In the ever-changing vocational education and training (VET) landscape, the factors influencing the choice of the right training provider go beyond course content and location.
A National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) study reveals that the availability of student support services is vital in shaping learners’ choices.
The “Drivers of Student Training Choices – A Focus on Student Support Services” report underscores how registered training organisations (RTOs) offering robust support services gain a competitive edge in attracting students.
The Influence of Student Support Services
This comprehensive study, a result of meticulous research, highlights that RTOs that provide dedicated student support services have a stronger appeal to prospective students compared to those that do not offer such provisions. These support services are essential for all students, regardless of their background or circumstances. Both mainstream students and those from marginalised groups highly value the presence of these services, considering them an integral part of their decision-making process when selecting a training provider.
The research found that students consider support services a pivotal component of their choice-making process when training providers.
Going Above and Beyond: Students’ Willingness to Invest
What adds to the intrigue is that students are not only inclined towards institutions offering support services but are also willing to invest financially to access these services. The readiness to bear additional costs underscores the significance students attribute to personalised one-on-one assistance and group sessions. This signifies that while course expenses remain a primary concern, the availability of support services can sway the scales in favour of specific RTOs.
Nonetheless, while student support services exert a notable influence, the primary driving factors behind students’ RTO choices remain course costs, followed by considerations like travel time and course delivery mode.
Insights for RTOs: Spotlight on Support Services
Managing director of NCVER, Simon Walker, emphasises the pivotal role of student support services: “While the influence of student support services may not be as potent as cost, it is evident that these services play a significant role in students’ selection of an RTO.”
To assist students in making well-informed choices, Walker suggests that RTOs can gain a competitive edge by proactively promoting their available support services online. By providing transparent information about these services, RTOs can better cater to the preferences and needs of potential students.
Guiding Informed Decisions
The implications of the NCVER report are profound, offering RTOs actionable strategies to engage and cater to a wider range of students. To harness the potential of student support services, you can:
- Enhance Online Visibility: Elevate your online presence by accurately highlighting your support services on your website and MySkills pages. Transparency and easy access to this information can entice more students to consider enrolment.
- Inclusive Communication: While spotlighting support for specific groups like indigenous students or those with disabilities is crucial, providing general information about available support services can broaden the appeal to all prospective students.
- Embrace Blended Learning: The preference for blended and online course delivery modes, as evident from the experiment, indicates that you can confidently transition courses to these formats, aligning with post-pandemic trends.
In a world where educational decisions are increasingly multifaceted, the significance of student support services emerges as a pivotal factor. This NCVER research indicates that RTOs with comprehensive support offerings garner more attention and provide their students with a more holistic educational experience.
Unveiling the Research Approach
The NCVER report was meticulously crafted through a comprehensive research process. The NCVER team manually examined a diverse sample of 100 RTO websites, their social media, and MySkills pages. It yielded valuable insights into how institutions display their support services. The findings then laid the foundation for a discrete choice experiment involving 650 participants aged between 16 and 64. This experimental approach enabled researchers to delve deeper into students’ trade-offs when selecting an RTO.
A Stride Towards Informed Choices
The executive summary of the research underscores that comprehending students’ choices is an ongoing endeavour. By shedding light on the impact of student support services on RTO decisions, this study takes a significant step forward in refining how educational institutions approach prospective students. The findings prompt RTOs to reimagine their approach, offering comprehensive and easily accessible information about their support services. This empowers potential students to make informed decisions and enriches the educational journey for those who opt for these institutions.
Conclusion: Shaping the Future of Educational Decisions
Student choices wield power to mould the landscape of training providers.
In the dynamic realm of education, student choices wield power to mould the landscape of training providers. The groundbreaking NCVER research offers a fresh perspective on these choices by unravelling the profound influence of student support services. As students seek quality education within a nurturing environment, RTOs stand to gain by showcasing their commitment to holistic student development. While the allure of support services is unmistakable, this study reminds us that the path to informed decisions is a collaborative journey involving educational providers and the students they serve.
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