Like the previous reviewer, this is my personal view of my time and experience of studying at WAES.As government funding has been withdrawn for a large number of students, i.e the 'working poor'. Fees for many have increased greatly. So choosing a college and a course, investing in yourself can be an expensive process and needs to be considered carefully.I've taught adults for over 20 years and I'm constantly taking courses and training all the time. I've attended many colleges and universities all over London. So I'm shocked at how poorly run WAES is compared to other London colleges. Unhelpful reception staff, emails and telephone calls not returned an intrusive enrolment process, a difficult website to navigate. The list goes on. The only saving grace is their jewellery dept teaching staff are exceptionally good & for that reason ONLY, I would recommend
In the Summer of 2006, I completed a year of part-time study with Westminster Adult Education Service (WAES). This is purely my personal opinion on their services that I sampled as a part-time (evening/Saturday) student & I am sure that many hundreds of students each year will continue to benefit from their vast array of courses in the Westminster Area.
Their blurb states: "Westminster is one of the most diverse and dynamic communities in Britain. Westminster Adult Education Service (WAES) reflects that diversity and dynamism. We are one of the largest adult education providers in the country."
WAES have five (5) main academic sites, based in the Westminster area. They are the Abbey Community Centre, Great Smith Street, SW1P 3BU; Amberley Road Centre, Amberley Road, W9 2JJ; Ebury Bridge Centre, Sutherland Street, SW1V 4LH; Frith Street Centre, 19-20 Frith Street, W1D 4RJ and Maida Vale Centre, Elgin Avenue, W9 2NR. These are supplemented by over 70 satellite centres and these offer a few courses at each location, serving specific community needs.
I studied Holistic Massage at the Ebury Bridge Centre and can only offer my opinion on that one site.
I truly could not even begin to go into how many courses they run at WAES - nor even take a guess at how many different subjects they cover! I think it is fairly safe to say they cover pretty much something for everyone!!
I found their fees surprisingly competitive, in comparison to other colleges in the SW London area. My year course fees undercut other courses by a good £50.
Again, I can only speak for experience on the Ebury Bridge Road. It has a terrifically slow lift (designed to make all us lazy people get fit by walking up the stairs in sheer frustration!) and a cafeteria which had an odd array of dishes available on Saturday lunchtimes (TIP: bring your own), and on some occasions we found the cafeteria shut in the evenings during our break-times, which was not good news.
We used one of the larger rooms on the 1st floor, specifically set up for all the holistic courses (such as aromatherapy, anatomy & physiology, holistic massage) and it was always either too hot or too cold! However, most of the equipment was of a good standard and we didn't ever seem to run out of necessary items (such as couch rolls).
The one bug bear was tables. For the majority of our anatomy & physiology course, we had to physically collect and carry tables from other rooms, rather than it being set up for us! We also found that the link enabling laptops to be run as teaching aids was broken ... it was the little things like this, with numerous requests for assistance, that made it rather wearing on our good humour.
On the whole, I think WAES has a good reputaton for their teaching staff. I highly rate my ex-tutor (Holistic Massage) and anyone who is taught by her this year (2006-2007) is very lucky! However, all tutors were badly let down by the general organisation of the department and we, as students, did fare very badly out of this with a distinct lack of communication throughout the entire year.
This is where WAES really did fall down, in terms of our course-specific organisation. The department responsible for holistic training was run from another site (their main site, Amberley Road) and the communication between department and students (and noticeably, department and tutors) was absolutely appalling. For this reason alone, I would personally not return there to study. The lack of communication and care was so bad at one stage that I resorted to complaining directly to the awarding body of the qualification I was studying.
I find their "browse courses" option devilishly difficult to get to where I want to be - this could, of course, just be me! But they do have very clear map locations online and clearly state the services they have on offer for students (they seem to be very switched on with this, although I never had need to use them). TIP: If you are looking for the contact page, there isn't one! Look at the bottom of the page, left-hand side for the main telephone number.
So there is my potted review of WAES from my own personal experiences. I have to say that I DID pass my courses with flying colours, so the tuition is well worth it at the price ... just hang on to your nerves and keep fighting for what's yours, if it isn't given to you! Good luck and happy studying :)