Frequently Asked Questions

Questions Asked Frequently about Courses from ACS Distance Education

 
Q. When can I start my course?
A. You can start our courses at any time to suit you.



Q. If I do a shorter course first can I get credits towards a certificate or diploma later?
A. Yes.  If you study one short course, then decide you would like to study in more depth, this is entirely possible.  We aim to be flexible.  For example, if you want to achieve a Certificate, you would need to complete six 100 hour modules.  So if you completed a 100 hour course, then wanted to do the certificate, you would need to take five more.  You can find more on how the different qualifications are made up at http://www.acsedu.co.uk/Info/Enrolment/Design-Your-Own-Course.aspx



Q. Do we get a discount if two of us enrol together?
A. You may claim a 5% discount on fees if you both enrol in courses at the same time.  Only one discount is available per enrolment.  We do also offer special offers regularly, so also check those at http://www.acsedu.co.uk/courses/special-offers-courses.aspx



Q. Can I pay in instalments?
A. Yes, you can pay in instalments.  All courses can be paid in two instalments.  Some of the larger courses can be paid for in more instalments.  You can see details on this at http://www.acsedu.co.uk/Info/Enrolment/Course-Fees.aspx
However, please be aware that paying in instalments is more expensive – paying the course fees up front is the cheapest option.



Q. Do we get a discount if we enrol in a second course.
A. Yes.  You may claim a 5% fee discount when you enrol in a second course.
(This does not apply however to the second stage or part of the same certificate or diploma.)



Q. What happens if I have to stop studying for a while?
(e.g. Get sick, go on holidays, have a baby).
A. Apply for an extension.  It's okay to take a break and start up your study at a later point in time.  Just let us know.



Q. Do I need any extra books?
A. You are supplied with all "essential" references.  Extra books are always useful though, especially for special projects.  Tutors will advise you what to buy if you decide you would like to get any extra books.



Q. How do I contact my tutor?
A. Write, fax, email or phone the school.  If your tutor is not available, leave a message and they will phone, email, write or fax back - whatever suits you.



Q. How long does a shorter course (i.e. 80-120 hours) take to complete?
A. Commonly no more than one year.  Some students finish in less than 6 months.  It really depends upon how much time you have available to study.



Q. How long does a certificate take to complete?
A. A certificate requires approximately 600 hours of study.  Generally, this will take around 6-9 months, if studying full time, or around two years if studying part time.  With dedication, part time students can complete a certificate in one year.  As mentioned above, it really depends upon how time you have available to study.
 


Q. Why Choose to study with ACS?
A. There are many reasons:

  • Service – We put the student first: tutors and administration can be contacted 5 days a week, 50 weeks of the year, by phone or email.
  • We Provide Better Learning – We’ve been delivering distance education for over three decades, and we understand how people learn by home study.  Our methods are unique, developed through trial and error - always with our focus squarely on helping you learn.
  • Up To Date – We are continually revising and updating courses.  We listen to our students’ feedback and we always improve the course if a change is identified that will help significantly improve your learning.
  • More Choice – Today, people need a set of skills that will set them apart and give them an advantage over competition in the world after study.  We have a wide variety of study choices, and give you lots of options to choose different paths throughout a course.  Doing this has meant that completing an ACS course makes you different.  No two students at ACS are alike.  This is what makes students who complete our courses so successful.
  • No Short Cuts – You can’t take short cuts in learning, and that is why our courses are often longer than what you find elsewhere.  Anyone can study a short course, quickly sit an exam (while the information is fresh) and pass, but if you want to really understand something and retain it, that takes time.  Our courses require time, effort and enthusiasm from you to achieve what you want from the course.
  • More Than Just Learning Facts – We understand that success in the workplace or business requires you to not only learn things, but also build networks, understand the commercial world, be able to solve problems, communicate with people, and have an attitude that will function in your chosen industry.



Q. Do you offer Degrees?
A. 
 We do not offer degrees, but you can use our courses as credits in a degree.  Through our affiliates, we can offer pathways to degrees.

  • Our affiliate, Warnborough Ireland, offers degrees that incorporates many ACS modules.
  • Our affiliate, Warwickshire College, offers a full range of university qualifications.
  • We deliver a Pre-Medical Diploma which is recognised through our affiliate Warnborough, and designed to meet the requirements for pre-medical studies at various universities.


Q. How important is a Degree?
A.
 Not as important as most people think.  Country Life Magazine in the UK (Aug 25, 2010, page 31) commented: "We have too many under educated students at too many second-rate universities."  "For years now, we have subscribed to the myth that at least half the population needs a university education. Yet, in the real world, employers long ago discounted degrees from many institutions."

