Our breakdown of the Australian Higher Education System for international students including QUALIFICATION, INSTITUTIONS, STRUCTURE and ACADEMIC CULTURE.
Between application forms, sorting out your visa and dreading the epic flight across
the world, getting organised to study abroad in Australia can be exhausting. Not to
mention your apprehension at what kind of academic world awaits you once off the
Australia’s higher education sector is comprised of both technical colleges and
universities, offering technical, undergraduate (opens in a new window) and
postgraduate (opens in a new window) qualifications. Institutions must be registered
with a government body to offer places to international students. Thinking of
studying abroad in Australia, but don’t know where to start? Let our breakdown of
the Australian higher education system help make things more clear.
As well as offering undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications, there are a
number of institutions offering programmes in vocational education. These
institutions are called ‘colleges’ or TAFE: Technical and Further Education, and
have different entry requirements to universities. Programmes on offer are typically
employment-based or can act as a lead-in to a tertiary degree. Students should
pursue individual entry requirements on institution websites.
Bachelor degrees in more focused study areas may sometimes take longer to
complete, and have different options for majoring and minoring. Most
universities have online handbooks that students are advised to consult for
specific course advice and information.
Master’s degrees (opens in a new window), either by coursework or research are
one-two years in length.
An Australian bachelor degree (opens in a new window) is typically a three-year
study in a general area, within which students choose a specific area to focus
on. This specific area is called their ‘major,’ and students will be required to
complete a quota of subjects within it in order to be awarded the qualification.
Students may also complete a set, lesser quota of subjects in another area to
receive a ‘minor’ title, often taking the place of other electives students may
choose. An example of a general degree would be a Bachelor of Arts (BA), in
which a student could major in an arts discipline such as Psychology (opens in a
new window), and minor in another such as linguistics. Some universities offer
students the option to minor or take ‘breadth’ subjects from other faculties,
information on which is course-specific and should be pursued directly with the
Double Degrees and Concurrent Programmes
Many universities also offer double degree programmes, in which students are
able to undertake units from two different degrees at a time. As a result,
double degrees are much longer than a standard undergraduate study.
Concurrent study programmes such as diplomas and certificates are also offered
by some institutions, and provide students the chance to supplement their main
studies with a study in another area. Students must meet credit requirements for
both qualifications and so must spread their coursework over a longer period of
Students are expected to have researched the course requirements for both
programmes, and take initiative in selecting courses with the relevant credit
levels to meet both sets of requirements.
Australian universities expect students to take initiative and are focused on
independent learning. Attending lectures is never mandatory and even tutorials
can sometimes be optional: however, it is within your interest to go, and
lecturers will expect you to be mature enough to make that decision for
yourself. In lab-based and practical units however attendance requirement are
much more stringent.
If you don’t hand in work on time, you’re penalised up to 10% of the grade you
otherwise would have got per day. After a set cut-off point, you will
automatically fail the unit. Tutors will not chase you up for missing work, but
will sometimes give you the option to re-submit the work on a pass-fail basis.
Coursework in arts disciplines is generally research based, and assessment will
usually centre on a few, long-form pieces of work as opposed to intermittent
quizzes and testing.
Plagiarism is considered a serious academic offence whose consequences can range
from failing an assessment to expulsion from university. Students are strongly
urged to familiarise themselves with faculty-specific referencing procedures
before submitting coursework.
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