The Cost of a Degree

Written by Cyndi O'Meara

Cyndi is about educating. Her greatest love is to teach, both in the public arena and within the large corporate food companies, to enable everyone to make better choices so they too can enjoy greater health throughout their lives. Considered one of the world's foremost experts in Nutrition, Cyndi brings over 40 years experience, research and knowledge.
Time To Read: 7 minutes

February 18, 2021

Recently I was talking to two young university graduates. Combined, these two students had a university debt of nearly half a million dollars.  

I was floored to say the least. They were both professionals capable of making good money and were working very hard with long hours to reduce the debt. 

Not everyone comes out with a university debt of that size, but talking to some nutrition students who have finished their degree at a university or private college, their debt is anywhere between $40,000 and $60,000 – up to $150,000 if they’ve changed degree or done a double degreeIf they decide to do a masters it may be another $20,000 or more in course fees. 

If they do not have a job after university, their debt increases with fees and interest; if they do have a job and are earning over a certain amount, then their debt is taken from their pay. It will eventually be paid off over the course of their working life, or quicker if they are so motivated.   

When this debt is presented to graduates, they usually have two trains of thought. Either they think it’s not a bother, they’ll eventually pay it off, it will just sit there anyway. Or, they worry about the debt and wonder if they are ever going to be able to save and do the things they want to, with so much owing. 

In my last blog I wrote about Alison (you can read it here). She felt that she needed a degree for people to take her seriously, so at 40 is clocking up a debt while looking after four children on her own while studying for that degree. And she is not promised a job at the end. 

When I finished my degree, I was not guaranteed a job, a position or a wage. I left university with whole lot of knowledge on nutrition and science but very little about what was I going to do with the information. Most of the information I learnt was contradictory to what I really believed. While I wouldn’t swap my university days for anything, I had the best time, skiing, hiking, partying, loving, learning and having fun.  

But if I knew what I know now, I can honestly say it was an indoctrination I was being fed about food and nutrition and not necessarily what made people healthy. 

Forty years on I’ve tried many different aspects of nutrition including private consulting, feeding my family the very best, writing for the paper ($40 an article), speaking to clubs about nutrition (free), writing a book or two, working in corporate, writing many articles, to now creating programs and education courses for people.   

The Nutrition Academy is not a degree, it’s not even an Australianaccredited course (I would have to teach you what they teach at university to be accredited – believe me I’ve been through the process). They want me to teach the dietary guidelines and I just won’t do that. 

But did you know that The Nutrition Academy is an approved training provider with IICT (International Institute of Complementary Therapists)? This means our graduates qualify for membership and insurance thorough one of the most comprehensive professional bodies for natural therapists in the world. 

All our graduates in Australia, NZ, USA, Europe and UK qualify for membership and insurance under the modality of Nutrition Consultant. 


 What Else Do We Offer? 

Our 12month course of fundamentals and applied nutrition has been put together by myself (with 40 years experience) and Dr Stephen Myers, a tenured professor at the University of Tasmania with three decades of experience. Stephen and I worked together for a year developing the modules that blend philosophy, historical perspective and science.  There is no dance between paleo, keto, vegan and carnivore, but rather knowledge to empower to make the right choices. 

What The Nutrition Academy offers firstly is the means to improve your own health and that of your family. You can also improve other people’s lives by helping your community, you become a critical thinker and food and nutrition myths are busted on subjects that include:  

  • salt and hypertension 
  • sugar and diabetes 
  • fats/cholesterol and heart disease 
  • meat and bowel cancer 
  • food ingredients 
  • synthetic biology 
  • genetically modified foods

and so much more.   

By the end of our 12month course you are armed with all the information that you will need to evoke change and also you will know how to find further credible information to help you on your quest to be someone who knows more about nutrition than most dietitians.  

In fact, two dietitians who have done my course have given rave reviews about it. One spoke at my Nutrition Summit praising the TNA’s course. The other, who has a PhD in Nutrition and Cancer Research felt it tied everything together for her and empowered her to change the course of her life. Both felt that the course showed them a philosophy that they were not taught at university.   

