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September 2021 News Your Voice Matters.pdf 

Quarter 1 News & Events

Organisational Membership Renewals

Annual General Meeting 2021

Elections & Nominations for the 2021-2022 Executive Board

New Membership and Student Enquiries

Legislation Changes Affecting the Non-profit Sector

Warm welcome to our newest members

Forthcoming Quarter 2 Events

Say Something Kind



2021-2022 Renewal Email Newsletter.pdf

Jade Sciascia, IARC's International Business Manager, reflects on change readiness and continuous improvement as members approach renewals. The whole college community must focus on managing quality as defined by our standards, which are central to driving productivity and student success.


On reviewing recent articles relating to the UK Higher and vocational education sectors, I was not surprised to read many university graduates (over 50%) in a lot of cases are not securing graduate (related) employment, even up to 15 months post-study. 

This is symptomatic of some underlying problems in both the higher and vocational education. Over recent years, there has been a trend to a higher proportion of people studying at post-secondary level (perhaps there’s more competition for some high level jobs), and a decrease in duration of qualification. 

Course duration is affected by two factors as far as I can see – one quantity of learning, the other quality.

1. Quantity can perhaps be understood as “pieces of knowledge or learning” such as the number of plant names learned.

2. Quality can perhaps be understood as depth or strength of learning e.g. The number of times a plant name is revisited through encounters in different contexts, over time. The more times it is encountered, the more it is strengthened in long term learning (and in memory).

The only way I can see that a course can be shortened would be to reduce the strength of learning or reduce the quantity of learning.

With diplomas that are perhaps 25% less learning than I personally experienced in the 1970’s, when I undertook a diploma of more than 4000 hours duration, it would stand to reason that we have either a 75% weakening on the strength, or of the quantity, or perhaps a combination both factors. 

Perhaps if graduates are learning at a lower level, their capabilities are lower than what their employers experienced when they studied. The qualifications have similar names, but employers are not seeing similar capabilities in the graduates they interview today.

The problem seen today in horticultural education may have more to do with broader issues in education than just issues in horticultural education specifically.

If the broader issues of quality and quantity are not dealt with, any other schools and colleges make may just be tinkering at the edges of a far more pervasive problem.

I suspect if we were to single out one issue that needs most attention, it would be to build greater depth of learning, by bringing a focus back on reinforcement in the way we develop and deliver education.

I have been increasingly committed to reviewing our courses so that we better reinforce learning in experiential learning activities, self-assessment tests and tutor reviewed assignments, to ensure students revisit and strengthen learning. This is a strong point in the courses my writers develop and is a key point of difference between ACS courses, and those in other institutions. The students of ACS Distance Education and those of affiliated schools, partnering through the Accredited Global Partners network, will benefit. 

If students have deeper learning experiences, they have stronger, more persistent capabilities, and ultimately, that means greater job success. This is what I wish for graduates of all member schools and colleges. 

John Mason 
President IARC 


We wish all of our friends, associates and members the very warmest Christmas wishes.

May you all have a safe and happy time at Christmas and may 2021 see your greatest success. 



Date Added: 21/10/2020


Enjoy reading about the Organisation throughout the 2019-2020 membership year.

Our annual President's Report is available to download now here. 

IARC Presidents Report October 2020.pdf



By John Mason

Principal, ACS Distance Education


Is there a skills gap in classroom teachers who are now conducting online training?

Classroom teachers being thrown into online learning have a steep learning curve to deliver effective online content and effective learning. How can they transition to this modality and continue to ensure students are motivated and participating in quality learning? Are traditional educational facilities equipped to deliver online learning?

Where are the gaps?

Given the recent and immediate demand for teachers who traditionally teach classes in a classroom or lecture setting, to an online environment, many teachers have been thrown in the deep end. The transition has not been a gradual shift, but rather an immediate demand, given the shutdown of many educational facilities during lockdowns. The question is, do traditional classroom teachers have the skillset required to deliver online learning and how can they make the transition smoother? What kind of skills will they need to deliver online learning more effectively?

Teaching in a classroom requires not only a different skillset, but also a different mindset, to what is needed for online teaching. To take a good classroom teacher and expect them to be a good online teacher, is akin to taking a good carpenter and expecting them to be a good furniture maker. Both may be highly skilled tradespeople, but that does not mean they can do each other’s jobs without more learning and development.

