A Leader in Education

Taylors College & Study Group Higher Education

Taylors College provides university preparation programs from its campuses in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Auckland. The school delivers secondary school education for students from Year 10 through Year 12 and, in partnership with some of the leading universities in Australia and New Zealand, specialised university foundation and diploma programs.

Business in Focus spoke recently with Tony Cranshaw, Campus Director, about this nearly one hundred year old institution and its affiliation with Study Group.

George Taylor and Staff, as it was then known, was started in 1920 by a teacher named George Taylor. At the time, it was one of thirteen colleges offering tuition to students at the University of Melbourne. From there, it reinvented itself (and would do so many times in the future) and became a coaching college where it offered revision classes in all courses for university entrance and in courses which were offered by the Victorian Educational Department for tertiary exams. Later it evolved further into a night school which lasted through to the sixties, and it then became a business college and opened up branches in Hong Kong and Malaysia.

During the nineties, it fell on hard times and that is when it was purchased by Study Group and transformed into a university preparation college for international students. Local students also attend and take advantage of the facility’s high school offerings.

Study Group is a global international provider of education, operating from its head office in London. Along with an Australasian division, which covers Australia and New Zealand, there is also a North American division and one in the UK and Europe. “In each of these divisions there are a number of brands. Taylors is a main brand for Australia and NZ, but there are a number of brands that we operate,” explains Mr. Cranshaw. “We build relationships with the universities and service their requirements in terms of providing them with successful international students.”

Study Group works with partner institutions and its own colleges to provide academic pathways that help students achieve educational success. As a provider of private careers education, language education and higher education through its partnerships with a large number of prestigious universities world-wide, the organisation creates desirable educational and career outcomes for students, allowing them to study outside their country of origin.

There are two important aspects to what Taylors College does: it helps students to acclimatise to living and studying in a new environment, and it prepares the student for post-secondary education.

Many of the international students who come to Taylors College arrive from Asia where the educational culture is quite different. “There are a different set of pedagogies and methodologies in terms of teaching and delivery. Most students come from a more teacher centred system,” Mr. Cranshaw explains. “Without their parents and social networks, they need to feel safe and supported so the college has to fulfil that role in order for the students to study well. That’s a big part of the preparation and something we do particularly well in all of our colleges.”

A key group Taylors College has worked with in meeting this end has been the International Student Alliance. This organisation provides a national network of professional guardians as well as welfare and care services to support and mentor students studying in Australia. ISA’s support of students has enabled further growth and diversity in the student population of Taylors College. As an organisation, ISA has cared for students at Taylors College institutions in Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney.

The welfare of students is always a priority. “Our staff has to be well apprised of the needs of international students. This training and professional development creates an environment for top level customer service.” In Melbourne, there is a one stop shop for students where they can deal with any financial problems, pay fees and deal with accommodation as well as see counsellors, career advisers and attendance officers.

Taylors College provides a safe bridge in educational terms between a student’s home country and undergraduate degrees at universities in Australia and New Zealand. The Taylors High School programs, providing secondary school education, and the Taylors foundation and diploma programs, give students access to a wide range of universities in Australasia and beyond. These programs also offer a direct path to university partners if a student meets the respective university’s entry requirements. For example: students in Perth could then attend The University of Western Australia; students in Sydney could then attend The University of Sydney; and students in New Zealand could then attend The University of Auckland, AUT University or Massey University.

“We do have really high success rates,” shares Mr Cranshaw. “Well above eighty per cent of students who do the courses, actually get into the university of their choice.” Taylors College is very proud to be able to have such a high success rate and it is a testament to its programs and abilities of its students and staff.

A large part of the success of Taylors College lies in its ability to remain abreast of the latest educational technology for both students and staff in the classroom. Interactive electronic whiteboards (IEWs), linked to computers in the classroom, have been recently introduced. With IEWs, teachers and students can access online resources very quickly during a lesson. The teachers not only have to be registered within their respective country but also have to be technologically up to date. In order to do this, Taylors College has a large professional development subsidy so that teachers can get the appropriate training. ”Some of this is done on the job, other sessions are provided off campus. Teachers are expected to be using this technology in classes and students also have an expectation that this will be available.”

The Melbourne campus is currently conducting trials in which all the students are being provided with tablets. “Students these days are very tech savvy, so they just love them. No longer do they have to lug around big reference books. All the resources that a student may need are on their iPads. One of our most recent technological advances is our Moodle-based platform, which is used across all of our campuses, known as Study Smart.” Study Smart allows students access to all of their information from exam timetables and schedules to attendance records. Students must maintain an eighty per cent attendance record in order to keep their visas valid, and Study Smart can help them to keep track of this.

There are a lot of concerns to address in running Taylors College. Every university wants diversification in terms of country of origin, with students from all over the world and of different cultures. In return, Taylors College also wants a pathway into a wider range of faculties. It has a structure whereby it meets with its partner’s management committees for open discussions between the universities and Study Group.

It is critical for any educational provider to be able to adapt its programs. Students are very much aware of online information and will do most of their research online before they come to a provider. Keeping materials fresh and up to date is very important, and it is an ongoing challenge to adapt to the varying needs of partner universities.

As Taylors College looks to expand, the team is always working to enhance relationships with their university partners. Conditions constantly change and Taylors College must change with them. “We provide service to the university, so we have to be aware of what they are doing in reference to changes. We need to constantly refresh programs and to keep them relevant.”

Recently, one of the biggest challenges Taylors College has had to adapt to is the preference of more overseas students finishing their final year of high school in their own country. Many universities are now accepting high achieving international students straight into university from high school where traditionally they would have gone through Taylors College foundation studies. Now, Taylors College has to look to new or revised programs to serve the changing needs of students.

“We recruit students via a large network with roughly thirty regional offices around the world, and they interface with agents, but we also have online recruitment. Students can come online and talk to a student adviser about relevant topics including outlines of courses, strengths, and so forth.” The customer relationship management system works well to market Taylors College.

As it has evolved over the past ninety-five years, Taylors College has enhanced the educational opportunities for thousands of students who have passed through its campuses. The students Taylors College has helped realise their dreams will, in turn in many cases, shape the future of their respective countries and in some cases Australian and New Zealand, as these international students bring new cultural influences and perspectives with them to Australia. “Australian history has been built on waves of Italian, Greek and Vietnamese migration,” says Mr. Cranshaw. “A city like Melbourne is very multicultural which gives it a special character, making it a wonderful place to live. This is in part due to the multicultural mix of its inhabitants. International students are currently adding to this special character.”

With nearly 100 years of history, Taylors College has in its own way contributed to this. As an educational institution it has been extremely successful on many fronts.

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December 16, 2018, 6:40 AM AEDT