Shaw Academy has hundreds of thousands of graduates, and plenty of skills that millions of people have learned.
They offer a variety of courses from digital marketing to photography (which had 1.5M+ graduates at the time of writing this), so clearly something has to be working, right?
Well, not so much.
The internet likes to vilify a lot of things. It’s kind of an internet user pastime, not that it should be. Shaw Academy had some issues in the past, but does that define them today?
We wanted to cover everything from their services to the allegations, and ask the hard question: is Shaw Academy still worth it?
What is Shaw Academy?
Shaw Academy is an online learning platform designed to help you develop skills in various job-related skills, creative talents, or useful technical skills that you can use to entirely switch careers.
The goal is to learn at your own pace, or to sign up and teach skills to employees if you work in an organization. Through mobile use, interactive courses, and resource delivery, they aim to provide a full all-in-one online education experience.
What Type of Courses Does Shaw Academy Offer?
Shaw Academy offers a blend of wildly attractive courses from photography, smartphone photography, video editing, video production, social media marketing, digital marketing, creative marketing, and the list goes on and on.
Some of these courses have over one-hundred thousand graduates, while others are in the five-figure range. That being said, these graduate numbers aren’t checked by any independent source, so we have to trust the (rather shady) ethics of Shaw Academy, or suspect that they’re inflating their numbers.
How Are the Courses Structured?
Very modularly. You have separate sections that describe different steps of skill development and learning, which get progressively more involved after the introductory period in the first few modules.
Shaw Academy gained its popularity because the certificates were recognized as legitimate, but the courses themselves aren’t anything to get hyped over. They’re good, but not unique or memorable. Shaw Academy’s success easily could have happened to a dozen other lookalike sites and services.
You can get certified, but with a place like Shaw Academy, the certification is supposed to mean something. Get a load of this that we found on their FAQ page.
“Are Shaw Academy Diplomas Recognised in the USA?
Shaw Academy courses are recognised globally in countries such as the USA, UK, Canada, South Africa, Australia and India. To find out more about accreditation see, Are the courses accredited?”
Does that smell like some BS to you, or is it just me? The wording there is so specific, and while it answers the question, anybody can recognize a physical diploma or copy of a certificate, but it’s the accreditation that matters.
In 2019, they lost their accreditation with Edinburgh Napier University, which was one of the major points of legitimacy. Now, they claim that in October of 2020, they have been accredited by the IAO, CPD, and ICSOC, which are legitimate enough, but the reason they lost their accreditation with ENU is still unconfirmed.
At any rate, this new triple certification comes after losing accreditation, and it appears as though the only reason they’ve gone this triple route is to solidify their place as legitimate online educators, though we’ve seen little to no transparency since the fraud allegations came to light.
You can get certified, and while it may mean something to a potential employer, many worthwhile career-oriented professions identify the allegations against Shaw Academy and may question the legitimacy of a diploma.
Shaw Academy Pricing
Pricing can fluctuate. Since their allegations, we’ve seen some membership costs go on sale, but it all depends on what you want to sign up for.
The main attractive point of Shaw Academy is the average cost of $49.99 for a monthly subscription (at the time of writing this, at least), which can often be lower than many other online learning platforms.
There are different course costs apart from your membership, though. You have to pay for the specific course you want, and if you’re still on your trial, it may actually activate a paid-for membership and charge you for the new course at the same time. This appears to be intentional based on what we’ve seen, and it’s a shady pricing tactic.
Customer support has only ramped up since the allegations against them.
Prior to this, copy-and-paste emails were sent to just about every student who had a valid complaint or refund request.
As of right now, it’s fair to say that the Shaw Academy response team is working overtime. They’ll reply to baseless emails with a personalized response as of right now, but we don’t imagine it will last for very long.
Contacting customer support is simple enough, and perhaps the timing of our review is simply lucky for them, but overall the contact experience was pleasant and well-received. We got a response in about two hours, give or take a few minutes.
Pros and Cons of Shaw Academy
As you might imagine, Shaw Academy isn’t exactly going to shine here.
They have a lot going against them, but in the spirit of being as transparent and objective as possible, we were able to drum up some positive points about them.
- Wide Range of Courses: You have access to so many course types to choose from, each of which have comprehensive coverage and plenty of modules to help you understand everything on the subject.
- Live Webinars: The live education on Shaw Academy is pretty fantastic. Not only do you actually feel like you’re a part of the class, but your questions get answered, which makes the process that much better.
- Solid Courses: The courses and educational content is actually really high-quality at Shaw Academy, but it’s hard to see through that with everything else we’ve talked about. If you somehow have a positive experience with them, it will be because their top-notch courses really shine.
