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President Talks Change - Official President's Report Released

IARC President’s Report September 2018

by John Mason President IARC, Board Member Australian Garden Council, Principal ACS Distance Education, Publisher and Author.

The 2017-2018 year has been a difficult year for many IARC members, with political and legislative changes, particularly in the UK and Australia impacting adversely on many of our members. In response to a changing education landscape, it has become a landmark year for IARC itself requiring us to make a series of changes to adjust to a world that is changing faster than ever, yet remain focussed on delivering outcomes in line with our vision, mission, values and principles. Economic, political and social change has created a very different world to what existed when we were founded in 1999. It is necessary for IARC to respond to those changes.

Despite challenges faced by many members in the sector, mostly in Australia, IARC remains resilient.

Here’s some key information to note:

  • Our trading name has changed to International Approval and Registration Centre
  • We have phased out course accreditation for NEW applicants only.We are currently exploring proposals to replace the previous system, with a Standards for Continuing Professional Development (CDP) Courses or providing members with an IARC Quality Award.
  • After 9 years of service as Secretary, Jade Sciascia has moved from the position of Secretary based in Australia, to become Business Manager operating from Stirling in Scotland. She is working to increase the presence and reputation of IARC in the UK.
  • The Secretary in Australia is Sarah Redman and continues to support IARC’s formal obligations.
  • Much of our efforts this year have been devoted to helping members with information related to General Data Protection Act 2018 (GDPR privacy law) changes in the UK and beyond. IARC too has been impacted by GDPR with the annihilation of our mailing list subscribers.
  • Additionally, the Tertiary Education and Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) Act 2011, amendment August 2017, presented litigation cases for some of our members. This change to education law in Australia has had an enormous impact on private education, our members and on our business. Responding to the amendment has cost IARC financially with staff resources deployed.It is noted that hours spent on IARC business increased threefold since December 2017 – a significant and unexpected cost.
  • We have redeveloped and launched a more modern web site over 2017/18. This continues to be our main platform and work continues. We have made further additions in respect of GDPR opt-ins and privacy requirements.
  • The traffic on our web site has stayed consistent (there was a dramatic fall in December when we launched the new site) but it has recovered to almost 1000 visits per month. Our bounce rate continues to fall. Our membership enquiry rate has returned to a steady level, after also seeing a very quiet spell during Quarter 1, 2018.
  • We have reactivated our Facebook page and LinkedIn group, acknowledging the ongoing worth of social media.

Membership Update

We have a total of 74 members – this includes all categories of membership. Full fee paying members, honorary members and subsidiary memberships.  This is an increase of 7%, from 69 in September 2017. 

  • There are 2 prospective member applications being worked on at present. 
  • There were a total of 12 new members (including 6 subsidiaries of current members).
  • IARC rejected an application, which was later successful at appeal.
  • IARC rejected 3 member applications during 2017-2018, none of which went to appeal.
  • IARC lost 5 members in total for the following 2 reasons: the schools ceased to operate or there were staff changes at the school and new management decided not to renew.
  • We terminated the memberships of 2 persistent non-payers.
  • We wrote off a total of $3688 in ‘bad debt’.
  • There are 7 members who are currently considered non-financial with invoices unpaid for the 2018-19 member’s fees.

Our most significant change this year has been a renaming of our organisation to better reflect our evolving purpose. The role of formal accreditation systems has become increasingly unsettled in many developed countries, while at the same time credibility of individual institutions has been increasing in importance.

Networking between different institutions has been growing. There has been global growth in “micro-qualifications” or shorter courses. Informal and non-formal learning is widely expected term coined by the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP)  but decreasing enrolments in degrees and diplomas in many countries across the board. Of course there are exceptions to this trend, however on all reports we have been seeing and through the strength of our own connections, formal education systems have been facing financial, quality and political stresses in the UK, Australia, the USA and other countries.

While this may initially sound pessimistic, the current volatility in the education industry also offers opportunities. Perhaps short term opportunities for short term operators to capitalise on the disruption, but much more importantly, long term opportunities for those who have the foresight, commitment and capability of rebuilding an education system into something that is far more effective than what we might have seen for many decades.  I don’t know with certainty what the future may look like, but I do know it will be markedly different to the present.

With warmest wishes,
John Mason