I’ve also spoken with many young students that have finished their nutrition degree with a debt and without any direction as to what job they can get. They have a love for nutrition but have been disillusioned by their education and don’t want to go on to become dietitians. Reflecting on her degree, one student sent me these dot points: 

  • University is not a cheap option. I gained a 30K+ debt from a 3andabityear degree. 
  • university nutrition degree is a minimum of 3 years. 
  • I felt as though I had to unlearn a lot of the nutrition components I learnt from university. The TNA course was a GREAT follow-on course from my university studies. I would HIGHLY recommend any nutrition student coming out of university to do this course! 
  • It’s a good idea to explore your options before just jumping into a university nutrition degree. Ask yourself what do I really want to do? What area do I want to focus on? Etc. You may find that you don’t even need to get a university degree to achieve the things you want to do within nutrition. PLUS you may not need to rack up a 30k+ debt.  
  • For people that don’t have much time, or funds, the TNA is a GREAT option to get started in the nutrition world.  
  • TNA can get you to more places than you may think! Consulting, for example.  
  • People tend to say ‘Oh, it’s okay, I will just put it on HEX and not really think about how much money it actually is, as they don’t need to pay the funds there and then. Trust me, when you finish, this HEX debt will bother you until its gone. As soon as you think you are making progress financially, you may still have that large debt from your HEX sitting around. 

While a degree for some people is a great way to go, it’s not the be-all and end-all, especially as the cost of university degrees sky-rockets. I called a major university the other day to find out about the price of their postgraduate 12-month course – $14,000. I also asked if it was based on the dietary guidelines to which they said ‘yes’. 

By the time you are finished with The Nutrition Academy, you will have paid your tuition fees in full while you study, or you can pay up front for further discounts. 

You will also be given numerous chances to engage with other students who have used the course to advance their careers. They share their loves, their wins, their learning experiences and how they have been able to effect change, not only their own family, but within their own community, whether that be their local community or online. 

I feel so proud of the men and women who have had to do what I did and work out what is the best thing for them after they finish their course. It may just be improving their own health or family’s health (I did that), or it could be like the many that create a diversity of businesses based on health and wellness, including workshops, home visits for pantry refresh, consulting to people and businesses, etc. 

The nutrition department at Deakin University says in their marketing material that by 2024 there will be 9,300 new jobs for nutrition professionals, 9,700 new jobs for education professionals, 14,000 new jobs for public relations professionals and 57,700 new education jobs for health and welfare support workers.  

Nutrition is becoming the forefront of health. If we are to tackle the chronic disease rates we see around the world we need to change the education around nutrition. No longer are the dietary guidelines appropriate, there is a new era dawning that shows the dietary guidelines have been, and continue to be, a disaster for human and planetary health.   

Australian of the Year 2020, Dr James Muecke, believes that if the dietary guidelines do not change, then neither will the failing health of people. It is not until we change these guidelines that doctors, dietitians, schools, hospitals and aged care begin to change.   

While Dr James Muecke is tackling the dietary guidelines at government level, I’m tackling them at a grassroots level. I want to educate individuals and empower them with knowledge so that they can make better choices for themselves and their family. 

 By doing The Nutrition Academy courses and education you will be ahead of the curve – you will be given evidencebased science on where nutrition and food must go for health. We do not get funding from anyone, no pharmaceutical companies, no food companies, no agricultural companies. The syllabus we teach has no bias because we have no sponsors. It takes 17 years approximately for the current science to start to be taught in the university system. How exciting that you don’t have to wait 17 years – you will get the latest research and understand how to critically assess what you are reading. 

As I learn, I teach, but it’s the philosophy and historical anthropological data  that does not change – that sets us apart from all nutrition courses in the world. This gives us a guide and helps us look critically at the research and decide whether it has bias or merit. 

Make 2021 your year to improve your knowledge, and thus your health (mentally and physically). Then watch the ripple affect every aspect of your life… 

Cyndi O’Meara

For more information on our courses, visit, call us on 07 5353 0196 or drop us a line at 


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