- We believe learning is critical for a successful career: - what you know is 100 times more important than the qualifications you hold.


University degrees are not as important as most people think.  Consider:
*UK Unemployment rate Jan 2011 was 7.9%.
*The Daily Mail newspaper on 27/1/11 reported 20% of university graduates unemployed.

A qualification might get a little interest from an employer on a job application, but when it comes to selecting an employee, a prospective employer will make their choice based upon presentation in an interview, communication skills, problem solving skills, networks the person has developed, knowledge of their industry, etc.  In other words, what they learned and how they have been able to apply their learning is far more important than a qualification alone: - Studying and Learning are the most important factors.


Q. How does recognition of the school compare with other colleges?
A.
 Exceptionally well, but different.  We do have a range of different accreditations, but avoid government accreditations (as they greatly increase costs and limit the emphasis we can place on learning).  We are internationally recognised by the International Accreditation and Recognition Council (IARC).  In addition, in many respects we are more widely recognised, due to the fact that we have been established and have trained students for so long throughout the world - most other colleges tend to operate only in one state or region, and may be poorly recognised outside that area.  Close involvement with industry has seen many employers sponsor staff through our courses, and many graduates develop strong careers as leaders in their respective industries.  We have also developed links with colleges in a number of countries through an international affiliates’ network.  Many of these articulate studies, giving cross recognition to each other’s students.  See the affiliates involved by clicking here.

Consider the following extract from the Higher Education Editor of the Australian Newspaper (Wed Oct 27, 2010) - "A Skills Australia paper released last week calls for a rethink on how the sector is funded, managed and delivers training.  It says completion rates are poor, training is often poorly focussed, and skills too often wasted in unrelated jobs"
  
These are comments about mainstream, government endorsed education!  If you watch the Times Education Supplement in the UK, and the Australian Higher Education supplement, you will often see comments that show mainstream education is not as good as what many people assume.

Like most things in life, you get what you pay for, and government funded education that is under government interference and funding cut backs will inevitably have problems.  We give you what you pay for.  Compare us to that.


Q. What do people think of this school?
A.
We receive many unsolicited comments from our students – follow the link to view a selection of Student Testimonials.


Q. How do I do workshops?
A.
Some courses require you to undertake workshops.  There are various options available for how you can do this.  Follow the link to the Workplace Projects page for further details.



Q. Why people prefer to employ our graduates?
A.
We aim to develop a stronger theoretical foundation than many other vocational colleges, but at the same time encourage more interaction with the real world than is often found at universities.  This approach puts graduates in a stronger position, enabling them to adapt more quickly to a rapidly changing world than either traditional university or vocational education.

Our courses are different to the standard courses run by the vast majority of universities and colleges.  This gives our graduates a different mix of knowledge and skills and this makes them more competitive than other graduates.

Unlike most colleges and universities, we do not depend on public funding so the quality of our service does not deteriorate when government funding comes under pressure.

We maintain uncompromising standards of service and student support which are increasingly being degraded in many other colleges.
 


Q. Who writes courses at ACS Distance Education & how are our courses developed?
A.
Many people make the false assumption that we operate like most universities or colleges, assigning just one person to write courses in a particular discipline.  This is not the way we operate though - all of our courses are written by a team!

People who are involved need to be on the same wavelength - and that sometimes poses a problem.  I've found that it takes a fair bit of time to get someone to the point of being able to work with us as part of a course development team.  They usually start out as a tutor, then move onto course counselling after perhaps 6 months, they then have an understanding of how we approach things.

When we start developing a course, there are always at least three people involved (a coordinator, an external academic specialist in that discipline from Australia, and another academic from the UK).  Sometimes there are more.   We focus first on getting lesson structure and lesson aims set down and approved by those three or more people.  After that, we move on to set tasks and assignments, again with more than one person being involved.  After that we extract relevant material from our database (over twenty million words - books, articles, courses etc.) which we own.  We then assign different lessons to different academics to work on, instructing them to leave gaps where they encounter things that would be better handled by another staff member.  The whole course grows organically like this until we have a first draft.  This is then worked over by an academic in Australia, and another in the UK.  After that we launch the course, but we continue to seek feedback from students, staff and affiliates, and assign the course for reviews and sometimes expansion of notes, as we go along.  For example, after a few years, there may have been twelve different horticulture experts who have contributed to a particular horticulture course.

This development process is unique, and I believe, a real strength with our school.

You can see the current academic staff by clicking here.  But remember, over the years, others who no longer work for us have contributed to the development of our courses - over 300 different academics have worked on our courses to date.


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