Should RTOs be allowed to advertise on Groupon/Scoop it etc?

Some of you would have seen the latest marketing and advertising guides from ASQA. I found it really interesting that they referred to guidelines for marketing online and included Groupon and Scoopon.  These sites offer substantial discounts for products and services and often offer discounts for short courses such as one day non-accredited training sessions. However, the sites can also be found to sometimes advertise Diplomas, Cert IV TAEs and the like… the site requires you to put in some information and then pay for the product or service up front.

Outside of the whole fees up front issue and the issue of how someone provides a ‘quality’ course like a Certificate IV for under $400, how do sites ensure suitability of students on these sites? The answer I come up with? They don’t. 

So this leads me to the question… should RTOs be allowed to advertise on these sites at all? Obviously, education is moving online, which I think is fantastic, but there are ways of doing online enrolments that still ensure you can meet suitability (supported with phone, skype or online conversations, validating id and enrolment documentation etc). However, these ‘deals’ often come with strict timeframes and significant discounts in order to increase the pressure to enrol, similar to shopping centre signups and other high pressure scenarios where students don’t have time to read all the fine print and understand what they are getting into.

I would be interested to hear from anyone who has advertised on these sites and can still meet the enrolment, suitability requirements.  I always try to have an open mind, so I welcome any feedback. Further to that, it would be good to hear what others think, are there other sites, places, etc that we should review whether advertising for RTOs should be allowed?

Bea Chambers
Bea Chambers