Is it worth paying double the fees?

I am currently researching opportunities to study for the Certificate in
Personnel Practice. One local university has been named a ‘centre of
excellence’ in the personnel field, but its fees are twice that charged by
other institutions. Is it worth it? Will prospective employers care where I
studied, providing I have the qualification?

Johanna Simons, managing consultant, MacMillan Davies Hodes

The Certificate of Personnel Practice, awarded by the CIPD, is an excellent qualification
for those setting out in their HR careers.

If you are committed to studying it, there are a number of study options
other than universities. These include Institutes of Education, consultants as
well as flexible and open learning facilities. For more information on
programmes see www.cipd.co.uk

If a university has been named a ‘centre of excellence’, this is because it
has excellent research and library facilities; it has not been awarded because
of the results it has achieved, although the two could tally. Most institutions
that provide CIPD training courses are CIPD accredited and will therefore teach
the same course to the same standard. It should therefore not be irrelevant
where you obtain your qualification. In terms of cost, this bears no relation
to pass rates or facilities. Employers will not really mind where you have
studied. What they will be interested in is what you feel you have achieved out
of the course and how you plan to continue to develop in the future.

Peter Sell, joint managing director, DMS Consultancy

The fact that a university has been named a centre of excellence is more a
reflection of its research activity than the quality of tuition. The course
fees may be dictated by other factors, but the CIPD does not give centre of
excellence to CPP programmes.

Your choice of provider should not only be influenced by price. Look at the
structure of the programme. How good has the customer service been when you
enquired and do you feel you could relate to the people you have met?

It is unlikely a prospective employer will put where you received the CPP
high up on their selection criteria.

Peter Wilford, consultant, Chiumento

– When evaluating where to undertake any course of vocational study, course
fees are only part of the picture. Other factors you should consider are:

– Convenience; how easy is to get to and from this university? This is
particularly important for students remaining in part-time or full-time
employment. Juggling the time required to fulfil both work and study is
difficult enough without adding the pressure of difficult journeys.

– The quality of teaching. The higher fees and ‘centre of excellence’ status
should be reflected in the quality of education, but it is worth checking this
out. Look at the arrangements for work experience, the background of the
tutors, particularly the mix of academic and practical experience and the
corporate origins of any sponsored student.

Have a look at what kind of careers support is provided. Does the department
feature on the milkround of local or national employers? What is the track
record of employment among graduates holding this certificate from this
university? The answer to the latter will tell you whether those extra fees are
making a difference.

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