More learn externally
STUDENTS are thinking outside the square and studying externally.
Experts say it gives students the opportunity to upgrade qualifications while remaining in employment.
Flinders University head of admissions Peter Torjul says studying externally offers many benefits.
‘‘It also offers a significant opportunity for students living some distance from the university, permitting professional development for people living in rural and remote areas, for example,’’ he says.
STUDY is not just about the walls of the classroom. External study allows students from all over Australia to learn anywhere and everywhere, as Adelaide resident Carina Bonney found out.
Ms Bonney completed a Diploma in Disability with TAFE SA last year.
She was one of the more than 10,000 students who undertake their vocational education and training externally through TAFE SA every year.
External study is also available at the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and the University of South Australia, and Tabor Christian College.
Flinders University head of admissions Peter Torjul says external study is particularly valuable in allowing people to work while getting a university qualification.
‘‘In areas such as nursing, health, education and the community sector, this flexibility allows professionals to upgrade their qualifications while remaining in employment,’’ Mr Torjul says.
‘‘It also offers a significant opportunity for students living some distance from the university, permitting professional development for people living in rural and remote areas, for example.’’
Ms Bonney says her study helped her pull together more than 20 years of industry knowledge and experience.
‘‘I enjoyed the freedom that external study provided but it can be difficult at times, especially when combined with a demanding job,’’ Ms Bonney says.
Motivation and organisation are the key, as well as having understanding tutors and support staff, she says.
In fact, proving distance is no barrier to study, Ms Bonney’s tutor, Kate O’Sullivan, was based in Port Pirie.
Ms O’Sullivan, TAFE SA Port Pirie disability program external co-ordinator, says it is important that students realise they are not alone.
‘‘ External students are reassured to know there is someone who cares and is motivated to help them – even over the phone or email,’’ Ms O’Sullivan says.
That support did not go unnoticed by Ms Bonney.
‘‘I found that my tutor offered individualised assessment and direction, which was very helpful,’’ she says.
Courses offered outside the classroom use a range of learning tools that ‘‘fully supports the student while they learn’’.
This can include course guides, work books, video or audio tapes, CDs, online chat groups and discussion forums.
Studying a diploma of disability gives Ms Bonney a competitive edge in an industry that employs nearly 6500 people in SA. She says her study already has given her the confidence to apply for other positions.