Unhappy with college course and exam

I am currently 19 years old and just completed a two year beauty course. I would not like to name the college, perhaps in a private discussion . I would like to say I am also new to this website. I am young and not sure if beauty therapy is the career path for me in all honesty, but I have a great respect for all of you hard working beauty therapists out there! It’s not easy. I am CIBTAC and ITEC qualified. I then did the second year in hopes of gaining the CIDESCO qualification.

Unfortunately, the college I was in was a complete joke and none of the beauty students were prepared for this exam! I did not know what I was doing in the exam and I’m also not surprised I failed. I ended up crying halfway through as I was so unprepared and overwhelmed. My fellow students are also very unhappy with the unprofessionalism displayed by our tutors. They were always b****ing about the students behind our backs! I also developed acne and eczema during the two years as I was so stressed. I feel I have wasted so much time, money and effort , and us students were not rewarded with the education we deserved.

I would like to know if anyone ever had to file some complaint to their college, or write a bad review. Sorry to bring all of this negative energy here but I am really mad at my college, and mostly just sad.

Does anyone have any similar horror stories of their colleges or examinations?
Sorry I had to have a little vent....


Well-Known Member
I was a college lecturer for a decade and also a curriculum manager so I hope I can advise you adequately. I also did ITEC, CIBTAC & CIDESCO qualifications.

Some key points:
  • All students have the right to take their concerns about the quality of their course to their curriculum manager / department head. This would probably start as an informal discussion (say 2 or 3 student reps meeting with the manager). Following this, if nothing changes, students can put in a written complaint which would go higher.
  • Students can also put in a complaint about a specific tutor but you must have good evidence and not just hearsay.
  • Colleges are very on the ball with getting feedback from learners about how their course is going - have you all returned questionnaires / attended 'Student Voice' meetings over the year to highlight issues arising?
  • Did you discuss your anxiety and health issues with your personal tutor throughout your 2 years at college? You should have attended a one to one with her/him at least once per term and help & advice should have been given to you.
  • I'm assuming that you have gained your ITEC & CIBTAC qualifications over the 2 years (rather than one)? CIDESCO is sometimes viewed as just 'icing on the cake' bunged on to the end of a course - in which case don't worry you didn't gain it. What you have achieved will open the career doors you need in the future anyway.
Also, with all the beauty related jobs I have had in the past 30 years, no one has ever viewed CIDESCO as an important or essential qualification to have. May be if you work abroad, it might be viewed differently but certainly not in the UK!

If you feel you and other students have a valid and proven poor experience then pursue a complaint. You might get some changes made or if you've all finished then perhaps a partial refund of fees. I would say though that if this is the first time you have raised the problems to college management then you may have left it all a bit too late. They can't be expected to resolve issues they have not been informed of earlier in the academic year.

I hope you get some resolve to your concerns.

Hi thank you for replying.
I think it was the entire course structure that was the issue. We had 40 case studies to complete. So much time was spent on them and so we didn’t get to do as many practical classes as we needed.

Providing evidence of the tutors unprofessionalism would be rather difficult. There were way too many classes spent just talking and not doing work. Or the teacher would be gone and doing god knows what instead of teaching us...? The level of disorganization baffled me , considering my secondary school wasn’t even that bad.
We finished the cibtac in the first year, and the different itec courses were in the first and second year. Our tutors tried to convince us that we could only do cidesco if we completed the itec course/ case studies which simply was NOT true. I never spoke to my tutors about my anxiety because I do not trust them. They are not the kind of people I feel instinctively drawn too to speak about these problems with. It’s a complex issue and I cannot help but feel somewhat compelled to tell other girls (because hundreds of people apply for this course every year) about the reality of it. I don’t want to review the college solely with an emotional charge. I want it to be cold, hard facts. I know I am sounding a bit emotional now haha! I am happy just to have the cibtac qualifications if I ever am stuck for work. Once again, thank you for your reply!

