“ Distance learning courses, home study, elearning. „
I took a web design course with ICS and ran into problem after problem, to begin with the course material was at least 5 years out of date, extremely poorly written, spelling and grammer mistakes, and factually inaccurate.
The software was a mixed bag of awful to dreadful, some of it was a timed trial which had long since expired and couldn't be used. Some of it was so old it simply wouldnt load on a modern PC, and when I say modern I mean Windows XP! and the rest simply didnt work.
I received an email address with my course, which was a "hotline" to my tutor, after repeated emails it turned out my tutor was not the talkative type, I heard absolutely nothing from him even though I mailed at least 6 times regarding the failed software.
It was obvious that something was very wrong with the course and ICS as a company, after talking to and emailing their customer support manager it was apparent even in the face of undeniable failings in the course and its materials they were not going to give a refund, I eventually got in touch with trading standards who themselves got the brush off from ICS who wriggled and wormed their way out of their responsibilities time and again. I eventually decided that the stress they were causing me was not worth the £400 they had fleeced me for.
I now work in the web development industry and my advice to anyone wanting to learn is to get a work placement at a studio, use the web to scour for learning resources that are current, buy books and magazines, and avoid paying over the odds for the ICS web design courses that mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to a potential employer, not even worth the paper they are written on.
If your the sort of person who loves throwing money down the drain then ICS is perfect for you, for anyone else PLEASE PLEASE dont use this awful company.
I am currently doing A Level Biology through ICS.
I made the payment in full for the course and received my study pack. This consisted of a folder with photocopied pages in. The content is nowhere near enough to get through the course. I also bought a separate study book that they recomended on the website, fortunatley this is alot more concise.
The folder has alot of errors in, spelling mainly but i found it far too basic to get a half decent grade. The forum takes at least 24 hours to show your new thread, or posts so if you want a quick answer think again.
The tutor service is practically non existant, you submit an online query and the tutor gets back to you within 7days. You never get direct access to the tutor which for the price you pay for the course i feel is a scam.
The exams for Biology are crazy! Almost any school/college will take you as an external candidate to do the written papers, however barely anywhere offers the practical units. You cannot gain the qualification without sitting the practicals of which there are two. I phoned every, and i mean EVERY! school in Yorkshire (north, east, south and west) and not one is taking students for the practical examination.
I'm now going to have to travel to Birmingham as that is the closest center i can find, however its going to cost me £250 per practical not including travel expenses! This is apparently cheap, one place in Oxford has quoted another student friend of mine doing the course up to £900 for one practical exam.
ICS do not state that there is a very limited amount of places that offer practicals when you pay for it.
The support period is 18months which if like me you want to do the exams like a normal A Level student as not to rush the learning process and exams is not enough time. Particularly as there is only one chance a year to sit practical examinations.
To anyone thinking of doing an A Level in Science go to a college that will do part time study if you can't do it full time. This has been more stress than it is worth, i now wish i had downloaded the sylabus from AQA bought a couple of books and paid for a private tutor on the odd occasion as i bet that would have worked out alot cheaper than £350 i paid for some poxy ring binders! As that is essentially what you are paying for
I enrolled on their Web Designer Course, the course layout is complicated and hard to follow., Support is very slow, during the course I had to submit my work digitally through their website (the website does not work correctly and will not accept certain types of files)You would have thought that the company selling web design courses will have their own web site functioanal? To top it all I have had course materials missing wrong course CD's sent to me and the list goes on.
I signed up to a Biology course from ICS in August 2011 as I, like many others in the UK, wished to better my life and take the first steps to a better career. I have two young children and i need to provide for them first, so going to college was out of the question as i needed to work. What appealed to me was the fact you could study in your own time, at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home... FANTASTIC! I was quickly sent the reading material and started studying.
THE READING MATERIAL
The reading material was sent straight out to me by courier, once ICS had received my payment. My first impressions of the material was good, I was well impressed with how easy the material was to follow and how very descriptive it was. However, after a few chapters i noticed a lot of the material read as if it had been copy and pasted from numerous text books; repeating definitions and statements merely paragraphs apart, as if the author hadn't proof read it. I noticed many spelling mistakes including "Pulmonary Artery" being spelt three different ways, within the same chapter. Then if things couldn't get worse, i started to receive emails from ICS saying that some of the material i had received contained mistakes and that i would have to download and print off the amended pages. To my horror the pages which needed to be altered, i had already studied, which meant i had to redo them. For What I paid i was expecting a much higher standard of work, but the mistake-filled ring binder i got was a joke. Most of the material i could have easily found myself on the internet or in a library.
