At the gym yesterday the TV news in the changing room carried an item about Advent Computer Training going bust. One of the guys there said that he had been a victim of this company. He said a high pressure salesman had come to his house and promised him a highly paid career and that they would help him find a job. So he signed up to a finance agreement with Barclays for Â£5,000. When the course arrived it was no good for him and he gave up on it. But he still has to pay off the Â£5,000 to Barclays with several years of monthly payments. Even with Advent bust he will still owe that money.
It appears that what finished Advent off was Barclays stopping the supply of such student loans. In their words: “Barclays Bank are the main student funding partner and we have worked with them closely for several years. Just before Christmas Barclays informed us that they were pulling out of the student training sector with effect from 31st January 2010.”
So you can see what was happening here. Barclays were giving out loans to students and then handing the money over to the company. The company should have held that money in trust and only used it as the course progressed. But they didn’t. Obviously it was being spent, going somewhere, almost immediately. So when the supply of new money dried up there was nothing left to finance the training that the students had paid up for. Within weeks the company was bust.
I don’t like this business model. Why should the provider of a service (in this case training) be paid in advance with a lump sum for several years of that training? Universities and colleges don’t do this.
In my opinion using a finance company, like Barclays, is also pernicious. The student’s relationship for their course is with the training company, yet their relationship for paying for the course is with the finance company. This is not good.
You can see why Barclays may have got out. Even if the course is brilliant there are still going to be a percentage of people who have bought the wrong thing. And they are caught in a trap with years of monthly payments ahead of them. So they won’t be happy bunnies and, inevitably, they will take out some of their ire against the company they are paying the money to. Barclays don’t need this flack.
And remember that these courses are targeted at the young, the weak, the vulnerable. They are for people who are under educated and want to improve themselves. These people stand no chance against a highly trained high pressure salesman. Many of them become victims, they receive nothing yet have to pay out large payments every month for years. You can read about such victims here, and here.
Don’t these people realise that there are better ways to get an education? The Open University for instance. These guys don’t use high pressure salesmen, don’t use finance companies, have world class course material, give qualifications that are universally recognised, have first class training staff, don’t demand several year’s financial commitment up front and yet only cost a fraction of what some commercial trainers charge.They even hand out financial support to lots of students!
The Open University say: “Want to get a qualification that will help you develop or change your career? Learn a subject in depth? The Open University â€“ voted top for student satisfaction for three years running â€“ could provide the flexibility, the qualifications and the top-class teaching youâ€™re after. For most courses you don’t need any previous qualifications. And with our world-leading blend of supported open learning and innovative course materials, youâ€™ll get an exceptional learning experience.”
For example here is a course that provides an introduction to computing and human-computer interaction, including gesture interfaces such as the Wii Remote. It costs just Â£400. And it counts towards a degree.
Finally, here is some Advent marketing blurb:
Advent Training is Different.
At Advent, we not only provide excellent IT training courses, but we also offer specialist careers advice and support to help our students get a job in IT.
We understand how the industry works and we know what employers are looking for. We constantly research IT jobs in the UK to make sure our courses are up to date, providing you with the skills you need to get a job in IT.
Support Every Step of the Way.
Our certified trainers work closely with you to monitor your progress, making sure you move forward to the next stage only once you are absolutely ready. No-one is left to fend for themselves and everyone works at their own pace.
We also give every student comprehensive study guides, practical advice on exam preparation / technique and unlimited email and phone support throughout their course.
Whats more, our unique, introductory modules provide essential background information to enable you to understand more about computer skills in the IT environment and to be able to talk with confidence at interview or in a job situation.
Advent Training’s technical expertise is recognised through Microsoft’s Certified Partner accreditation.