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Credentials - We Know It's Important To You! 

ACS Distance Education has been in operation since 1979. The school has established a high level of respect in academic circles and industry within a range of disciplines delivering courses from both the UK and Australia to people in most countries around the world.   

Staff include world renowned academics from several countries - we are proud of our staff. The school maintains active partnerships (affiliations) with respected institutions in several countries including England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA and France.

The school's founder and Principal John Mason is a prolific writer. He has produced over 150 books and 4,000 articles published across a career spanning 5 decades. He has been elevated to the distinguished level "fellow" by three professional associations, two Australia and one in the UK. Mr Mason has served on many industry bodies over his career, and is currently President on the Executive Board of the International Approval and Registration Centre, and Ordinary Board Member, representing education, on the Australian Garden Council.

The School's credentials are varied, take a look:

  • ACS is approved by IARC. You can see the standards they endorse and adhere to on the IARC website.
  • ACS is affiliated with a group of around a dozen other colleges, located in the UK, Australia, USA, New Zealand, Philippines, France and Ireland (see Educational Affiliates). Many of these colleges hold government endorsement and offer articulation for ACS graduates into accredited qualifications or formal qualification progression pathways. Affiliates in the Europe include Warwickshire College, ADL, YesLearnFast, Learning Cloud, Academy of Health Courses and Warnborough College. Warnborough College offers a range of degrees in Psychology and other subjects. You can find out more about the BSc In Psychology and Counselling on their website.
  • Working in partnership with businesses and industry more broadly. Over the decades, ACS has developed many courses with input from industry organisations ranging from accreditation bodies to professional associations and businesses. You can view the different disciplines within which we offer courses, and a full listing of ACS courses by following the link here.
  • ACS was classified as a preferred member training provider by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
  • Articulation pathways have been established with affiliates in both Australia and in the UK to allow graduates of our Fitness Leaders Certificate to obtain additional accredited fitness industry standard qualifications.
  • ACS is a College Member of Complementary Medicine Association assessed to teach a range of areas including Counselling, Nutrition, Natural Therapies. ACS students can join NOW. Find out how you can be a member here.
  • Selected Health Science courses articulate into diploma and degree level qualifications at government recognised Australian institutions.
  • UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112.

ACS as an organisation and staff are members of many UK and overseas professional and industry bodies, including but not limited to:  

Complementary Medicine Association (UK)

Institute of Horticulture (UK)

Institute of Horticulture (Australia)

Australian Nursery Industry Association

International Herb Association

Future Farmers Network

General Teaching Council

Association for Coaching (UK) Organisational Member (OMAC)

Alternative Technology Association

The Permaculture Association

Study Gold Coast

National Council For Family Relations (NCFR)






What does all of that really mean for you?  

Let us try to explain as recognition can be a complex concept. There are hundreds, or possibly thousands of awarding and certification bodies around the world, which makes it very difficult or impossible to map any course or qualification into one single system. Simply, there is no worldwide standard. Not even degrees are always accepted from one region or country to the next. 

The news is not bad though, for online learners, in fact all students today, we are pleased to say there has been a shift to recognise all forms of learning. That means all short courses and training completed or attended over years of an academic career, may now be included in formal RPL applications. This means students no longer need years of degree or postgraduate studies to be deemed educated, skilful or knowledgeable. 

So NFIFL (Non-Formal and Informal Learning), an abbreviation coined by the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, is seen as completely valid in everyone’s educational or academic career. We also see micro-credentialing and ‘enrichment learning’ gaining the attention of trade, education, and political departments. A move in the right direction for anyone passionate about learning. 

There's no doubt, there's a long way to go to help more people understand the evolving educational landscape. Many people continue to assume a course is credible if it is "recognised" or "accredited".  We would like to highlight that accreditation schemes vary enormously in their standards. Going back to the higher education sector, let's consider how many of the unrivaled, preeminent courses are not 'accredited' at all. Many institutions running courses are self-accrediting and self-awarding.


Take Our Credibility Quiz 

Here's a little quiz you might like to try.  Take at look at our scoring system below. Naturally the higher the points achieved, the more confident someone can be in a school or course being deemed as recognised (in industry) or credible. 

Question: Can more than 50% of graduates readily find work soon after graduating?

Points 5

Question: Can more than 75% of graduates readily find work soon after graduating?

Points 5

Question: Does the course provide a foundation that kick starts life-long learning?

Points 5

Question: Has the institution been established for a substantial period time (over 5 years)?

Points 5

Question: Do all staff have significant industry experience in their discipline and at a level above what they teach? 

Points 5

Question: Do all staff have formal qualifications at or above the level they teach?

Points 5

Question: Is the course constantly and quickly changing, in response to changes within the discipline? 

Points 5

Question: Is the institution or are staff members of industry organisations in disciplines taught?

Points 5

Question: Is the institution visible (e.g. readily in internet searches, magazine ads, at trade shows etc)? 

Points 5

Question: Does the institution maintain and promote an open and ethical policy of dealing with students?

Points 5

Question: Is the institution or any courses formally endorsed by one or more government accreditation or recognition body?

Points 5 

Question: Is the institution subject to auditing by an external body (e.g. government or non-government QA authority)? 

Points 5

Question: Is there a formal relationship established with one or more other credible businesses, colleges, schools or universities?

Points 5

These questions are designed to help lead your thinking on what really matters when it comes to credentials. 



"The main difference between my experience of studying at University and studying with ACS is that at University you're basically regurgitating text books. In contrast, ACS assignments can be quite involved requiring hands-on application of principles, creative thinking and analysis."  Dennis - Certificate in Garden Design Graduate.


"When I walked into the ACS office to attend a job interview back in January of 2009, I had no idea I was about to embark on a long-term professional relationship with a school that continues to inspire me today. I was immediately struck at how seamlessly ACS could respond to student needs. How refreshing I thought! As time has passed, I've become an advocate of the school's vision and work to maintain our position as the leading place to learn online". Jade Sciascia - ACS Tutor, Enrolment Advisor and Course Developer. 


Your Career Development and What Lies Ahead...

Completing any course of study is only one step in many steps! Please watch our video to guide you through some ideas on how to develop yourself.  Investing in yourself, is the only way to create a fruitful and fulfilling career. 


Further Information 

ACS has held various other formal recognition (including government agency recognition in more than one country) in the past, however many national systems of recognition added significant costs to our business which over a long term would have been passed onto students and prospective students. Without providing any significant benefit to graduates, we opted out of government regulation systems to a simple yet robust system of quality recognition. 

ACS believes that the most ethical and efficient approach is to focus our attention on our courses and our students. The result is a high level of satisfied graduates who have a high success rate in industry.

We hope you found this informative, contact us today to learn more!

Find out about our enjoyable courses for transition training or professional development,

engaging introductory level starter modules or hobby short courses, 

or our challenging advanced qualifications to get you noticed in the world of work.


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 We look forward to hearing from you! 

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