Frequently Asked Questions
Does Fortress Learning consider Recognition of Prior Learning?
Everyone is different and we work with you to determine the most appropriate balance of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and Recognition of Current Competency (RCC) supported with Coursework to fill any gaps.
Coursework generally comprises both Short-Answer Questions that assess your knowledge and Projects that assess your skills. Where possible, all assessment is highly integrated to ensure that you are not wasting your time doing the same thing repeatedly. Many of these questions and projects will draw on your experience and allow you to use your own workplace or a simulated workplace environment.
If you are interested in RPL the good news is that we do not have an RPL Kit for you to wade through. Instead, we will work with you and take the time to work out where you are likely to gain Recognition and advise you on the evidence to provide.
Students tell us this avoids the “hit and miss” approach of RPL that is commonly used, and saves them many hours.
Does RPL change the price?
No. If you enrol in one of our RPL-Only or Mostly-RPL options, then your fee will be based on that.
Most people take advantage of the fact that our Standard Programs allow you to complete your program through whatever combination is most suitable for you. It means that you won’t be stung for extra fees if you cannot provide all the evidence needed for RPL, and it means you get lots of good support to help you with whatever way is best for you.
Is it true that you don't take everyone? Why?
Yes, it is true.
There are thousands of training organisations out there, and we cannot be all things to all people. The media is filled with stories of all sorts of horrible experiences with training organisations – we suspect much of this was avoidable.
Experience tells us that taking on someone who is not a good fit is a recipe for disaster – it is not likely to work out well, for them or for us. Instead, there will be friction, dissatisfaction and the likelihood of a successful completion will not be very high at all.
How do you make any money if you turn people away?
It’s true that we probably lose out on short-term income by doing this. But, we are not just here to make money.
Fortress Learning is a happy place to work; our staff are cheery and our students are generally a happy lot. By surrounding ourselves with students who are committed to learning, we find we are able to perform much better for our students.
Instead of allocating resources to overcome conflict, our focus is directed toward promoting success among those with whom we agree on what success looks like. And when those students go out with their Fortress certificates, they know that it stands for something real.
How will I know if I am a good fit?
Talk to us – don’t be scared. By getting to know you and talking about what your program will likely involve, it will soon become obvious if there is not a good fit. This is not about being exclusive, but allowing you to make informed decisions.
We wrote more about this topic here: Why Fortress Learning doesn’t take everyone.
I am really time poor but want to complete a course. Can Fortress Learning help?
While we would very much like to, we are not able to add extra hours to your day.
But, we do understand the everyday pressures of balancing family, work life and studying and we have used our years of experience delivering accredited training packages via distance-learning to develop our programs specifically for time-poor people who are committed to succeeding.
People who choose to enroll with Fortress Learning understand that the best way to demonstrate their skill and ability is through being recognised with a qualification from an RTO with a strong reputation.
You see, we will never allow someone to graduate from any of our other training programs, if they have not authentically demonstrated competence. It is this strict policy, along with the following that has resulted in our strong reputation within the training industry:
- our focus on creating individualised and personalised learning plans,
- our outstanding and dedicated teaching staff along with
- short response times
How long will it take for me to finish a course?
How long is a piece of string?
How long your course will take will very much depend on a combination of two things:
- How much you already know and can do, because this will determine just how your program will be constructed. People with more relevant experience and skills generally need to do less than those who do not.
- How organised and committed you are, because the more frequent and focused the study sessions, the easier and more efficient you will find your program.
Experience tells us that students completing programs entirely by Coursework take about 6 months for a Certificate IV and 12 months for a Diploma. Blending recognition with the Coursework seems to make it closer to 3 months for a Cert IV and 3-6 months for a Diploma.
Some people take 2 weeks, others take 2 years – it’s part of our individual approach.
How long do you allow?
- Diplomas: you have 12 months to complete a Diploma course. Combining Diplomas can potentially reduce the total time required, such as the popular Dual Dip VET/Dip TDD program.
- Cert IV TAE: you can choose between a 6 month or 12 month enrolment period
- Language Literacy and Numeracy (LLN): you have 6 months to complete the course
Do you help me organise my time?
Each Diploma student has a time-based plan developed that identifies what will need to be done and when in order for them to complete within their preferred timeframe.
For Certificate IV students, we provide you with a Suggested Study Plan that gives you a schedule of what to do each week in order to complete the course in 3 months, 6 months or 12 months.
