According to a recent survey by Melbourne-based course comparison start-up, training.com.au, 43% of respondents are seeking alternative employment in the next 3 years and a further 41% identified a lack of qualifications was their greatest professional limitation.
Online education is said to be the current preference of professionals looking to upskill and upgrade their qualifications. However, survey data contradicted the notion that Australia was heading for an online education revolution, with only 28% saying that they were interested in a wholly online learning format. 37% prefer a hybrid mode of study with both classroom and online learning required for successful completion of a course.
“We’ve discovered that students still value the benefits of interacting with their instructors and peers in a physical setting,” said marketing director of training.com.au, Mike Thomas. “We also see a strong uptake in students who want a hybrid learning approach that grants them the flexibility to suit their lifestyles,” he said.
The Times Higher Education reported that 20% of university students studying off-campus drop out in their first year, compared with about 7% for those on campus.
Research suggests that students studying externally are more likely to drop out because they feel isolated from their peers¹. To combat feelings of isolation, universities are using technology to increase the level of participation by external students, with video sessions, forums, email support from tutors etc.
While no-one can tell us the dropout rate for online courses provided by private colleges, it is believed to be much higher than it is for universities. According to the Australian consumer organisation, Choice, there is an unacceptably high number of students who are being ripped off by online course providers. “When literally anyone can set up an online learning or training program, how do you know if you’ll end up with a real accreditation or relinquish your money to an unqualified opportunist running their business from the kitchen table?” It is for this reason, people looking to upskill or train for a new career are advised to do their research before enrolling in a specific course.
Even if your course is covered by HECS or a VET Student Loan, course fees can run into thousands of dollars per academic year, so buyer beware and make sure the course you’re enrolled is really the right one for you.
A good place to start is an education comparison platform like training.com.au, which has partnered with Australia’s leading education providers including TAFE and Universities. This website offers an easy access point to 800 online and on-campus courses.