Best CX Companies List profile: TAFE gets personal with education

Executive director Theresa Collignon talks about catering to different learning styles, getting the right student-teacher ratio, and working closely with industry to build the skills needed for today and the future

From left: Fifth Quadrant's Kristi Mansfield, TAFE's Theresa Collignon, and Flamingo's Julie Trajkovski
From left: Fifth Quadrant's Kristi Mansfield, TAFE's Theresa Collignon, and Flamingo's Julie Trajkovski

For Theresa Collignon, executive director of TAFE Directors Australia, going through tertiary education was in no way personalised: There were lecture rooms filled with almost 1000 students, and lecturers often used the same method to deliver lessons to a wide variety of students.

Knowing what it’s like being just another student among hundreds in front of a professor during her time at university, Collignon is convinced of the importance of a personalised experience, especially when it comes to learning. And that’s why the education institution is striving to improve customer experiences through a more tailored approach to its students.

TAFE won the People’s Choice award in the Government and Education industry category as part of the inaugural Best Customer Experience Companies List for 2014. The award was based on the votes of more than 2500 Australian consumers. Read more: Full list of Best Customer Experience Companies List winners

Not all people learn the same, so making them all read from a book or listen to lectures will not always result in improved learning outcomes for students, Collignon said. Being open to shaking things up in the classroom, such as being more visual or practical, is one way TAFE goes about personalising the experience for students.

“The how-tos, technical and practical vocational education, that really resonates with many, many people,” she said.

Keeping the classrooms small enough so teachers can factor in time to catch up with each student or have more one-on-one time is also key in a personalised education experience, Collignon said. In the Transport and Logistics course, for example, there are about 30 students to every teacher.

“At TAFE you do get a personal experience - you can have a conversation, you can get guidance, you can ask questions virtually through an online portal or ring somebody up or go into TAFE,” she said.

“The educators are tapping students on the shoulder and saying ‘I think you should go on and do this’, and they are personally giving recommendations about what next for this person’s life and their career.

“I didn’t have some of that experience in my education.”

Industry input into the design and curriculum for courses is another focus of TAFE. “The training packages are designed with and for industries. So what you have is the connection between the VET sector and industry through the design of the curriculum. It’s a voice for industry to say these are the sorts of skills we need our people to be able to learn in this particular industry,” Collignon said.

This also ensures TAFE stays relevant in a quite competitive industry. In the VET sector alone, there are about 5500 registered training organisations, with TAFE representing 1 per cent of that, Collignon said.

However, TAFE educates more than 1 million students a year, with 63 per cent of all vocational students studying at TAFE, she added.

Flexibility is also key to not only attracting students but ensuring they are able to cope through their course and reach completion. “Most of the people that go to TAFE are not going to TAFE full time. There are a lot of opportunities to study and work, and that’s hard,” Collignon explained.

“There’s a big group of 20-35 year olds at TAFE, and they have other things going on as well in their careers and families. So it’s understanding timing of scheduling [classes], and it’s not always in person as you can do virtual learning. I think it’s about accessibility and support as you go through your studies.”

Keeping fees affordable is also important but a challenge in the current political environment, Collignon said. The introduction of entitlement models, full fee higher education courses at some TAFE Institutes, and a general tightening of government contributions towards the cost of training are all contributing to the financial concern.

Scholarships and creating more fee options is one way to help ease the cost pressures for TAFE students. Collignon heads a scholarship foundation at TAFE Directors Australia for high performing students to receive fee support. The money is raised through donations, fundraising events and corporate philanthropy.

“There’s a plethora of choice now. We want merit scholarships that are industry orientated to attract the best future employees,” she said. “We want to support the students with the most potential and the greatest achievers.

“But there are also equity scholarships to support the financially disadvantaged because it’s tough. If you are paying fees, supporting a family and running a car, for example, just a small amount of scholarship can make the difference for someone continuing their study or even start it.”

Check out our other in-depth profiles of inaugural Best Customer Experience Companies List 2014 winners

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Signup to CMO’s email newsletter to receive your weekly dose of targeted content for the modern marketing chief.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Conversations over a cuppa with CMO: Microsoft's Pip Arthur

​In this latest episode of our conversations over a cuppa with CMO, we catch up with the delightful Pip Arthur, Microsoft Australia's chief marketing officer and communications director, to talk about thinking differently, delivering on B2B connection in the crisis, brand purpose and marketing transformation.

More Videos

Great content and well explained. Everything you need to know about Digital Design, this article has got you covered. You may also check ...

Ryota Miyagi

Why the art of human-centred design has become a vital CX tool

Read more

Interested in virtual events? If you are looking for an amazing virtual booth, this is definitely worth checking https://virtualbooth.ad...

Cecille Pabon

Report: Covid effect sees digital events on the rise long-term

Read more

Thank you so much for sharing such an informative article. It’s really impressive.Click Here & Create Status and share with family

Sanwataram

Predictions: 14 digital marketing predictions for 2021

Read more

Nice!https://www.live-radio-onli...

OmiljeniRadio RadioStanice Uzi

Google+ and Blogger cozy up with new comment system

Read more

Awesome and well written article. The examples and elements are good and valuable for all brand identity designs. Speaking of awesome, ch...

Ryota Miyagi

Why customer trust is more vital to brand survival than it's ever been

Read more

Blog Posts

A Brand for social justice

In 2020, brands did something they’d never done before: They spoke up about race.

Dipanjan Chatterjee and Xiaofeng Wang

VP and principal analyst and senior analyst, Forrester

Determining our Humanity

‘Business as unusual’ is a term my organisation has adopted to describe the professional aftermath of COVID-19 and the rest of the tragic events this year. Social distancing, perspex screens at counters and masks in all manner of situations have introduced us to a world we were never familiar with. But, as we keep being reminded, this is the new normal. This is the world we created. Yet we also have the opportunity to create something else.

Katja Forbes

Managing director of Designit, Australia and New Zealand

Should your business go back to the future?

In times of uncertainty, people gravitate towards the familiar. How can businesses capitalise on this to overcome the recessionary conditions brought on by COVID? Craig Flanders explains.

Craig Flanders

CEO, Spinach

Sign in