FAQ10/03/2015 10:26:37 AM

Your Questions Answered

Q. When can I start my course?

A. Any time -we have people enrol and start virtually every day of the year.

Q. How long does the course take -What does "a self paced 100 hour course" mean?

A. We leave it up to the student to decide how many hours they study, when and where they study. You can do more hours one week than the next if you want. You can take a break in studies, slow down, speed up, or vary the amount of work you are doing if you need to. Some students will take 2 years to do a 100 hour course, others taking only a couple of months. Some complete a 600 hour certificate in 6 months, while others take many years. These courses are as flexible as you will get anywhere!

Q. If I do a shorter course first can I get credits towards a certificate or diploma later?

A. Yes. We will assess previous studies to give you appropriate credits. Doing it this way will probably take a little longer and cost more in fees though.

Q. Can I pay in instalments?

A. Yes, however full payment up front is the cheapest option. All courses can be paid in two instalments, some can be paid in three or more. (Please refer to fee schedule on enrolment form for more information.)

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.

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 OK 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. Use our social media or student room; or access academic staff through chat facilities on www.acs.edu.au or www.acsedu.co.uk.  Leave a message if your tutor isn't available and they will phone, write or fax back; whatever suits you.

Q. How long does a shorter course (i.e 80-120 hrs) take to complete?

A. Commonly no more than one year. Some students finish in less than 6 months.

Q. How long does a certificate take to complete?

A. Commonly 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.

Q. What do I get as a student?

A. You need to understand that a course is "an experience that makes you into a different (more capable) person". If a course does it's job properly; you will graduate with a different mind set, and a different perspective on the subject you studied. To bring about these changes involves presenting you with information of course; but it's a great deal more than that. Some people enter study, thinking it's all about collecting information; but that's not study (that's building a library).
As a student, we provide you with things to read, selected information about the subject -but not too much information for the duration of the course. If we gave you too much, the important things could not be emphasised as easily and you could not experience the reinforcement and reflection which is critical to a learning experience.

We also guide you through experiences, whether observation and reflection; research; or practical tasks. These experiences are designed with input from highly experienced psychologists and educators; to achieve the learning which we aim to develop.

We believe an important part of this whole learning process is to provide support; whether through automated services and extra resources (eg. in the student room) or through generous access to
academic specialists who can guide and mentor the student as needed. Your fees are paying not only for a set of notes; but for a whole process of learning to be designed, maintained and supported by having resources standing ready to support you whenever we detect you straying off course; or whenever you approach us seeking assistance.

Q. Do you offer Degrees?

A. Courses are written to and delivered at a standard that is equal to or higher than degrees offered by some institutions; however, being largely applied or vocationally oriented studies, these cannot be called degrees. Our diploma graduates however have been highly competitive with degree graduates in the workplace. We often hear of graduates who have been given exemptions from subjects in degrees by universities (in many countries); but ultimately, the credit that is granted by any institution is on a case by case basis at the time it is granted; and nothing can be certain with us or any other institution, until that time comes.

ACS is however affiliated with some degree granting institutions including Warwickshire College; a large multi campus government institution in the UK.

Q. How important is a Degree?

Not as important as most people think. Country Life Magazine in the UK (Aug 25, 2010, pg 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,,,,"

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 increase costs greatly 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 trained students for so long, through all states, and many overseas countries. (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.

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! Compare us to that?

Q. What if I want your course by want government recognition.

A. ACS is affiliated with several other institutions in both Australia and the UK, who are government recognised, and can offer our courses (WE have developed the courses but license them to these institutions). Each of these institutions will offer a different mix of support services to what ACS does. Some offer different qualifications. The modules can however be done with these if that is your specific need. Ask if you need to know this.

Q. What do people think of the school?

See our student feedback on this site. Click here

Q. How do your diplomas compare with other Australian colleges, such as RTO's, TAFE's or our Affiliates?

A. Our certificates or diplomas tend to be longer courses than many other colleges; teaching you more than what a certificate or diploma might offer elsewhere.
Some of our affiliate colleges offer the same courses (which they license from us); but the fees and services they offer can be different to what we offer. Generally you will be getting what you pay for with most of our affiliates. Course content and notes can be the same with two colleges, but one may have lower fees, because it has lower costs and offers less service to the student. For some students, price can be more important; for others certain services can be more important.

 In the past, accredited diplomas involved well over 2000 hours of study, however, under the governments new Australian Qualifications Framework, many TAFE diplomas can be completed in much less time. We believe that the time you spend studying is important to the quality and long term recognition of a qualification. As such, we are maintaining old standards and distinguishing our graduates from those undertaking diplomas in this new system. Short qualifications from other Colleges may in the long term prove meaningless.