On a more positive note the exam papers they sent are very useful for practicing your examination technique, especially if you haven't sat an exam in a while.
Two words... None Existent. The actual support you receive is a joke, even though on the homepage of ICS it clearly says -
"We know that learning from home needs real willpower at times, which is why we ensure you're not alone. You'll be supported by expert Tutors, Mentors and fellow students to help you with day-to-day inquiries so you'll never feel alone."
I reported a problem with my login to the student community, on the ICS website. I received an email Three days later; obviously it was an automated response that stated i would soon hear from an advisor about my problem. A week passed before i got a response, a whole week. This is clearly not a fast 'day to day' service ICS claims it is. It took four more emails to ICS to sort my login problems out, each another week between responses.
THE EXAMINATION PROCESS
ICS clearly says, after they have taken your money, that they do not offer any examination process or coursework. It is you own responsibility to find a third party examination centre, such as a school or college, who will allow you to sit the exams, which will costs you more money. Finding an examination centre where i live was practically impossible, most took an admin fee just to merely enquire if i could sit an exam there. I have been so put off by this i have quit the course and intend to enrole at a proper college in September 2012.
In my opinion... don't waste your money. The service and support is terrible, the reading material is full of mistakes and you could probably download a syllabus from AQA and study in your own time for free on the internet. But at the end of the day it's your decision.
ICS is the WORST company I have EVER come across - all the good reviews are written by them !!!
They steal your money and offer you NO SUPPORT AT ALL !!!!!
I would NEVER recommend them as they do not deliver at all what they promise !!!
You receive NO SUPPORT WHATSOEVER - they only get back to you when you threaten to contact trading standards or leave bad reviews !!!
They are a cowboy company and after contacting them 5!!! times with 2 questions they only got back to me once after I told them that if I didn't get a response I would contact Watchdog and trading standards !!
STAY AWAY FROM THIS BUNCH OF MONEY GRABBING THEIVES DO NOT GO NEAR THEM !!!!!!!!!
ALL I CAN SAY IS STAY AWAY - TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW BEFORE THEY MAKE A MISTAKE TO PART FROM THEIR HARD EARNED MONEY !!!!
Thankfully I worked this out before I paid any money! **BEWARE** They market courses as one thing, but the certificate you recieve at the end is something completely different. You may end up with something that you don't need or isn't helphul.Admissions staff are poorly eucated and I found they had very limited understanding of the qualifications network. **AVOID**
A couple of years ago I signed up for a Btec Certificate in Makeup Artistry through this Company. It cost approximately £700.00 in total, including registration fees and awarding certification fees.
I was under the impression that I would receive everything I needed (makeup pallets etc) I was very disappointed for what I got for my £700.00! - One folder, a text book and a few very cheap looking makeup tools and cleansers which I cant imagine cost anymore than £10.00! Although looking online recently - I see there is a slightly different set of tools / equipment which you receive - from the Beauty Suppliers they probably cost approx £20-25.
Thats all very well I suppose - its the Certification that matters - but when you are carrying out your assessments - I found I needed an awful lot more than what came in my kit - I spent a futher £150.00 in products. I feel the money I spent was outrageous for what I received and really I dont think I spoke more than twice to anyone at the Company during the time I was registered - so I really wonder why it is so expensive!
In fairness they do have an online service and forum and reply to your messages etc if needed and you do have a 14 day timescale to cancel - The problem I found was because I didnt receive my kit until the second module (when it was needed) I didnt realise how little I had received for my money!. Overall I certainly wouldnt be in a rush to sign up for another course with this Company! Ive spent half this amount on Beauty Therapy NVQ Courses and received a proper kit in that price costing over £120.00.
ICS -International correspondence course
Unfortunately l was rather ill throughout my last few years at school, so l missed learning a lot of Maths and never managed to do my Maths GCSE. So about a year ago l decided to start a home study GCSE maths course. I had high expectations because l have studied with the Open University before and found the learning experience pretty faultless.
Around a year ago l signed up for a GCSE Maths course with ICS. I Chose ICS because they appeared to have the most cost affective courses available.
Apparently they are the worlds largest and most experienced home study school, it tells me this in my learning pack.
I paid nearly £300 for my course, which is quite a lot of money, but l felt it would be worth it, if it helped me get through the exam.
l understood that this fee included:
* course materials
* progress checks (test papers)
* access to the member area of the website - includes submitting tests, putting a request in to speak to a tutor, and access to student forums
I was aware that l would have to find my own exam venue and pay the fee for that separately, this seems to be the case with most home study schools.
