17 February 2009
Skin therapists present a fresh face with new associate degree
Eleven students from across Australia came together in Melbourne this week for their induction to the new course at the University's City Queen site. The pilot distance education program is delivered online over two years, with additional short blocks of face-to-face instruction.
Course co-ordinator Frank Perri said the associate degree is aimed at students with at least two years' industry experience who have completed a diploma in beauty therapies.
"It's the first of its kind, an associate degree that provides instruction in the use of some newer paramedical treatments such as laser treatment and intense pulse light (IPL). There are also units on the regulatory framework, business models and anatomy and physiology," he said.
"It's pitched at a slightly different group to the full degree program, introduced in 1999. We aim to attract a broad range of students including those who might be sales managers or specialists in one kind of treatment who need to have a solid background in the full range of treatments and the business models used in their delivery."
The first intake of students hasn't disappointed. David Adamson, 56, has a clinic offering IPL in Sydney's Broadway. He decided to enter the beauty profession five years ago after spending most of his life in the construction industry.
"I wanted a career change that offered me the chance of working in a field where the environment was a little more positive, where customers walked away happy and uplifted," he said.
"I was attracted by the technological breakthroughs that use the new pulsating light treatments, and the associate degree is a chance to improve my qualifications in the field."
Another Sydney student, Donya Sobh, had an equally remarkable career change to become a beautician and skin therapist. The former licensed conveyancer put her law degree on hold to become a beautician a few years ago.
"Everyone wants to be beautiful," she said, "but I was appalled to learn how unregulated the industry is. Almost anyone can pick up a laser and start hair removal.
"It's inevitable that this will change with greater regulation and it's important that we have courses like this one so practitioners can be properly trained and recognised."
Welcoming students to the course, VU's Director of TAFE and newly appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Dr Anne Jones, said the course was an example of the increasingly fluid boundaries between vocational and higher education at VU.
"We are starting to see a future in which tertiary courses combine high-level skills and knowledge development; a time when the distinction between the two levels becomes blurred," Dr Jones said.
The University will introduce three more associate degrees this year, all aimed at students working in their selected fields. The courses cover the fields of enterprise skills, aged care management and logistics.
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