Battle of the Education Systems

USC Campus

I have from July 2011 to June 2012 studied at USC in Australia, and has during my stay, noticed certain differences in the education system from USC to Aarhus University in Denmark. In this article I will try and highlight some of the key differences between the two education systems.

  • Several Tests vs. One Exam

The system I experienced in Australia consisted in general of a mid-semester test, a possible presentation, a written report and a final examination. In Denmark a typical semester would consist of an end semester report and an oral examination.

The difference between the two systems is that the Australian keeps you focused and requires full attention from day one of the semester to achieve good grades overall, where the Danish system allows for the student to relax during the first half of the semester and still achieve good grades from hard work during the study break.

  • Written vs. Oral Examination

The Australian systems does as standard not allow for oral examinations, despite a possible presentation in the beginning of the semester. In Denmark the use of oral examination is a pride and allows for the student to express in words, his or her knowledge on the subject. Both methods have its advantages and it really comes down to personal preferences. One of the aspects of the written examination is the use of multiple choice tests, which on average gives the student a probability of 25% to hit the correct answer without knowing about the subject at all. However, the oral examination as well allows for students with good communication skills to shine, where more shy students will not do as well of, despite being more knowledgeable on the subject. However, as said, it is all about person preferences.

  • Structure vs. None

My experience at USC was very positive and in particular in consideration to the structure and order of each subject. Prior to each semester a course outline for each subject would be published, giving the student a clear overview of the semester’s challenges and lessons. These course outlines are followed very punctual and makes it easy for every student to schedule his or her studies for the semester. This is one of the aspects that the Danish education system could learn a lot from. Allow the students to schedule his or her semester by clearly stating every single lesson, test and deadline.

  • Independency vs. Supervision

USC is on a bachelor level, very much assisting the student in his or her studies, which seems a lot like a Danish high-school. Coming from a more independent system, as the Danish where the student is 100% responsible for his or hers own studies, it can seem a little too much like kindergarten. However, taking into consideration that it is common for Queenslanders to start university in the age of 17, it might be understandable. Aarhus University is on the other hand not offering much supervision what so ever and you as student are really relying on your own ability to read those books and keep your studies going. Finding a decent balance between independency and supervision might help more Danish students be more successful in their studies.

  • Forming vs. Accepting

One last dot point in favour of the Australian way comes down to the possibility of forming your studies as preferable. At USC I was met by the opportunity to choose between a large range of subjects offered by the different faculties.  Internationals as well as full degree students have the opportunity to form their own studies by selecting the subjects in the order they like to finish their degree. This freedom gives very unique qualities to every single student and encourages the student to work hard. Of course there is a range of subjects that are mandatory for the student to finish his or her degree, but the freedom allows for the student to do things in his or her phase. This kind of systems could be greatly adopted at Aarhus University and should be considered for the sake of educating Danish students of a challenging future.


So what is the conclusion of this little comparison of the two education systems?

The two systems deliver the same product, but do it in two unique ways. Both systems have its flaws and both systems can learn from one another. I have come to really admire the flexibility and possibilities of the Australian systems demonstrated at USC, which allowed me to do subjects that I wouldn’t usually have done. However, USC really needs to drop the multiple choice tests and allow for students to challenge the rules. In Denmark the realization that multiple choice tests just doesn’t allow for academic expression is just great.

However, Aarhus University should learn from USC and try to encourage its students to stay tuned from day one with the use of mid-semester tests or similar. Simply to keep the students in the fire and experience an overall learning process, instead of just end-semester exam reading. Furthermore, the structure and order experienced at USC are to be admired and really comes in handy for students when scheduling part-time work, travel, friends, party and of course school. I recall an American student telling me that college life in the USA is as much a personal experience as it is an academic journey. To be hones I believe the Americans are on to something here.

“University is as much about personal development, as it is about academic success.“ Keeping that in mind, why not try and design our educations systems around it.

Graduated Double Degree

Alexander Hold Graduation USC 2012

On June 29th 2012 I graduated from Aarhus University Herning as Bachelor of Business Administration. The week prior on June 22nd 2012 I graduated from University of the Sunshine Coast as Bachelor of Business.

I have earned the double degree for an excessive work effort and I have attended additional classes to receive sufficient ECTS points to finish the two degrees in the time frame of 3 years.

I spend the last year for completion of the double degree program at University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland Australia. This experience presented me with challenges of international scale, cooperating, living and studying in a multicultural society. I am glad and proud to have finished the program and would take any other opportunity presented to me, to go abroad again.


Airport - Sydney

(Sydney International) I am currently waiting for my flight that will take me across the ocean and all the way back to Europe. It has become time to depart and say goodbye to Australia and everything that it has offered me.

It is with sadness but also joy that I’m about to leave this amazing country. One year ago I jumped on an airplane heading east, without knowing a lot about what was to meet me in this country down under. Now a year later, I’m on my way back again. It is hard to put words on the feelings that I am feeling in this very moment, but I am sure that any person who have experienced to say goodbye knows exactly which feeling I am talking about.

