Is learning at the SAE Institute worthwhile?

I’m big on education. The more you know the better your music will sound, the more jobs you will get, the more money you will be paid and the more fun you will have. Last week I was talking to a friend of mine in Spain and he was telling me about his experience at the SAE Insitute over there. First off, he told me he paid about 9000€. Immediately I let out a big gulp. Teachers should be paid yes. Equipment is expensive yes… but still. I give him “props” as he’s not a native Spanish speaker and all his classes are in Spanish. Because of this however his grades are low. This doesn’t reflect on his music or drive because his tracks are well produced and he’s involved with some decent commercial work already. However, he complains that he can never get studio time at the school except for early in the morning around 8:00AM. He also mentioned that he has several rotating substitute teachers, none of which he has confidence in. He doesn’t like that they gave him the cheapest Mac laptop (the white one). I guess he should have known which computer he was going to get before entering into the program.

I know this post could be seen as a little controversial but I got the notion it was a good topic because over at the Sound on Sound Magazine forums a new bloak asks what people think about SAE almost daily. Almost daily the reviews are mainly negative. Here’s an example: click here

“i’d do a cost analysis: student loans versus potential income. hmmmmmmm, let’s see… potential income = zero” – Sqye, Gearslutz Forum Member

So are any of you currently enrolled at SAE? What do you think? Any allumni want to chime? Is it worth it? I think a lot of people coming into the music business want to know.

Some forum threads on the subject at Gearslutz: click here and another one.


  1. SAE San Francisco August 19, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Has anyone attended SAE SF? I am enrolled and want to know how their audio engineering program is. Please leave a review of your experience?


  2. HI, I would like to know how is the photography course of SAE institute in Dubai. I am looking to do a short term course.


  3. SAE (Melbourne campus) is extremely unprofessional on so many levels.
    I’m not sure where to start, I’ll start by saying if people are wondering if this course is worth it, (and not just Film Production but I also know people who have done the Audio Course here too,)
    It isn’t worth it, whether you have HECS fees or not, this course is a waste of money, your classes will involve sitting in a classroom for 3 hours with a teacher that will not teach you things but instead talk about your homework for the entire time without teaching you anything, just telling you what you have to do for each assignment. Some of the lecturers are the office ladies, they are very young and VERY unprofessional, they dont know what they are doing most of the time and they giggle and mess around and let students yell out and interrupt them and they encourage it! If you’re over 18 years old you will find this extremely annoying!!
    A few times the classes have involved the teachers getting the students to log onto their facebook infront of the class and write a status on facebook (I kid you not!!) and see who comments on it from part of there friends list. This was some stupid way of them trying to make a point of who tries to get involved in your life! Please keep in mind these are classes are 3,000 dollars a year each! and only once a week. all this money to listen to unprofessional teachers act like teenagers and not teach you a single useful thing. Another time we have had to make a house out of tooth picks! Yes we are asked to do these things in class for both Film and friends have done it in Audio as well. We are paying alot for this school and i can honestly say I have been to every class this Trimester, with an open mind and have not learned anything worth while for film! You are honestly going to get more out of sitting at home on google.
    The Counselor at this school is a young girl probably about 27-30 who is meant to help you out with things such as stress with homework, life at home ect. Well EVERYTHING I have heard about her is that she is extremely hard to talk to, and very immature and doesn’t help out at all! I don’t know how she has this job.

    The lady on the front desk name is Nikki, she stuffed up my partners enrolment about 3 times by ‘losing’ paper work and then forgetting to call him back when he got accepted into the course, he had to call the school the day before school started and lucky he did because she answered the phone and told him “oh you got in!” and told him she had misplaced he’s paperwork and he had to fill things out again.
    To some people this may sound REALLY unprofessional, almost like its made up, but its not and people at this school just get used to this kind of thing happening on a regular basis. That is what this school is like! (or campus, i’m not sure what the other campuses are like)
    We have seen her sitting at the front desk giggling at her computer on a number of occasions and heard the instant message noise you get from facebook when someone talks to you, back and forth. She is also extremely rude and never smiles at students even when you smile at her first.

    There is a person at this school who is disabled and has told me once that she has been at this school for almost two years and is still repeating trimester 1! (A TRIMESTER IS USUALLY COMPLETED IN 3 MONTHS!) This is a clear example of them taking money off people, letting someone with an extreme disability come to this school and not be able to pass 1 trimester, she also told me they haven’t done anything to help her!!
    All this school cares about is taking money off people.