Can I interrupt my course, or extend it?
The answer to both is yes.
We understand that life can get in the way. If you need to take time out to care for a sick family member, because work is super busy or for some other reason, we can provide deferment options.
If you don’t happen to get things finished in time, we have extensions available as well.
Details for both deferment and extension processes are included in the Student Handbook.
I am very experienced. Will I be treated the same way as someone who is not?
To ensure that you do not get bogged down in doing things that aren’t necessary, we like to keep communication open through your time with us and to fast-track your learning where possible.
Experience tells us that things change in students’ work and personal lives, new information comes to hand, and sometimes it is best to change our plan to adapt to this.
We will never allow someone to graduate who has not authentically demonstrated that they are competent, but we will always consider ways to enable each individual student to show their competency in ways that are most suited for their individual situation.
I hear there is a new Training Package coming out. What does this mean for me?
A revised TAE Training & Assessment Training Package was published earlier in 2016.
The process to have the new TAE40116 Cert IV TAE and TAE50116 Dip VET added to Scope was quite complex, and many RTOs chose not to bother. Of the ones who did apply, many were not successful.
Fortress Learning was one of the earlier RTOs to submit the application, and after a 14 month application process, we were successful.
That means the Certificate IV and Diploma TAE qualifications that we offer are the latest versions.
How long do you take to answer my call, email, marking?
If you are like most people, then studying will just be one of many things that you are doing. When you have a window of opportunity, you will want to make the most of it.
For that reason, we like to help people keep moving, and one way we can do that is to respond promptly. We have strict standards that govern everything that we do – from emails to missed calls and marking, and we consistently beat those (as many testimonial comments attest).
Take a look at our service standards.
Is online learning better than face to face?
This is a difficult question, and lots of people will have different answers.
We asked 300 people what they thought, and their answers are in this article: It Just Depends: Online versus Face to Face Learning
To learn more about how we approach online learning, take a look at this one: How Does Fortress Learning Respond to the Challenges of Online Learning?
Because there is not one best way for everyone, we offer a combination of online and face-to-face delivery options, as well as options that blend both.
How come your fees are so cheap? How come your fees are so dear?
We get both of these questions.
Since VET-FEE help came in, we have seen an across the board increase in fees for programs. Do those fees reflect the cost of delivering the programs, or reflect good value?
Honestly, we don’t know.
What we do know is that in 2009 we started Fortress Learning with the goal of making quality training accessible. That means that our business is built on a foundation of operational efficiency. Your fees represent what we need to cover the costs associated with delivering what we see is a quality product to motivated people.
Because we do not charge many thousands of dollars per student, and because we do not seek any external funding, our costs per student are much lower purely because you are not required to pay the higher costs that come with advertising and administering those things.
What we do know is that it is really hard for people to make a choice in what is a very challenging marketplace of training. Who to believe? What to do?
All we would suggest is that you do your best to make an informed decision, and if talking with us can help with us, then give us a call.
Unique Student Identifier
USI: What is it?
Essentially, a Unique Student Identifier is a way of making all your recognised Australian training available in one place. It will be easier for you to prove you have completed training, gain recognition of prior learning, and you can control who accesses your records and when.
Read more here: http://www.usi.gov.au/About/Pages/default.aspx
When should you create your USI?
We encourage you to create your USI and provide it to us as soon as you can. For most students, the process will only take 5-10 minutes.
Top tip: When creating your USI, it is advisable to request that they notify you via email, since postal notifications can take weeks.
How do you provide your USI to us?
When you have created your USI (details of how to do that below), log into your Dashboard and enter your USI through your profile page (click ‘My Profile’ link on the right hand side of the page). The following diagram will help.
We then need to verify it, and will aim to do that within 8 business hours. After we have verified your USI, you will be able to submit your assignments as usual.
If, after 8 business hours, you are still unable to submit assignments through the Dashboard, give us a call.
How do you create one?
Follow the simple steps here:
What happens if you don’t provide us with your USI?
Since it is a legal requirement for all RTOs, we need to ensure that all our students provide one. To facilitate this, from 1 Jan 2015, we will be restricting the accounts of students who have not yet provided a valid USI. Specifically, you will be able to download assignments, but you will not be able to submit them. You will also not be able to graduate until you have provided a USI.