At a professional learning event I went to last year one of the speakers warned against the 'all good news' approach to the use of ICT in education. He quoted statistics to show a huge drop out figure for online courses in the US. I was a bit skeptical at the time but maybe he was right and here is some local data ( From the Age Education Facebook site ) to prove it.
Nearly all disadvantaged students studying online vocational education training courses are dropping out, but enrolments for online courses in the sector are rising, prompting further concerns over the due diligence performed by VET colleges.
The latest government statistics show a staggering 7 per cent of students relying on the VET FEE-HELP loan completed their courses between 2010 and 2013. This compares to nearly 40 per cent of disadvantaged students who finished their degrees internally.
Despite the low completion rate, the Department of Education's figures show the number of students on the loan choosing online VET courses is steadily growing.
The $96,000 loan for students doing a diploma-level certificate or above is to be paid back to the government when the student earns more than $53,000. Students dropping out of courses don't get reimbursed unless they leave before the the census date – usually two months after enrolment.
Widespread abuses of the system were revealed in parliamentary and senate inquiries, while the Auditor-General has indicated there may be an examination of VET FEE-HELP misuse.
The Consumer Action Law Centre's chief executive, Gerard Brody, has raised alarm over a rising number of complaints they are receiving over inadequate online courses, which they say has been driven by the availability of the VET FEE-HELP at private colleges.