Over the last few years we have all become accustomed to tightening our belts and watching what we spend. The current state of the economy has filtered down to the average household and there are now very few of us who can afford to waste money.
While an investment in education is always an investment in your future, it’s never been more important to ensure your money is put towards a recognised qualification, that will genuinely improve your prospects in the workplace or develop your skills in your own private practice.
Unfortunately, over the last few years numerous distance learning colleges have been set up to do nothing more than scam their students. These colleges are in fact fake companies that have no interest in the well-being of their students.
Whilst these organisations may appear to be legitimate home learning colleges, they do nothing more than tarnish the reputation of legitimate distance education colleges like Stonebridge Associated Colleges, and put students off from the real benefits of home learning.
This article will hopefully show you how to spot a scam college and provide you with a checklist of things you should be asking yourself, before you register with a home learning college.
Excellent communication and support from Stonebridge. An amazing amount of courses to choose from and affordable prices. Never had a problem in all the years I have been studying with them. I would recommend them to anyone.
What are the benefits of distance learning?
- You don’t need any prior qualifications.
- You’ll have the flexibility to study from home and you won’t need to travel to a college.
- You set the pace.
- There’s no peer pressure and you can study privately.
- Distance learning costs are much lower than college costs.
What are the risks?
With the many benefits of studying from home, come risks that scam colleges use to exploit their students. We’ve selected some of the key areas for concern and questions that you need to ask any distance learning college, before you decide to study with them:
One of the most important things for any student to ask their distance learning provider, is if they and their courses are independently accredited? Many scam colleges will say they are accredited and will mention a range of professional organisations that they claim to belong to. This is not enough.
The training provider should be independently accredited, by an awarding body that is fully recognised by Ofqual (the Government body in charge of regulating qualifications). Regulated awarding bodies include Edexcel, City and Guilds, NCFE, CACHE and Active IQ. On completion of your home study course, you should also receive a separate certificate from the awarding body, as evidence that you have completed the course.
UK Provider Reference Number
All learning providers in the UK should be able to offer you a UK Provider Reference Number. The UK Register of Learning Providers is a one-stop portal used by Government departments, agencies, learners, and employers to share key information about learning providers
The small print
All distance learning providers should offer a money back guarantee.
Many scam colleges are actually run by one or two people, who simply work there in the evenings, away from their primary source of employment. The easiest way to spot this kind of college is to try and give the contact number a ring throughout the normal working day.
If you are told that the lines busy, or that you should leave a message, you should be very wary. Professional home learning colleges should at least work Monday to Friday 9am-5pm and should always be available on the phone to deal with any queries that you may have.
Every college should offer you unlimited tutorial support throughout the duration of your course. Many colleges will limit the amount of support you can access, or worse still limit it to 12-18 months. You never know what could happen in the space of 12 months, and if you have to postpone your studies for any reason, you don’t want to find that your course is no longer supported, or that you are required to pay more to continue with your distance learning.
Active social media
It’s critical that your distance learner provider has a current and active social media presence. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter are excellent resources for potential students to use to speak to other students about their experiences with the learning provider and to see the number of students that the learning provider is engaging with.
It is always worth having a look at independent review sites before you sign up with any college. This will give you an independent and impartial view of the experiences other students have had with the college. However, if there are only a few reviews and they are all glowing, then there may be some fabrication at work.
What makes Stonebridge Associated Colleges different?
I greatly appreciate all support given during my studies and I will definitely, strongly recommend Stonebridge Associated Colleges, especially to those of us who want flexible time to learn and achieve, adjusted to our everyday work, activities and family life. This is a great way to continuously improve our knowledge in many areas.
Stonebridge Associated Colleges is fully accredited by various awarding bodies, including CACHE, Active IQ and NCFE. On completion of one of our courses, you will receive a certificate from the awarding body, confirming that the course is independently accredited at the level of learning that you have chosen to study. This is proof to you the student, that we are subjected to independent quality reviews and are not simply regulating ourselves, then printing off our own certificates.
We have a UK Provider Reference Number
We offer a money back guarantee
Stonebridge Associated Colleges offers a full 7 day money back guarantee, in case you are not entirely satisfied with your course. So if for any reason you are not happy with your course, simply return it to the college and we will process your refund for you.
We deliver full support
Stonebridge Associated Colleges has 10+ course advisers available to take your call during normal office hours. Our students also have access to a dedicated and friendly team of administrators, who offer sound and professional advice.
This ensures that our students never feel neglected. Outside of office hours, our team responds to any email queries they receive, to provide a response in the shortest possible time.
Stonebridge Associated Colleges is one of the only distance learning colleges that offers unlimited tutorial support, throughout the duration of your studies. We impose no time limits, or pressures, on you to complete your course material. Your course will not expire, and it will not become invalid until you have successfully completed it.
We enjoy communicating with all of our students using our social media platforms. We would encourage any potential student to visit our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter, so that you can find out more about the students who make up our learning community.
We ask for feedback
We welcome students sharing their experiences on review sites, during and after their course. We take all feedback seriously and go out of our way to resolve any issues. If you would like to read some independent and impartial reviews on Stonebridge Colleges, please see:
Join us today
We want all of our students to make an informed decision to sign up with us. If you ever require any assistance, one of our friendly course advisers will always be available to help. All you need to do is contact us at the college.
Thank you Stonebridge College. I’ve just passed with a distinction! Very easy to use website when selecting a course, materials arrived really quickly and got a quick response every time I contacted you for advice. Will be using you again! Many thanks.
One final tip: if in doubt, why not contact the British Institute for Learning and Development (BILD) to ensure that your learner provider is registered with them. All distance learner providers should have membership with the BILD.