- Customer Service: As of right now, you can get decent customer support… most of the time. However, they’re known for choppy customer support, and their current representatives even have a hard time finding information to answer your questions.
- Immediate Phone Calls: You have to provide a phone number during signup, and they will most likely call you right away (sometimes automated, sometimes not), which is just too forward and comes on strong.
- Unclear Pricing: Depending on what you want to achieve with Shaw Academy, your prices will be different. This all depends on skills you choose, and some add-ons can be as expensive as three months of your standard subscription.
- Not Transparent: They not only hide the pricing options and what you can expect to pay based on your preferred signup plan, but cancelling your subscription is a pain and a half. It’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination, which makes the whole process infuriating.
Allegations of Fraud
This is what everyone has been waiting for. Fraud, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is:
“An act of deceiving or misrepresenting,” or “One that is not what it seems or is represented to be.”
Based on what we do know about Shaw Academy, and going by the definition of fraud, the allegations absolutely hold weight. At the time of writing this, complaints of fraud are as fresh as three hours old.
Shaw Academy has been accused of, and have indirectly admitted to: overcharging customers for services they did not want, charging customers before their free trial periods were over, and simply charging people for services that they never even signed up for (add-ons; these people did have Shaw Academy accounts, just not with the specific add-on services).
Complaints are still rolling in. In June of 2020, a lot of this came to light. Many ex-students said that Shaw Academy only began replying to them after the June 13th article surfaced bringing the accusations into the media.
Since then, you can find plenty of issues that are still cropping up, and while Shaw Academy is attempting to remedy them on sites like the Better Business Bureau, the sheer volume of complaints is still staggering. We believe that the only reason their apology tour began in the first place is based on allegations and the potential blowback, but nothing to do with their own moral code.
You can even find a Change.org petition with over four thousand signatures, and a handful of first-hand accounts of accused fraud. Everywhere you look, Shaw Academy is being exposed.
Is the Content Still Worth the Risk?
If you’re testing the field to see what types of courses are out there for you, and $49.99 isn’t going to sink you, then you can justify taking the risk and testing things out. Shaw Academy still has a lot of positive reviews regarding their course structure, ease of use, and everything in between, and that can’t all be thrown out.
However, for the sake of safety, I would do the following.
1. Purchase a Visa or Mastercard gift card. Something that uses a 16-digit card number and 3-digit security number.
2. Only load the exact amount that you plan on spending for a one-month cost.
3. Set and forget—make this the only card you use for Shaw Academy.
Don’t use your actual bank card or credit card to access Shaw Academy. There are far too many allegations of unauthorized or premature charges.
The “So-Called” Free Trial
Even today, before all the allegations, Shaw Academy boasts the following: “Get 4 Weeks Free”—that’s on their homepage.
However, they must have a different understanding of the word free. There are countless complaints (and not just the ones filed with the BBB) stating that Shaw Academy charged people before they were supposed to, meaning within those four free weeks.
That’s deceptive marketing, to say the least. Furthermore, it appears as though everyone who made these claims had different amounts of time spent on Shaw Academy, so there’s no indication that this is an automated feature.
In theory, Shaw Academy may be prematurely charging people who show the highest possible chance of deciding to sign up with the service. Either way you look at it, it’s deceptive and predatory.
The trial is free, but not for four weeks. You could be charged twenty-four hours later, and nobody has any indication as to why. Even when you read Shaw Academy customer representative replies through online forums, they’re vague and don’t answer the question: why does this happen in the first place?
Shaw Academy: Worth Your Time?
Initially, when I was making this review, I wrote the following:
“I would say that Shaw Academy is worth it in 2021. Would I say the same for a few years ago?
Probably not. Shaw Academy has come a long way and done what they should have throughout all the allegations, and despite that bit of flak (which internet searches will always remind you of), they provide a good value.”
It should be noted that Trustpilot—a leading resource for the trustworthiness of websites, businesses, and apps—has recently accused Shaw Academy of intentionally leading customers to leave overwhelmingly positive reviews.
This is a practice that all major companies use; they tell customers to leave reviews for them, you even get a prompt on the receipt you get when you buy a cup of coffee. However, there’s a difference between asking someone to fill out a survey, and asking someone to strictly fill out an overwhelmingly positive survey.
Shaw Academy is accused, by the community, of specifically preying on non-English speaking students, and while we personally didn’t encounter that issue, there’s enough recent, ongoing information online to suggest that there may be some truth to that.
At EdWize, I only want to provide you with the best resources. I wrote this review specifically so you know the risks, but the final verdict is this: Shaw Academy is not worth your money in 2021. The educational content is good, but the company is horrible.