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Who we are

Who we are - in brief

  • ACS was established since 1979
  • We develop distance education courses; operate our own distance education schools from Queensland in Australia and the midlands in England; and we license the use of our courses to others.
  • We write for print media (eg. Home Farmer in England, Home Grown in the UK).
  • We write and publish ebooks; distributing through both our own online bookshops and a variety of other distributors and affiliates.
  • Established by John Mason, author of over 140 books, magazine editor; publisher, parks director, university and college lecturer; awarded fellowships by IOH (UK), AIH and PLA (Australia)
  • ACS is known and widely respected internationally
  • We have affiliations with around 20 other education bodies,  in seven different countries, including both government owned and nationally recognised institutions
  • We have developed over 600 distance education courses (25 million words), plus books, ebooks, magazines and web sites. All of this intellectual property is owned outright. 
  • We have also developed a lot of software systems (which some affiliates also use), including systems to track and manage student assignments; and a state of the art online course delivery system.
  • Courses are continually being revised and expanded by out team of around 30 academics, working mostly out of Australia and the UK,
  • Our courses are practical, enabling you to not only develop knowledge, but build the capacity to continue learning after your studies are completed.
  • The courses are developed to cater to the "world" as a whole, rather than individual climates or countries. This is a point of difference that sets our courses apart from much of what is taught elsewhere; and that can be a strong selling point.
  • Our courses are experiential, you learn from "experts" by being guided to see, do, think about and experience the things you study.
  • Our ebooks are written with the express purpose of complementing and supporting the learning pathways prescribed by our courses.
  • Our mantra is that sustainable success in the modern, globalised world requires creativity, diversity and currency. Our system is purposefully designed to be different; so that our graduates emerge with a different skills set and a different perspective to graduates from mainstream courses. Being outside of "mainstream" education allows us to "own" our own destiny. We are not susceptible to unpredictable changes in governmet policies or funding, in the way that most education institutions are; and this has given us lower levels of risk both a a business (for affiliates) and a service (for students).


 Some of our UK affiliates meeting in Birmingham in 2013


Our Mission

ACS has operated it's own schools for many years in both the UK and Australia. We plan to continue doing this, but rather than growing our own student numbers, our aim is to increase the number of students studying our courses through our affiliates (i.e. business partners).  By doing this, we can focus our attention on developing and improving course content, keeping courses up to date, and creating support materials such as our e books.

Too many colleges and universities today are struggling to keep their courses up to date, or develop new courses, in a world that is changing aster than ever before. The traditional education model is broken in many ways. Funding is stretched and bureaucratic systems have become increasingly complex. Many institutions struggle to survive, preoccupied with issues that do not really help the whole learning experience for a student.

The world is a global community, and a global economy; but courses are still all too often designed to cater for living in a local or regional situation rather than a global situation.

Clearly there is a need for the "traditional" education model to be reshaped into something different; and with that need comes a great business opportunity.

The international Distance Education industry is huge. The largest institutions take hundreds of millions of dollars each year on course fees. Education is different to other industries though in that it will always need to be diverse, to be effective. Everyone on earth may be able to survive with similar food, clothing and housing; but education needs to be much more diversified. Different people learn in different ways, different people work in different ways, and innovation grows from doing things different to how others do things.

Our courses have been designed to be different to the mainstream; and to challenge every student to learn a different mix of things in a different way to the next student, through a process of self paced experiential learning.


Maintaining Standards through IARC

The International Accreditation & Recognition Council is an association of post secondary institutions; established in 1999 by ourselves along with a small; number of other colleges.

IARC operates a relatively simple (minimal bureaucracy) system for formally recognising institutions.
To become and maintain IARC recognition, an institution must satisfy minimum standards in terms of their administration, course content, course delivery and student assessment.

Fees are very low, compared with other "recognition or quality control systems)
Affiliates are required to join IARC and maintain IARC recognition.
This requirement ensures that all affiliates are operating within comparable standards.


Our People

John L. Mason
- C.E.O.
Dip.Hort.Sc., Sup'n Cert., FCIH, FPLA, MAIH, MACHPER, MASA

Mr Mason has had over 45 years experience in the fields of Education, Horticulture, Recreation  and Journalism. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner.  John has held positions ranging from Director of Parks and Recreation (City of Essendon) to magazine editor.  John is also a board member of the Australian Garden Council and president of the International Accreditation and Recognition Council.

John is a well respected member of many professional associations, and author of over one hundred books and of over two thousand magazine articles. Even today, John continues to write books for various publishers including Simon and Shuster, and Landlinks Press (CSIRO Publishing).  In addition to being principal and CEO of ACS Distance Education and ACS Publishing; John is also Garden Editor of Home Grown (a quarterly green living magazine).

David Mason - I.T. and Business Development Manager 
David has over 25 years of experience in I.T. and management. He set up and developed a number of successful businesses including Mantis Technology, and along with his wife, Lime Tree Kids, which has grown to become a major online mail order enterprise.

Leonie Mason  - Administration Manager and Financial Officer
Leonie has managed the administration and finance for ACS since 1981; and has a wealth of experience and knowledge about how to efficiently and profitably operate a business in education and publishing.

Stephen Mason - EBook Manager
Cert.Graphic Des.
Stephen has 20 years of experience in the graphics industry. He has worked as a senior graphic artist in both national and international advertising companies; and for the past three years, overseen the production of ebooks within ACS.

Kate Gibson - Affiliations Manager (International)
B.Soc.Sc, Post-Grad. Dip. Org Behaviour (HR)
Kate has 12 years experience as a marketing advisor and manager, and experience as a project manager. She has also worked as a graphic designer, has experience in web design, and has worked in Human Resource Management also. Kate has traveled and worked in a variety of locations including: London, New Zealand, and Australia.

Tracey Jones - Affiliations Manager (U.K.)
B.Sc. (Hons) (Psychology), M.Soc.Sc (social work), Dip. SW (social work), PGCE (Education), PGD (Learning Disability Studies).

ACS employs over 40 staff in all including a large team of academics.

See a full list of current staff at



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