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masters degree

Masters Degree

Ever wanted to do a Masters Degree as part of your vocational industry professional development activities?  Well I did, and here’s how I saved $20K and a year of my life when doing mine! 

My business partner and I sold our RTO business at the end of 2017 and at 53 years of age (and for the first time in my life) I was at a loss with what I wanted to be when I grew up.   

I’d thoroughly enjoyed my decade of broad experience within the VET sector and had learnt so much about this industry - but wanted to explore my future options a little before I locked into my next (and final) career adventure. 

I had always encouraged my daughter to consider a higher education pathway after she finished secondary school.   

This flew in the face of the fact that my entire post-school education had been from the ‘university of life’.   

All my ‘skills and knowledge’ were achieved through workplace-based learning and had never involved completing an under-graduate or any other higher education degree.   

Whilst this speaks to the power of vocational training, was I being hypocritical telling my daughter that a university education was highly valued when I’d never tried it myself?   

Got me thinking that perhaps I should give university a go.  Afterall, I’d manoeuvred the complexities of the VET sector so how hard could a little university degree be? 

I made the decision that I would go and ‘experience’ being a university student myself - albeit a seriously mature aged one. 

Perhaps this could open a different career pathway into the world of academia if I enjoyed the experience. 

My first discovery about the higher education sector is how expensive and time-consuming it is to achieve education via this methodology.   

With my selected ‘Masters of Training and Development’ requiring an (approximate) $40K investment this was a serious ouch!   You could get a lot of first class travel around the world for this sort of dosh! 

Plus, the greater cost was that they wanted two years of my life to complete this program full-time – the lost income of this timeframe alone makes the $40K look minimal.   

Surely, if the Principles of Assessment were at play there must be a more flexible, less expensive pathway that I could consider? 

Well there was, and here’s what I did…   

By putting together a lovely RPL Portfolio I was able to ‘very cost effectively’ RPL a VET Graduate Diploma – I achieved the Graduate Diploma of Management (Learning) ie the BSB80615 - in less than a month as the units selected for this Grad Dip reflected my prior decade of experience during my working life within the RTO so rounding up evidence was not too much of a challenge. 

I submitted this to the university with my same portfolio of career experience and was ‘instantly’ granted a 50% credit on the workload of the full Master’s program – that simple 30 days of VET RPL activity saved me $20K and one whole year of academic effort.  (Interestingly, there were no Rules of Evidence at play here given they did not even verify my Grad Dip with the RTO who had certified me) 

It wasn’t until I got into my Masters course work that I truly appreciated what a blessing this credit was and not just on the financial front – donating my weekends to reading a multitude of academic texts so I could write countless 4000 word essays (that could have had the same message articulated in 400 words) just about did me in. 

But I’m pleased to say that I received my $20K piece of academic acknowledgement on a piece of parchment within 12 months from commencing the program and I’ve lived (just) to share my experience.  

Would I still recommend the academic journey to the youth of today considering their options post-secondary school?  Hhhmm – this would depend on whether they were selecting a very ‘practical’ course that involved a serious amount of ‘real world’ placement activity.   

Overall, I’m not a convert to the higher ed world and my heart and future career will stick with the VET sector – despite the fact that our sector may be seen as a poor cousin who is lacking in funding and overall support, we still manage to equip our learners with wonderful portfolios of real world experience and wisdom. 


Kate Baring – April 2019 

PS Interestingly, I was able to achieve results that I was very happy with for all my assignment work until I completed my very final research assignment piece which only limped over the line to achieve a mere ‘pass’.  And the topic for this poor assignment result?  My thesis was on the ‘unsuitability of the TAE40116 for today’s trainer/assessors’ – well, that’s another story for another Blog…