Tarred with the Same Brush

 

Private colleges providing good education are tainted by the increasing number of rogue institutions.

The media stories of unethical college practices abound. This is gratifying in many respects; firstly students are forewarned and secondly the authorities can act to sanction them.

On the other hand, the quantity of negative press tends to discredit all private colleges, including those with sound work practices and which have their students’ best interests at heart. The Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) is a Registered Training Organization, regulated by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), and more recently has acquired the status of Higher Education Provider, under the auspices of the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA).

EIT offers engineering qualifications in both sectors, ranging from diplomas through to master degrees.

Initially the regulators were wary because EIT employs an online platform of learning. It is, however, synchronous, which means that classes are live and interactive, using the latest web conferencing software. Traditionalists would inevitably scoff, but students involved in this form of online education ‘attend’ classes and interact with their lecturers and fellow students. Chris Di Lange was our 2014 EIT Graduate of the Year. Being a new immigrant to Australia he realized he would need to continue working when enrolled in a course of study. He explained why EIT’s Advanced Diploma of Mechanical Engineering was appealing, “classes to attend, a real, living, interested lecturer to ask questions and other students to interact with”.

The students’ applied learning is also ably acquired, through simulation software and access to remote laboratories. EIT’s specific approach to learning, which includes dedicated e-learning coordinators who support students throughout their studies, means that the attrition rate remains low. Another factor that would appeal to private college cynics; EIT does not profit from government money. The students and/or their companies pay for their education themselves. Despite students having to carry the immediate burden of cost, EIT allows monthly instalments, education tax deductions may be claimed and students are able to continue working, even remotely, while they study. On completion of EIT’s Advanced Diploma of Applied Electrical Engineering, Stevie Shoko from Western Australia said, “Studying from the comfort of your home helps because you can work and study at the same time so there are no financial losses”.

And finally, Steve Szekely (pictured below) is a good example of the reality of work and the challenges of gaining professional development. He embarked on EIT’s Advanced Diploma of Industrial Automation. Part way through the course, however, he was transferred to the Australian Antarctic Division station on remote Macquarie Island in the Southern Ocean. Despite the obvious distractions and his work commitments, Steve was able to continue participating in the live webinars, complete his assessments and ultimately graduate.