Did you know there are around 5000 Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and more than 40 universities in Australia? That’s a lot of courses and providers to choose from.
With so much on offer, it helps to know what to look for when choosing a course that matches your education or career goals.
This practical list will help guide you through the education industry buzzwords and piles of course brochures to make the right choice - whether you're searching for in-person or online training courses.
Here are our top tips…
- Identify Your Goals: Understand why you're taking the course to choose the right level and provider.
- Course Levels: Know the different levels, from Certificate I to Doctoral Degrees, and choose based on your goals.
- Course Details: Ask about course delivery, payment options, accreditation, skills developed, and additional resources needed.
- Payment Options: Understand the various payment methods, including VET Student Loans and payment plans.
- Accreditation: Check if the course is accredited and by which body, as this affects the recognition and quality of the course.
1. Be clear about why you are doing the course
It sounds obvious, but before diving into searching for a course take the time to consider what’s driving your decision to hit the books – what goal will it help you reach?
There are many reasons to study and each is as valid as the next. It could be a completely new study area to support a career change, to skill up to help your career progression, perhaps it’s for a licence requirement within your current industry or even for general professional development.
Understanding your goals and the outcome you want to achieve through study is key to selecting the right level of course with a suitable training provider.
2. Understand the different levels of courses
Under the Australian Qualifications Framework there are 10 qualification levels from Certificate I (Level 1) through to a Doctoral Degree (Level 10).
Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses include Certificate I, II, III, IV, Diploma and Advanced Diplomas and are offered by Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), like MiTraining.
Bachelor degree and postgraduate degree courses are typically delivered by a university but may also be offered by private providers. Postgraduate courses may range from a Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Masters or Doctorate.
So, what’s the right level of course for you? This is where tip number one comes into play – it all depends on the outcome you’re looking for.
VET courses are skills and knowledge (competency) based.
That means they are highly practical and often include assessment tasks that relate directly to your current or desired job role. VET courses are assessed on a competency basis. That means there is no “grade”, as such. As a student you are deemed either competent or not yet competent.
Higher Education courses are generally much broader in their application of skills and knowledge.
Postgraduate level courses are usually the next step from an undergraduate qualification. These courses require a higher level of understanding, independence and specialised knowledge.
3. Find out the essential facts about the course
Once you’re clear on the study area and course level, it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty. Here are our top five questions to ask about a course to ensure you get the facts upfront:
- When, where and how is the course delivered?
- What are the payment options and withdrawal/cancellation terms?
- Is the course accredited, and by which accrediting body?
- What job-specific skills will I develop in the course?
- What other resources or materials will I need that are not included with enrolment?
For a comprehensive checklist of questions for education providers check out the Australian Skills Quality Authority website.
4. Know the details about course payment
Again, this seems obvious but the range of course payment options out there can be confusing. You wouldn’t buy a house or car without understanding how you will afford all the fees and charges, and a course is no different.
VET Student Loans
Some VET providers offer VET Student Loans for qualifications at Diploma level and above. This government scheme is essentially a student loan and enables you to enrol without paying the course fees upfront.
It’s important to know that this loan is a personal debt and does not cover the cost of textbooks and other study materials. A 20% loan fee is charged on top of the loan and repayments commence as soon as you earn above the income threshold of $46,620 annually (for the 2020-21 financial year). Download the VET Student Loans Information Booklet for the latest details.
Some providers offer payment plans that require a deposit followed by regular instalments to help make the courses more accessible.
MiTraining’s payment plans for nationally accredited qualifications are interest-free with deposits starting from $200 for a qualification.
The government also provides a range of other payments to students. Contact the Department of Human Services to check your eligibility for assistance.
5. Accredited or non-accredited?
It’s best to check if the education provider is registered with the relevant regulatory body. For RTOs (VET providers) you can check the National Register on training.gov.au and search by provider name or by course. For Higher Education providers you can search the TEQSA National Register.
If the provider is listed on these registers it means they must meet significant compliance standards and requirements to have become accredited, and to remain so.
Different providers may offer both accredited and non-accredited courses. This can mean different things in different contexts…so hang in there!
Firstly, a non-accredited doesn't mean a course not of quality or worthwhile. Non-accredited courses are excellent for upgrading specific skills and professional development.
In this context, non-accredited simply means the course is not part of a nationally recognised or registered qualification. Or, that it is not endorsed (accredited) by an industry body.
Likewise, simply because a course is accredited does not guarantee the course is of a high standard (that will depend on the quality of provider – see above). Accredited simply means the course is recognised by an official regulatory body and upon successful completion you will be awarded a formal testamur or certificate.
Need help choosing the right course for you?
Get practical advice and guidance about your options from the MiTraining team – call 1300 549 190 or email email@example.com.