Through Distance Learning I gained three internationally recognised, British qualifications while living and travelling in Southeast Asia. I did it by study while travelling with distance learning.
1. BA Hons Degree in Business Administration
2. Diploma in Financial Management (ACCA)
3. Diploma in Hospitality and Tourism Marketing (CIM)
Note: I have the attention span of a squirrel. I can’t learn something I am not interested in. I therefore base my study around interests at the time. For study while travelling I study in airports, buses, trains, hotels, parks, swimming pools, beaches…
1. BA Hons Degree in Business Administration (University of Sheffield)
Not recommended. This involved a lot of blagging as I was actually studying Part-Time with my local college (SERC, UK). I would show up at the start of each semester to register and get the syllabus then disappear until exam time. I did not attend classes and told tutors I worked internationally. They didn’t query it (often).
Study Assignments with Distance Learning – I would communicate through emails and my college’s online student resources give me enough to work with. I would complete coursework, email it home and have someone print and drop it off at the College. For group work, I was a group of one.
Presentations with Distance Learning – Not being there in person is an obvious problem. The first time this came about was luckily for an International Marketing module (group project/presentation). I went it alone and did a study into marketing British sausages in Thailand (Ting-Tong Sausage pictured). I was in the perfect place for study, had some fun with it, completed the project, created a video presentation with a basic camera and Sony Vegas then posted it back to the UK.
Thesis / Dissertation with Distance Learning – At the time I was running a small business bargaining cheap goods at Bangkok’s JJ market, Pratunam and MBK to ship back to the UK to be flogged on eBay. As I base study on current interests I did my thesis on online auctions, eBay and SMEs. I sent it by email for print in the UK and had it delivered to the college.
I graduated with a 3rd bordering a 2:2. Not impressive but unique and no more than expected. While I was meant to be graduating in the UK I was joining friends as they graduated in Thailand. I then had a BA Hons degree to my name.
2. Diploma in Financial Management (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants)
The DipFM course is now discontinued however ACCA Global offer a number of other interesting distance learning courses as do CIMA (Chartered Institutes of Management Accountants). Most qualifications are postgraduate or require experience in finance to enter however there are some foundation courses. An understanding in finance is a basic life skill which is necessary for most middle-management jobs.
Studying with ACCA with Distance Learning
With Distance Learning you receive syllabus and study materials by mail (books supplied by BPP). You then have to learn the material. For study while travelling you will need an address to receive the books. You are assigned an online student account with ACCA which provides study resources and is used to register and pay exam fees. Exams are mostly paper based and include both multiple choice and full question sections. You will need to book exams in advance for one of the many study centres worldwide (shown here). Many in Southeast Asia including Bangkok. Also the great thing with ACCA is the courses are very cheap.
My Experience with Distance Learning
Having the attention span of a squirrel I find it extremely hard to learn from books. I therefore took to Youtube and downloaded videos from the London School of Business and Finance. It is all online (I have a lot to thank for Rob Sowerby).
I put these videos to use with past papers downloaded from the ACCA online student account. I later received a letter from ACCA (image below) congratulating me on scoring 3rd place in Ireland and 13th Worldwide. Not certain how great an achievement this is having been bunched in with the Irish (not best known for their intellect) .
As with all my study I like to relate to interests at the time. When starting the course I had recently put a deposit down on a freehold condo in Bangkok. At the time I was living in the UK working temporarily for the family business (politics). For the next couple of years I put my life on hold, wore a suit, worked hard and saved harder. I put every penny into my Bangkok condo to give me a foothold in Southeast Asia. I now live here permanently. My ACCA study helped better understand cost of capital / debt, exchange rates, risk management, hedging and investment ratios for leasing.
3. Diploma in Tourism and Hospitality Marketing (Chartered Institute of Marketing)
An obvious interest of mine. Again it is necessary to have a degree or relevant experience to enter this course. I studied with Capela Travel Training one of CIM’s few Accredited Study Centres to offer this course (also cheapest).
Assignments with Distance Learning – There are 3 modules each lasting 4 months. Each module is completed as a project-based assignment. Complete the assignment, print it and post it to Capela (UK). Capela will submit the assignment to CIM. You can easily complete this qualification in one year (as I did).
Study with Distance Learning – You rarely deal with CIM directly. You will have an online CIM student account (pictured below) which provides study resources and is used to register and pay exam fees. Capela will assign a tutor who will guide you through the project, offering advice. They will assess one draft of the assignment before final draft. Tutors are professionals in the travel industry and experts in what they do.
Payments with Distance Learning – One off payment to Capela Travel (£700). Annual membership fee with CIM (£100). Exam entry fees (£80 per module). You will also need to purchase 3 study books.
My Study with Distance Learning
I was unable to base study on my ‘current organisation’ and was offered an ‘organisation of choice’. Naturally I chose Bangkok, focusing study on the Boutique Hotel, Tenface. While studying the first module (Marketing Consumer Behaviour) I used learnings to help set up a small design and publishing company Candyman Design. While studying the second module (Tourist Motivation and Behaviour) I studied multi-faceted urban tourism in Bangkok and established this boutique city guide website.
I finished the course with an A Grade (Distinction). Capela’s Diploma in Digital Marketing looks increasingly tempting as an extension to my learning.
My Previous Studies
I wasted 2 years of my life at university. Student life had zero appeal to me and I loathed being in a class room. After 2 wasted years the university asked me to leave due to lack of attendance. I put what modules I had completed towards studying the new degree. I then packed my bags and went travelling in Southeast Asia.