Q. How do I do workshops if I reside outside Australia?

A. We've now developed workshop modules that can be done in any place in the world. The "workshop"modules have highly specified, very practical, projects (Problem Based Learning Projects), which have been designed to achieve exactly the same outcomes as were approved by industry committees established and operated in the past by the school. The concept is one that has been tried and proven in leading universities in the USA, Canada and elsewhere. Alternatively we can appoint an appropriately qualified person anywhere to work through curriculum documentation supplied by us, to satisfy the requirements set down in a course.

Q. How is Practical Work Done?

A lot of people find it hard to understand how a distance education course can be anything more than reading and answering questions. Some are, and if that’s your experience with distance education in the past, this is unfortunate. In reality, distance education has a great deal of flexibility and today can be more practical and relevant to real life than classroom education.

There are a few things to consider:

New technologies (internet, video, digital photography, cheaper & mobile telecommunications etc) make it possible to overcome many of the isolation and communication problems that used to exist with distance education.
Funding pressures that have often resulted in a decrease in quantity and quality of practical components in traditional classroom education

People today are better networked than ever, and more exposed to visual images than ever (e.g. In the past if someone was studying an animal they had never before seen, the options to see an image of that animal would be virtually nil, unless supplied by their teacher in the classroom. Today people are bombarded by images of virtually everything they could imagine through cable TV, YouTube, web sites, magazines, etc.

Be aware that no course will ever teach you everything! Wherever you study, your course should lay a foundation and framework for you to build on. It should open up opportunities for further learning –to further develop your practical skills, problem solving skills, knowledge, networking, communication abilities etc, within your field of study. Some courses focus heavily on the information; some on assessment more than learning, others focus heavier on the problem solving, and others perhaps on the practical, etc.

No course can have it’s emphasis on everything; because to emphasise one thing is to de-emphasise something else.
Our courses are “experiential” learning (i.e. a concept in education that focuses on learning through experience). Over more than 2 decades, these courses have been developed using feedback and suggestions from both staff and students to create a variety of different ways of building all sorts of learning experiences into the courses. Some are integral and compulsory experiences within a course, others are optional facilities (such as student interaction through the student room directory), which some students use, while others do not use.

We get our students to do all sorts of hands on and observational tasks throughout courses. Examples may be:

  • To visit a farm and observe things (for students who have a problem with a real farm, they might take a “virtual tour” on a web site or using a video).
  • To study the anatomical structure of a bone or piece of meat obtained from a butchers shop.
  • To collect pieces off a plant, and from those pieces, create and propagate cuttings.
  • To undertake a well structured PBL project. (NB: PBL is a highly structured, tried & proven learning system based on dealing with hypothetical problems. This system is widely used world wide in medical schools, and increasingly in other disciplines.)
  • To undertake a role play.
  • To interview someone from industry.
  • To video or photograph things performed or created by the student.

…There are of course many other things that could also be added to this list.

Q. What level is a certificate?

A. We do not use levels on certificates.
Levels I, II, III etc are systems used for Competency Based Training in both Australia and the UK. (The levels also mean different things in different countries.)

We operate with a more sophisticated system: experiential learning.

E.g. Level III for instance means you are competent to perform certain tasks under limited supervision. Our certificate develops a foundation within the discipline that enables you to develop and grow your capacity to work and solve problems within the discipline. You learn through experience as you study; and the study sets you on a path that encourages ongoing learning through experience after graduation. Our graduates are better prepared to advance in their career, to work alone or with others, etc. This concept is more in keeping with some of the more cutting edge education systems around the world. This contrasts with the CBT system which was popular throughout the 1980's and perhaps 90's but is often criticised today by leading educators around the world. We take this approach because it works better; and on all reports, our graduates are in fact very successful.

Q. Do I need to learn CAD for Garden Design?

A. Computer Aided Design (CAD) should only ever be viewed as a tool.

We do not sell or endorse anything with CAD. Our Photoshop course can provide a good introduction to using computer graphics, and you can even use this program for CAD, however it can be a mistake to buy any garden design software before learning to design gardens first. I say this for several reasons....

1. Many skilled garden designers find using CAD to be limiting to the accuracy and creativity of their designs -even the best software is limiting.

2. There are many options for CAD, and new CAD systems emerging all the time. The most appropriate CAD software will depend upon the application. You need to know what type of business you are operating & what services you are providing, before you get the tools to do the job

3. If you buy a system before changing, then spend 2 years studying, it may be out of date before you graduate and are ready to start using it.

One of our affiliates (Garden Design Academy, in France) is a specialist when it comes to CAD. If someone is more strongly focused on CAD, they should consider studying our courses with these people, who also do a CAD course www.gardendesignacademy.com

If you have questions regards CAD....refer to Colin at Garden Design Academy www.gardendesignacademy.com