Just because you can’t make it into a classroom every day doesn’t need to restrict your choice of further education. Distance and online study have become more approachable options in recent times, thanks to advancements in education delivery. TAFE NSW research shows a marked difference in the rise in the demand for distance delivery, with the backing of not-for-profit Country Universities Centres this year expanding on that point in the way it supports tertiary learning in rural and regional areas.
Here we focus in on NSW to explore options that could help you attain an education without the added costs and pressure of leaving home.
Numbers never lie, and the figure that 300,000 – or one in four – university students are completing some of study online helps to tell the story of further education in Australia today.
Further, TAFE NSW recorded a 39% increase in the delivery of online, electronic, remote and on-the-job training in the decade to 2017.
“Flexibility in the delivery of vocational education and training that allows students and employees to learn when, where and how they want is vital in raising the profile of regional learning,” said a TAFE NSW spokesperson.
Given such demand for services TAFE NSW is rolling out “unprecedented” investment in regional education, with the opening of new digitally-enabled Connected Learning Centres (CLC) in regional areas such as Deniliquin, Grenfell and Bega and significant investment in TAFE Digital.
Further across the state, TAFE NSW delivers a wide range of training to regional and remote communities by using a range of methods. Students can stay in their hometown, work and study TAFE NSW courses online, interact with classes in other locations via web and video conferencing and gain practical experience from TAFE NSW teachers who deliver training by using Mobile Training Units (MTUs),” she said.
The practical option of distance education is a practical option that’s here to stay
Studying from home can be more comfortable, cheaper and provide better learning outcomes in some cases. With growing demand for services as well as accommodating technology advances, it’s becoming more accepted.
Nearly all universities offer distance options, with Open Universities being another institution that can coordinate a students’ study no matter their previous study experience.
The rise of Country Universities Centres
With distance education here to stay, regional communities are doing their bit to contribute to the health and wellbeing of their local people by investing in education.
The last 12 months have seen the opening of Country Universities Centres (CUC) in Cooma, Broken Hill, Goulburn, Moree, Grafton and Griffith thanks to $8 million of state government funding.
The hubs feature facilities akin to metropolitan universities, with video-conferencing lecture and tutorial rooms, computer stations and workshops delivered by local instructors. The centres are open to any student studying any higher education course at Australian universities.
Country Universities Centre CEO Duncan Taylor said each centre works to a “community-driven model” to ensure their services appeal to local needs.
“Each CUC centre is owned and run by its own community, with a local board of governance. All of these community-driven CUC Centres have affiliated together under the banner of the Country Universities Centre. This means that the board of each centre can adapt their own centre for local needs and partnerships, within the broader model of the CUC,” Mr Taylor said.
The centres are staffed and contain great technology and connectivity. An environment of higher education learning and community of students is cultured. Generic academic support is provided, and if university partnerships support it then in discipline tutorials may be provided. This combination of supports improves access, engagement and completions.”
“The CUC and CEF have great commonality in their missions to improve opportunities for regional and rural communities and people.”
The rise and rise of distance education and online learning doesn’t signal any end to the institution that is university campus academia. Being on campus, soaking in what you’re learning with like-minded students is a proud Australian tradition.
Universities campuses will always be the recognised as intensive research institutions.
This ‘More Than Your ATAR’ education series is to support and inform young students as they seek to make further education choices.
It will be covering off such subjects as: where to start, early entry, VET education, studying via distance & regional study hubs as well as tips and tricks for applying for a scholarship. We’ll be talking to all the experts – students, CEF committees, high school and university advisers to help you on this long, long windy road.