I didn't rate the teacher at college that i did my nvq 2 with struggled ever since

What happened?


Well-Known Member
Teaching in primary and secondary schools is now very professional. Sadly, adult teaching has not had quite the same improvement in professional standards. It's a bit of a shock when you leave school. Lack of structure, non-measurable outcomes, poor organisation and inadequate facilities are common complaints.

I went to a very selective University and to my shock and dismay it was impossible for anyone on my course to attend all of the mandatory units for each year. There were timetable clashes that were impossible to resolve. I spent a lot of energy and time complaining which would probably have been better invested in making the best of things.

I later went to a private beauty college and we often sat around whilst our tutor (who was head of department) dealt with department management issues, leaving us twiddling our thumbs - or restless as a "thrown in the deep end" substitute tutor stumbled her way through a lesson, reading out loud from a chapter of our text book. We at least had enough couches in our rooms for the class size. Talking to some of the other students, they were in classes with twice as many students and not enough equipment which must have been awful.

My point is that adult teaching expects students to take responsibility for their own learning. Students must turn up on time, prepare for class, learn the material. If you don't do this it is bad for the whole class. You are expected to work co-operatively with fellow students and support each other in your mutual learning experience and work collaboratively with the tutors. You may feel that your teachers didn't teach you, however, vocational training is very much what you make of it, just like work.

This can be a bit of a cop out for some courses where you can end up teaching yourself. However, even a poorly run course with inadequate leadership or a disappointing support culture is excellent training for real life work. In work there are endless pressures: not feeling supported adequately by management; bitchy co-workers; time constraints - because clients turn up late or take ages getting dressed; being short staffed due to sickness/childcare issues or running out of something because no-one remembered to mention low stock - or even because the wrong item was sent in error, on the last stock order.

Value is subjective. I can write here about the complaints that I and my fellow students shared with the lack of relevant exam preparation we had - but our complaint was that we had been obsessively drilled in anatomy rather than in exam passing techniques. I was a bit gob smacked that it hadn't occurred to some students to revise all the modules including the "easy" subjects such as make-up, forgetting that there would be questions on every section of the syllabus, not just anatomy. However, we all left as employable therapists. Two of us had established businesses which we'd set up as students. Working in the industry I've been grateful for the "obsessive drilling" because I needed the knowledge.

As an industry, beauty is in a state of adjustment. The qualifications are lagging behind the industry which is multifaceted with SPAs, salons, clinics and holistic practises all looking to employ beauty therapists.
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Well-Known Member
CIDESCO requires 1600 hours to complete including a mandatory number of treatment hours. Our course counted for 1000 hours but we still had to do 600 hours post graduation - or we could leave after CIBTAC and do CIDESCO after 2-3 years of industry experience.

I sincerely doubt that the time spent doing case studies was unnecessary. This is how you learn vital practical skills necessary for employment. I don't understand how you could have completed your case studies and still felt that you needed more practical classes - this is the practical!

I'm really sorry that you didn't enjoy your course and that you are unsure if you picked the right subject to train in. Unfortunately huge numbers of trained therapists drop out of the industry post qualification and I agree that it's hugely important to select the right course and place to learn.

In time I think that you will look back and feel that you learned a lot about yourself and that the course wasn't all bad. You have learned a very useful skill which you can use throughout your life. Don't feel too bad. Loads of people run up huge student loans and don't actually "use" their degree (like me!). Many of us here trained first in something else, realised it wasn't for us and came to beauty later. It all part of growing up.

Basically we was shown manicure which we did for six weeks that was fine then moving on to acrylic, gel polish and gel extensions application we were shown each system once. Tutor never went round and helped us in 24 weeks she sat at her desk marking work and on the computer. The only way that ive got better is through plenty of practice. Ive just payed for a gel polish course 1 day and a 1-1 with a tutor on acrylics. But i feel that if i was were i am now which is were i shouldve been last year when i qualified but ive learnt a lot messing with acrylic and making loads of mistakes.