Friday, January 27, 2017

Rivet Rant: My Beauty School shut down and now I am "Schrödinger's Student"

I made it public knowledge that I attended The Australasian College Broadway [TACB] as a Beauty Therapy student. I even wrote articles for the college as one of their Student Bloggers^ – kick starting what I have here with Rivet Licker. I enjoyed my time there, until I felt that I had exhausted my avenues of learning salon and spa type treatments enough to warrant applying to their higher education Bachelor Degree in Clinical Aesthetics – where the real fun is. Reality bites.

Guess which one I am. Screenshot: @the_australasian_college student blogger promotion. [Account deactivated]

The college itself was great, from the trainers and the student support staff, to the facilities available and clients. I was very proud to wear the uniform. What we didn't know was that during our summer holiday break, the college announced it was going into voluntary administration, 80 or so staff were terminated and several hundred students were left in the dark. I personally found out through the #instabeautyau Facebook group from another student that attended the college. I was shown an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald and Fairfax publications by journalist Eryk Bagshaw at 5pm on 28th December 2016 stating that staff received letters on the 23rd December; right before Christmas, not a single worse time to be notified that your job is gone. Eryk has been following the story since.

My initial thoughts upon hearing about the staff was "okay, I better send some messages to find out if they are doing alright, after all, it's the holidays, never mind us, they just lost their main source of income". I heard back from my trainer – she was upset about the issue, but her words marked that she cared more about us than losing her job. Other students in my group were also panicking. Realistically, we couldn't do anything until after the new year, when the official letters were distributed by the insolvency agency.

I was stuck in some sort of cruel limbo; my plan was to withdraw from TACB to apply for the Bachelor Degree at the sister college and higher education provider – The Australasian College of Health & Wellness [TACHW]. The future of this college is in a haze. At first it was to be sold off to refinance creditors because it's a completely separate business entity, but somehow, there was speculation* that it still may operate in 2017, offering a Diploma in Beauty Therapy. This may have been the case if it were to be sold off and placed under new management. I spoke to the higher education intake liaison merely days prior to the closure, I would assume she didn't even know she was too out of a job until the 23rd December.
*Note, speculation, there's no evidence to support this.

As of the 25th January 2017, Eryk Bagshaw published a new article stating that the higher education college is looking dim with the Department of Education looking to cancel their provider status. Another poorly factor was the college having "16 expressions of interest". Make that 15, one of them was mine; my application is sitting at my desk, staring me in the face and casting an evil eye. I don't feel that I could get anything out of a school with a now tainted reputation and questionable future.

Added: 28 January 2017
Little did I know upon enrollment that this school had been affected by scandals of "Phantom Students" being enrolled so the college could claim VET funding for students that never actually existed. This made the news a few years ago. They did this by offering the students one course with a certain outcome, or secretly enrolling them into others, for which they received no classes, but were promised a qualification. Some students upon graduation, were not work ready competent; other students were ignored when trying to withdraw from the college. Whether this was the work of a disgruntled former employee to sabotage the college, or a well thought out scam to make sure the cash flow kept coming is a mystery.

I can say with confidence that I felt a little confused into the training packaging they had "sold" me was not the package I thought I was doing - I thought by choosing the clinical pathway (out of clinical and wellness), I would learn Laser and IPL as part of the Diploma, however, it was worded in such a way that it was merely a "pathway" into the Graduate Certificate course of Laser and IPL (or a pathyway into the Bachelor Degree, which is what I wanted to do after completing the Diploma of Beauty Therapy). My original training package was also changed back in October to conform with the new nationally recognized SHB training package, which replaced some units and had me doing a wellness component too - I never was intending to do in the first place. I completed half of the units and I'm just about done.
Source 1
Source 2

Having added that last paragraph with public sources, I do not believe the staff that took me in were the same staff that may have previously been aware of any dubious activity. Mind you, I mildly fall on the Autistic Spectrum, so my interpretation of any events may have been slightly askew. I genuinely believed in the college; the staff, the training provided, the facilities, the reputation. I feel a fool to be taken advantage of and using my position as a rising Australian beauty blogger to promote this college. I have many regrets and wish to apologise to anybody who may have taken up studying at TACB because of me, and to my classmates; now friends, I genuinely care about each and every one of you.

Original story cont.
The most stressful and irritating component is the chain of bureaucracy that has to follow after this – one agency [ACPET] having to take care of over 500 students through their insurance scheme (in the event of this kind of incident). Most students want to continue their studies and are looking for placement at another college. Fortunately, a few colleges have offered to help with the intake of some students, however, due to the reform in VET (Vocational Education & Training) financial assistance, and the utter failure of funding in the public education sector (TAFE), many of these students are going to now have to possibly fork out thousands of dollars that they don't have. Thanks for the cuts to education and breeding a generation of further skills shortages, Australia.

I personally sent in my evidence and requested withdrawal with a partial refund for subjects I didn't complete. VET Fee-Help was a deplorable joke, and I have every single regret in signing my soul away to a disgruntled taxpayer. A video posted in tandem with another of Eryk's articles about some student experiences, particularly how it exploits teenagers and school leavers, explains the current situation of how and why the VET Fee-Help disaster came to be.

There just has been so much stress and agony and the cascade of events are sending me further into limbo. I am Schrödinger's Student, and to the other 500 students in the same boat, I wish you all the best.

Me in my element. Image credit: TACB social media team.

Accurate at the time of publishing: I am currently liaising with the University of Technology Sydney to gain entry as a mature aged student, but have missed the deadline for applications for their Autumn intake. The hard part is getting into the degree I want; it's a Science degree that may ultimately lead to pharmacology – closer to getting me into cosmetic chemistry, the very basis of what I write about. This is ongoing process, so only time can tell.

^The student blog on which my articles are published has unfortunately been removed at the date 14 February 2017.

A student run Facebook group is available for moral support and updates.

The College Review Sydney Facebook page will also be posting information as it comes.

Edited: 28 January 2017 with added information about the college's history and training package changes.

No comments:

Post a Comment