Hijack The Streets: What's the difference between unis here and overseas?

October 07, 2015
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No matter where in the world you go you’ll find different versions of the similar thing. Bread never tastes the same in the US as it does here in Oz, and the milk in China tastes a little off compared to what you can get in the UK.

And these differences certainly extend to universities. Across the world, uni students celebrate, socialise and study in very different ways. Hijacked spoke to students from Australia and abroad to compare local and international unis.   

Nicola Nilsen, 22, Bachelor of Education, University of South Australia. Studied at the Concordia University in Montreal.

The main difference is in the value in which each country places on university education. The general culture of Australian universities is … rather “chilled out”. Students seem more focussed on the experience of uni rather than furthering their education. In Canada, students display a much better work ethic. Canadian students need to work harder to produce results their parents can be proud of because of the huge sacrifices that have been made to send their child to university. The expectations of Canadian classes were much greater than Australian classes, with assessments occurring weekly, rather than three times a semester. Students took their studies far more seriously because their final grades had a huge impact on their careers.

Marni Shankman, 21, Honours of Communication Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada. Studying at Western Sydney University.

The biggest difference between Australian uni and Canadian uni would be the structure. There is way less class time here than in Canada. Back home, we would have five classes twice a week, and each class is either two or three hours. Here, I only need to take four courses, and each class takes up less time than the ones at home.

Canadian universities are huge on school spirit and rivalries between universities. School sports are really important, and at every sports game, students are encouraged to come in school colours and cheer for the team. When your school plays a rival school, everybody comes out with face paint and signs, and you pretty much trash talk the other school.

Monica Sauia, 23, Bachelor of Communications, Western Sydney University. Studied at the University of New Mexico.

One of the main differences I experienced whilst on student exchange at the University of New Mexico was [the] enormous sense of school spirit. Students loved the university they attended. Every event held, whether it was a sporting event or a fundraising event for one of the many student clubs, [was] a massive rally. The support from students was endless. Back in Western Sydney University, social student clubs are not very popular and there really isn’t much school spirit.

Another difference I noticed while in the States is [that] the elective units offered included recreational classes such as yoga, swimming, drawing and language classes that can be credited towards your degree.  As far as I know, electives offered in Australia are not as practically versatile as they are in the States. Both countries set a very unique experience and are just as enjoyable as each other.

Imogen Leaning, 19, Bachelor of Natural Science, University of Nottingham, UK. Studying at the University of Newcastle.

Uni in Australia and the UK is pretty much the same: lectures, assignments, exams - they torture us in much the same way. However, each country has its own differences that set it apart. To start with, the whole uni process in Australia is flexible. In the UK, people tend to start uni and finish uni, [whereas] in Australia people seem freer to change what they study. This makes it easier for people to study what they want to study, as it is harder to “get stuck” in a degree. I would also go with the cliché that Australian uni is more laidback. Lecturers genuinely seem to be chilled, and at Newcastle shoes seem to be optional.

Katelyn Ennis, 21, Bachelor of Communications, Western Sydney University. Studying at University of California, Long Beach.

I’ve been lucky enough to be accepted to study in the US for a semester, and although I have only been here for a month studying - not being biased - but I definitely prefer studying in Australia. [In the US], the schooling system is laid out very differently. In my opinion, I feel like I'm back at high school, having to call the teacher "professor" instead of their first name. [I’m] being put in a classroom for four hours over the week for one subject and being given weekly "quizzes" or "tasks" instead of independent assessments. Although, in saying this, the social life definitely makes up for it. There are so many clubs and activities offered on campus, including educational and leisure activities.

Keegan Thomson

Keegan is studying journalism at the University of Western Sydney. He's an avid storyteller and global traveller whose likes include fresh bed sheets and Jeff Goldblum movies.