Registering with ICS
Registering with ICS was the easy bit. Once ld had a look at their website - which was generally easy to navigate clear and concise, l registered online. It was a quick and easy process (almost too easy). You can however register by phoning them 0800 056 3983 and they will then send you a form to fill in and sign. I paid in full, but l believe it is also possible to pay in instalments, which might appeal to many people.
If you request or download the prospectus it has a list of the courses available and what is involved. Courses range from GCSE's, A levels, degrees and work based courses.
After l registered for my course and it was all accepted, it wasn't long before my pack arrived (a couple of weeks max). I was quite excited at all the new materials and eager to begin.
I wasn't sure exactly how it worked, and it all looked rather complicated, but l thought ld figure it out as l went along.
The GCSE Maths course, is mailed in 3 different lots. It comes in a very attractive ring binder, with rather confusing instructions to how the course works at the beginning and then your course materials further in the pack.
There seems to be only one maths course for both tiers, foundation and higher tier. This means that some of the work in the pack says for higher only.
I know that other home study courses provide separate courses for each tier, which l think is probably more practical.
The course materials themselves aren't explained very well at all. The materials follow the AQA syllabus. The course is flexible and you can take however long you like to complete the course, but be aware of the constant changes with the examination board, which may mean your course becomes outdated.
I have, on several occasions become so confused with the way the course materials are explained. Every time l pick the work up l am constantly having to ask my other half what they are talking about, which is very frustrating. Together it takes us so long to work out exactly what they are saying. My other half is really good at maths, but the materials are really poor, so it takes some time to be able to digest the information and make any learning progress.
Unfortunately l have never particularly enjoyed maths but this course has destroyed the little confidence l had in the subject and its become a stress rather than something l expected to enjoy.
The materials seem to touch on one subject briefly and then it skip to another subject... not helpful in the least.
Also their seems limited learning exercises to do. So l have had to spend a fortune with buying other books, just so l have more practice. When you think l have already spent nearly £300 on the course, its not really acceptable.
One of the good things is that the materials are well laid out, pretty clear - in the ability to read it clearly. There are pages to write notes and generally the presentation of the course is very good. The course is easy to find your way to different sections, and at the end of the sections are the answers to the exercises.
The online facilities are pretty poor too, the forums aren't really focused on your particular course so if your looking for help you can look again. I've had a look at them, but haven't really used them because they don't seem helpful. Their seems no particular forum for particular courses.
If your looking for a tutor, well forget being allocated a personal tutor who you can call upon whenever you need. It seems you have to contact ICS direct and they will then put you in touch with a tutor. This can be done online or with a form to post. To me it seems hard work, and rather complicated, just so you can speak to someone and ask for a little help. I've found that its easier to ask family and friends.
Of course the benefits of this course are that the course is flexible. One of the reasons l decided my best option was a home study course. But remember you only get a set amount of time where you are able to contact a tutor, for me this is 12 months.
After every block you have a little test. This requires you to fill in the paper and send it off. You don't get pre paid envelopes or any such luxuries. After l sent my test away to be marked, it was some weeks before l got my result. When l did get the result it was marked and the only comment on the paper was 'put a request in to speak to a tutor if you need'. Yes well they were very unhelpful as you can see.
It was then a couple of months later, when l received a random email telling me my test result.
The tests are merely to help you along with your learning, they do not reflect any final result. But l can honestly say l was not happy with the way they went about the test process. I already knew my mark because ld worked it out with my other half anyway, so l actually got nothing from sending my test result away, a waste of a stamp really.
In my opinion they were unorganised, took too long and were not at all helpful, what would have been nice would have been if a tutor had marked my paper and provided some useful feedback on the mistakes ld made.
To me it seems you are paying £300 for a ring binder full of information, where as you might be better buying a GCSE book from Waterstones. Because it seems this is all you really get for your money.
ICS have generally been efficient (other than my test paper) but not particularly helpful. It seems they do as little as they possibly can. It seems to me that its about the money and not about the learning experience which is rather sad. Rather than calling themselves a college its more a business.
In truth l really don't have a good word to say about ICS. However these are just my experiences, but I wouldn't touch them with a barge pole again. The materials are pretty poor and ICS in general seem rather hopeless.
I would not recommend studying with them. How anyone manages to study for a degree with them l will never know.
It seems a shame, because l think ICS have the potential to provide an excellent service. If only they put that bit more effort into helping their students.