With experience, classroom teachers encounter daily challenges in a particular type of environment, in which they may communicate with students as much through body language as through verbal and written communication. The expertise of a teacher is improved in a classroom with years of experience. Good classroom teachers develop their teaching skills and build up a great repertoire of techniques to use in all the different classroom situations they encounter with experience. They learn to observe and interpret the reactions of students. They can detect students who need help and respond accordingly and promptly. They notice that some students may be more alert than others, and at times some students might display signs of stress or illness. They can intervene providing advice when needed. In a classroom though, a single teacher is challenged by needing to communicate directly with many different individuals with different needs, who all respond in different ways, each time they talk. Communication is one person to many people. Students cannot avoid participation if motivation is low. Teachers can detect low motivation, react and adjust what they are doing.

Teachers are trained to have a classroom mindset

They may be good at detecting problems and solving them by reading a student’s body language, and communicating face to face, but that just doesn’t translate to online education anymore than speaking in the French language translates to speaking in the English language.

Teachers in an online situation, however, are more likely:

  • Communicating one to one, not one to many, as they do in a classroom
  • Have lost the non-verbal cues that can help them see whether a student is motivated and engaged or disengaged and not-interested.
  • Often working from a home environment rather than standing in a well equipped classroom in front of lots of students
  • Using technology they may not be fully skilled or equipped to use.
  • Working on different time-frames and perhaps not under the pressure of completing work at a particular time
  • Often unable to react in real time to learning problems
  • Will need to find different ways to communicate or demonstrate something that may be difficult for the student to understand.
  • Communicating more with writing or videos, language needs to be straight and direct, so that it does not become misinterpreted.


Students in an online situation are:

  • Will have to motivate themselves and manage their own time to study more.
  • Able to avoid participation if they are less motivated or don’t understand the study materials.
  • High risk of avoiding studying or dropping out if motivation drops too low.
  • In their home environment; which for some students can be more comfortable, reducing stress, and making them more receptive to learning.
  • Learning to use technology or web-platforms they may have previously used.
  • Do not have the support or distractions of other students in the class.
  • Less time sensitive


Online Learning Needs to be Different

Supporting classroom teachers transitioning to online learning should be supported by materials, systems and resources that are designed around online learning at a faculty or institutional level. Support for teachers in the transition should also be provided including timing and motivational techniques that are effective for use in online learning.

An online course can largely replicate the learning of a classroom course, but it must do it in different ways. For an online course, the study guide replaces the classes; and it needs to be seen exactly that way.  Classroom teachers have an inbuilt tendency to view online study guides in the same way they view handouts, textbooks, or sometimes curriculum documents. They are none of these.

  • Handouts, textbooks and curriculum documents are written materials that are used to provide information which the classroom teacher presents.
  • Online study guides are instructions for students to follow. They need provide a sequence of learning experiences, orchestrated to optimise learning. A good study guide applies educational psychology so the student’s encounters with ideas and information is carefully managed and repeated in varied contexts, at predetermined points through the learning experience. Study guides reinforce, strengthen, broaden and deepen learning as the student progresses through them.
  • Study guides will need to keep the student’s interest and motivation by offering information and interactive activities that encourages the student to keep progressing and continue with their studies.

Online teaching requires an intimate appreciation of how remote learning can work, the unique tools and techniques available to make online work, and the intended learning pathway which a student is following in their study guide.

Providing students with a one-way communication (you just talking at them- in the form of a study guide or a video) will be less motivating and will result in a less-engaged student. Where there is an opportunity for the student to ask questions and receive constructive feedback on the work they are doing (whether they are on the right track or need some more help), this will also encourage student motivation and engagement.

It takes time and commitment for a classroom teacher to reach their full potential as an online teacher.  They must start by appreciating the massive differences in the two approaches to teaching. If they have an extensive understanding of educational psychology and a willingness to adapt, they may change faster; but for most classroom teacher, it may take twelve months or more to make a reasonable transition.



By John Mason

Principal, ACS Distance Education  

Whilst many parts of the higher education industry are in turmoil, this does not mean all of the industry is in decline as a whole. Some parts of the industry are experiencing rapid growth.

How then can the industry evolve as a whole to suit learners and employer demands?

The $20 billion dollars in educational exports that Australian universities bring in annually have been jepordised due to travel restrictions and classroom teaching shutdowns that we have seen in 2020 during the pandemic. There are other factors that have been troubling the higher education system before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

In the News

There have been many reports and negative newspaper articles that have emerged this year on higher and vocational education and the troubles the industry is experiencing. For example, The Guardian (Australia) had the following articles in August 2020:

  • TAFE system crumbling from neglect and policy vandalism report warns
  • University students who fail half of their first year courses could lose federal funding
  • University of Melbourne cuts 450 jobs due to projected losses of $1b over three years

From ABC News 18/8/20

  • University underpayment so rampant tutors ‘instructed to do a poor job’ to avoid unpaid hours, former staff say. – Ten Australian universities are now facing the issue of worker underpayment

From Campus Review August/July

  • AEU accuses productivity commission of putting profits above TAFE’s future
  • Australian Universities are in turmoil and that’s not good for VET

Note: Similar alarming reports are being seen in the UK, USA and many other countries.


