More learn ex­ter­nally

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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.

AMY NOO­NAN

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.

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