  4. There is a 50 year old student at SAE melbourne who stinks out the entire common room, one time she got up from a couch in the student lounge and the seat was soaked. me and my friends assumed (or hoped) that she had spilt her drink or something and just left it there. but the other night me and some other students saw her running out of a classroom holding the back of her pants peeing herself, yes peeing herself all over the corridor carpet. The worst part is this lady has been at SAE for 2 years, so i dont believe we are the first people to complain to the staff about the smell and the pee she leaves everywhere, and they don’t even clean it? So disgusting.


  5. Our main lecturer at the campus in Oxford is a very well rounded audio type. He knows his circuits, theory and practical applications very, very well. He is not stumped by more advanced questions and will go an extra step to help you understand a concept.
    The supervisors are all active in the industry. Two of them own a studio together and the third works in film. I guess that having to work half-time as a supervisor says something about the general state of the industry but that’s another topic. They do their job well and also know their stuff.

    A lot of people will usually say “use that 18k to make your own studio” etc.
    These people are really misunderstanding one major thing: the SAE doesn’t educate you for the music business, they educate you for the audio business. Lot’s of people are not interested in working in studios. Film and more recently video games are a larger industry than music. Much, much larger in fact, so that both industries make many times over what the music industry does.
    Others are more interested in doing live sound.

    Of course, if you have the connections, you can intern in some great studios or places and get massive hands-on experience. However, 99.9% of the population does not have a relative in the audio business and most studios only give away internships very rarily and even then, mostly to people they know and their relatives OR people from a trusted education facility. It’s up to the specific owner of the business to determine if he trusts the SAE or similar.

    I know people who never did a thing with their education from the SAE and others who now work in the industry. Some at the BBC, some in live venues, a few that went for their own studios…
    It’s definitely not a fool proof decision to go an SAE. If you are already short on cash, I might recommend a different path.


  6. i am but probably not for much longer! basically there is very little extra help for there for people that need the extra help, nobody that works there can tell their arse from their elbow and the classes and information progress at such a fast speed that it is no wonder that i have been left behind and failed my sound theory because i have absolutely no idea what the shit the lecturer was talking about when we were preparing for it. also it seems to be a very arrogant place and the quieter students among campus life get forgotten about. all of this lovely experience sets you back the princely sum of 9000 pounds and id rather go and busk outside aldi’s with a kalimba, a kick drum and a badly behaved capuchin monkey than continue to study here. its killing my buzz for making music but i won’t let it bury the buzz because i love it.


  7. Omg they’re still in business?
    SAE Chennai is a scam.
    I can’t believe Ratish Babu is not in jail yet by now.


    1. Do they even have a website for SAE chennai? what is the course fees? and how is course bro?


  8. I had a similar experience with the SAE institute in Capetown, South Africa. And surprisingly enough it doesn’t seem that there is a international headquarter of SAE that is giving an opportunity to address criticism. The institute loves to put itself on such a outstanding level of professionalism, but the delivrance is so so poor. Let me tell you: It’s not worth it. Neither for the contacts (most of the teachers are not experienced in the practical field themselves and the other students are often just spoiled or childish kids that think beeing a filmmaker sounds just so cool..) nor for what you learn. some teachers use youtube to teach – so rather youtube yourself or pay a person that is known in the field for some extra private lessons: you will learn way more. even equipement wise it will be difficult to profit: if people looking after the equipement are not skilled you will not even get a tripod that is working…


    1. We take the content of your post seriously (SAE capetown, posted 25 February 2015 at 11:322) and would like to connect with you for an open conversation, to allow the campus an opportunity to address your current dissatisfaction. This conversation would be in the spirit of ensuring we can deliver the experience you were seeking when you enrolled with us in Cape Town. We pride ourselves in superb delivery to our students so your comments come as a shock to us and we would like to address them.

      This conversation would of course be without any risk for you, and is an open and warm invitation. Please feel free to contact me


  9. Hi can anyone give his or her experience in SAE institute South Africa of the Film production course


    1. Don’t go mate they just want your money! im not joking.


  10. hey,

    been to SAE London and Sae Amsterdam, i can tell you that it is not a good choice for film, just go to a regular University even if it has been listed as not the best uni it will still be better than SAE.
    Half the time teachers change lesson times which makes it hard to plan around SAE, the equipment is poor and the teachers are unprepared to teach (excluding using youtube videos).
    I have had a hard time trying to get my degree there and have not even finished yet, hope too but the future is uncertain with SAE.

    Stay away from SAE INSTITUTE!!!!


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