To understand what is happening, let’s consider how things have changed in the wider world. 

  • Governments have budgetary demands today that simply did not exist in the past. Costs associated with health care, social welfare and fighting terrorism have all increased. To fund increasing costs, governments either need to increase taxes, or decrease spending elsewhere.
  • Colleges and universities have generated income from export education for decades; but having educated students from Asian and South American countries, many of the developing countries are now establishing their own local colleges and universities. Together with the impact of a global COVID pandemic, the demand for export education is diminishing.
  • Employer demand for degree educated staff is also decreasing. In the 1970’s when less people completed university degrees, the skills of a university graduate were in high demand and low supply. In contrast today, with so many more having a university education, those skills are in high supply and lower demand. Research shows employers seek knowledge, skills, experience and passion; but the need for a degree has diminished.
  • Change is faster than ever.  Large, long established institutions, and bureaucratic education systems are inherently slow to change, and are often just not adapting fast enough, given the time spent to implement policy change and adapt course content.
  • Traditional education  institutions have become white elephants.– Costly infrastructure (lecture rooms, laboratories, offices) were needed to deliver courses in the 20th century. The advent of technology has negated the need for such costs; allowing new more lightly funded institutions to emerge and be far more competitive.
  • Globalisation – In the past most people would attend colleges and universities close to home; today anyone can study online with any online college in any country. Cultures have blended, financial systems have become integrated
  • Politicisation – Education has become politicised in many countries. In the USA, Trump threatens withdrawing funding because universities are too left wing. In many countries, governments campaign on the basis of funding or changing education; but with little appreciation of what is causing problems nor how those problems might be attended to. Old, failing management and development systems are frequently funded and applied to review and change education. Governments are seen to allocate money, which bureaucrats spend over a year or two on studying a problem and recommending solutions; which are then funded a year later for action. The net result is often that changes are made in response to a problem, many years after the problem was identified.


There is no doubt that the need to learn will continue to be important, but where and how people learn is in a state of rapid change. There will continue to be opportunities to work in education, but the education industry may be morphing from an “education” industry, into a “learning” services industry.

Nature of Education

The scope and nature of the education industry is changing. Employer driven needs is driving, and the trends appear to be:

  • The importance of the qualification is decreasing as is the importance of formal accreditation systems.
  • Professional development is becoming more important – because of change, it is more important to keep updating learning. Professional and industry bodies are becoming more focussed on the provision of PD, and in some instances, not as focussed on foundation/entry level training.
  • Passion, experience and motivation are increasingly important factors
  • Educational offerings becoming diversified - Blended learning, online, telelearning, video, group training apprenticeships, PBL  - innovation and creative thinking are generating new approached constantly, some more successful than others.
  • Educational psychology and human motivation must be more of a factor in shaping the future of what education looks like in the future.

Changing Ownership

In the past, education was mostly owned and operated by public institutions. That has been changing. Independent private colleges have expanded their market share and also offered courses that larger institutions do not and in different modalities. Big tech & multinational companies have been entering the education market space and gaining a large market share. Small and medium size private institutions have been expanding market share but there has been a lot of volatility. This includes the thousands of private RTO’s in Australia have started up and closed down since 2000.


The education industry in is morphing into a more diverse “learning industry”. It is volatile, largely unpredictable, driven by a mixture of unethical opportunists focused on the short term, through to more ethical innovators; together with many well established institutions, some taking bold and sometimes successful steps to adapt to the volatility, together with others who are lost in the volatility and unable to adapt to the new and emerging world of education. Matching needs and demands of employers and businesses, will help shape what the “Learning Industry” will look like in the future.

Date Added: 10/10/2019

Please download here the 2018-2019 President's Report in which John Mason provides a thorough overview of the education industry through his eyes. Enjoy. 

IARC Presidents Report October 2019.pdf

by John Mason, President International Approval and Registration Centre (IARC), Board Member Australian Garden Council, Principal ACS Distance Education, Publisher and Author.


Date Added: 19/08/2019
The 2019 AGM will be held on Wednesday 9th October at 18.30 in Australia and 09.30 in the UK. 

You can download the draft agenda for the meeting here. The final agenda will be issued to all members via email.

This year we celebrate 20 years in education quality management and we encourage you to come along and get involved in this event. 

We will host the following: 

Achievement Showcase Event where members can share their most positive experiences in business and education. 

Learning Trends professional development workshop. 

Roundtable discussion on "Why micro-learning matters?"

Networking and social event - meet the team behind what we do.  

Contact us to find out more 

[email protected] 
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