I am not really shocked to see the negative reviews on Dooyoo with very low ratings. Im just sorry l didn't read them first, before l parted with the money to start the course.
I am at present ploughing my way through an I C S home study course in photography. NEVER AGAIN!
I made the mistake of paying in full for my course and apart from the course work turning up, that is the only thing i can say in a positive respect. I found the course unclear in instruction, no support from a tutor, you e mail for tutor support and get message back saying a reply will be sent in 10 days time, this rarely arrives and if it dose it passes you on to someone else who cant help. adobe photoshop 6 was supplied free with this course and once you get the hang of it should be fairly simple but i found the at least on two of my submission photos i was unable to perform the manipulations required because the software would not allow it despite my following to the letter the instructions supplied. eg, could layer one photo but could not work on two images at the same time despite their insistance that i should be able to. after checking with photoshop people themselves, this should indeed have been possible but not with a "elements 6 copy". was told when i sighned up for this course that i had a tear of tutor support but if for any reason i needed more time i could submit up to three years after my first year but would just not have tutor support. my father in law passed away and then i had to go in hospital for a while. I asked if i could take advantage of this option and was promptly told by customer service that if i failed to submit by the end of my year I had wasted my £500 fee and would have to pay again infull for further results. I am now rushing to get my final two exams and 36 image portfolio completed before the time is up. despite not having the tutor support and software i was promised.Dont bother looking on the student forum either, if any student writes anything negative in the hope of recieving assistance from other students strugling with the same problems the messages are promptly removed in favour of positive statements. My advice? go anywhere other than I C S. jackie
I have signed up to do a Child Care course with ICS and everything seems to be going great so far. i've enjoyed getting my teeth into something new and with the discount i got for paying in full i'm quite happy that i'm getting good value! The girl i spoke to helped me make my choice and took me through the course and explained how i could contact my tutor so i feel as if i've got some backing should everything go wrong. She wasn't pushy and let me make up my own mind, even letting me think it over! The coursework seems to be set out well enough although some of the things I've heard can be a bit misleading!
I did GCSe maths with them and found everything to be alright. The study guide was straight forward and any issues I had were cleared up within a few days. Seemed to me quite helpful and the choice to pay in small chunks helped me a lot!
I was quite hesitant about going to ICS - after open uni had hounded me and became really really annoying , and I had started an evening course over a year ago which I managed to find time to attend all of twice! my wife and I have 2 kids, who will require paying though uni shortly themselves and I knew I had to up my skills if I was to stand a chance of going up a salary band! I am nearing the end of my ICS computer programming course and I cannot recommend it enough. I have done 5 hours per week every week - more than is required! and really sailed through it. Materials are high quality and I can always reach someone if I need help. I am really really thankful for all their support. if i can get the next level for the same price per month I'll move on to the next course! although I am turning into a bit of a geek!
I have recently completed a PRINCE2 course with ICS learn. I was unsure of taking a course with them after reading the reviews on here but I received great service throughout. This is a particularly complex subject to study and I felt the need to contact my designated tutor on many an occasion and I always received relevant help and information. In terms of the buying process it was slick and pleasant. My course material was delivered on time. In terms of the value of the course to my career, I have already been offered a promotion in my job based on my new project management skills. One of the most important things for me was the ability to work on it in my own time and at home, meaning other commitments like my dog and cat were not affected! I have already recommended the PRINCE2 course and ICS to my colleagues.
I recently completed my CIM Professional Diploma in Marketing with ICS and, although I didn't really have much contact with my tutor or ICS, I have still completed the course and I am looking forward to getting my grades later this year.
In my first two modules I got two A's so I would imagine that the course material was absolutely fine and I enjoyed doing the work. Finding my way through the modules bit by bit. The course from ICS was set up just the way I would have hoped.
From the reviews below the issue seems to be their customer service and although I spoke to them when I was enrolling, I didn't have any problems so had no reason to speak to them. Everything seemed to go fine. I think if you are suited to doing it via distance learning ICS are fine and as I was happy to learn from text books and the odd guiding word from my tutor so the course was fine for me.
They could have more information on their website so as to point out exactly what each module contains and other issues that you can only get from speaking to them on the phone. I'd probably do another course with them but they don't appear to do the CIM Post grad - shame because for the CIM qualification that I did, they are actually one of the cheapest I found!
Am I the only one who had a positive experience?! I did my GCSE English and had no problems whatsoever online and on the phone if I had a query. I am doing my Maths just now and have recommended Ics to some of my friends and they have been ok so far. In fact quite good.