Sydney edutech OpenLearning launches ‘pay for certification’ platform Learn with Hunter TAFE

Sydney edutech startup OpenLearning has launched a pilot of Learn.com.au, a new online education platform created in collaboration with Hunter TAFE.

Dubbed ‘free to learn, pay to certify’, it will be free for students to take courses through the platform; they are then given the choice to pay if they want to receive a nationally recognised qualification. The platform aims to increase access to vocational education and training and improve affordability;

Adam Brimo, CEO of OpenLearning, said the startup is proud to partner with Hunter TAFE to provide a learning experience that will prepare students for the jobs of the future.

“High quality education can afford to free,” he said.

“The free to learn, pay to certify model for VET is groundbreaking. The economy is changing and people worldwide are looking to develop new skills.”

Christine Warrington, Hunter TAFE Institute Director, said the Learn.com.au project has been designed to provide students with a pathway to developing qualified job-ready skills.

The platform has launched with two qualifications available, a Certificate IV in Leadership and Management, and a Certificate IV in Business. Each qualification is comprised of up to 12 short courses, or units, focused on developing core personal and employment skills, with students able to then choose electives.

At the end of each short course, students can choose to pay a fee of $125 to be assessed and certified, around $1,250 to $1,500 for a full Certificate or qualification, compared to an average of $3,000 through existing providers. However, students will not be eligible for financial support from the government from the program.

With the number of VET providers growing and their real quality difficult to asses, Brimo believes paying for outcomes is the future of education.

“It’s nearly impossible for a student to know which courses are right for them,” he said.

The launch of Learn.com.au comes at a time when concern about registered training organisations (RTOs), which collect VET FEE-HELP funding from the government for each enrolled student, is growing, with stories emerging of private colleges collecting hundreds of millions in funding despite students cancelling their enrolment.

The deregulating of the VET FEE-HELP system has allowed private colleges are able to set their own fees, leading to a rise in the number of colleges, quality unknown.

According to a 2015 report in news.com.au, just 26 percent of students who enrolled in VET FEE-HELP courses in 2011 finished within three years, while just seven percent of students working towards online certifications completed their course.

“With Learn.com.au, there is no barrier to learning and students can quickly decide whether a course is right for them before paying anything. It’s more sustainable and beneficial for students, society and government,” Brimo said.

The launch comes just a few weeks after OpenLearning announced its platform was being used to teach almost 200,000 students in public universities across Malaysia.

Image: Adam Brimo. Source: Supplied.