I came to Australia with no expectations, and am leaving with none. Australia turned out to be an adventure of a life time, and I can only hope that my future journey will bring me as much happiness and joy as Australia did.

I would like to thank all the people that made this adventure a unique experience. Without you it would not have been the same. Remember: “It is not about the places you see, it is about who you see them with.“

I am sure that I will be back with deeper and better reflections on all the things that I have learned from Australia, but for now I will focus on the flight ahead of me. One more time, thank you everyone.

Ask the What if Question?

Sunshine Coast Innovation Centre

Innovation starts when people ask the What if Question? Today I attend a great lecture in connection with the 10 year anniversary for the Sunshine Coast Innovation Centre. The lecturer was Steve Huff, form managing director of Typefi, an automated publishing too used by companies such as Apple, Lonely Planet and Telstra.

Steve Huff was sharing his entrepreneurial experience, which he did really well. In 1999, just after the IT bobble busted, he founded Typefi, after asking the question; What if we could automate book publishing and save the publishers money by shortening the editing process from several days to today’s just 3 minutes. The entire lecture was framed by this question of: What if? Because as Steve said, that is the main question entrepreneurs ask themselves.

Steve shared a great story of an episode with an online conference call with Apple in Cupertino, where they experienced constant fall outs. The Apple employees became pretty frustrated about the situation and Steve Huff and his team had to admit that they did not have broadband.

Even though Steve’s story was pretty amazing, he underlined that being an entrepreneur is a hard job and he also had a few stories to about sleepless nights, extreme frustration and fear. But as he stated, if you are passionate about what you do, you don’t want to take a break from it.

Today Steve has asked himself the question: What if we could supply refugee camps in Africa with lightning and by that minimize the risk of assault and rape of women and children? With this question has Steve set out to create jobs in a whole new industry of lightning under the name of Doble.

The anniversary also gave the opportunity to say hello to Gideon Shalwick, an online video marketing entrepreneur specialized in turning online videos into cash. I had the pleasure of sitting in on a guest lecture held by Gideon just a week earlier on Campus. It was a great lecture, and I was happy to be presented with the opportunity to have a little chat about Gideon’s book publishing history.

All over a regular Thursday turned into an extraordinary Thursday. Now I am about to ask myself the What if Question? And so should you?

The World is Beautiful! (New Zealand Special)

New Zealand

What a statement: ”The world is beautiful!” and it sure is. I’m currently in Australia on my 8th month and must say I am enjoying it grand scale. Especially one part of my stay stands out in my memory, the magic of travelling. “To Travel is to Live” so did H.C. Andersen write, and I must have to agree with him. Therefore I would like to share the best of my latest travel experience.

New Zealand, the country of magical landscapes and sheep outnumbering the Kiwis by far. I went with great friends of mine, and we did what I would like to call a jet-set tour, with speeding across both islands in just two weeks. Not the way you are recommended to experience this fairy-tale land, but for sure a good tour anyway.

Dunedin and Otago Peninsula

Dunedin Otago
Dunedin Otago

Otago Peninsula is a wonderful stretch of land giving access to Albatross Point, where if you are luck you can get to see an albatross up close. However, this is not it. The winding roads taking you from Dunedin to Albatross point is a race drivers dream. Combine this with a stunning nature, and beautiful bays, and you got half a day of fun.

Milford Sound

Milford Sounds Lord of the Ring
Milford Sounds Lord of the Ring

“Like sailing in a painting.” Milford sound is one of these places that you for all the best in the world should not miss. We went kayaking and got up close to seals, waterfalls, and mystery bobbles appearing on the surface of the water. Milford sound is one of these places where you can fully allow yourself to quietly take in the breath-taking natural beauty.


Queenstown Bungy Jump
Queenstown Bungy Jump

The adventure capital of the world, where you can bungy jump, skydive, paraglide, climb mountains or some of the other adventurous activities, for not mentioning skiing during the winter season. Queenstown got everything you desire, even a good night life, if wanted. Queenstown is not just a place for the adventurous, but surrounded by absolute stunning mountains and the impressive Lake Wakatipu.

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier

Have you ever climbed a glacier? I have. The Fox Glacier is just a must do, and even though you wonder what is so special about walking on a massive chunk of ice, it is just such a unique experience. We spend a full day climbing the glacier and we got to experience an ice cave. I recommend everyone passing by Fox Glacier to experiences this unique piece of nature, and I must say I was impressed by professionalism of the guiding team. They did a good job.

Ferry from Picton to Wellington

Wellington Burger
Wellington Burger

What an amazing ferry ride out of Queen Charlotte Sound. The ferry ride alone is worth all the money. Extremely beautiful! Wellington might be New Zealand’s only larger city with a bit of soul. We spend a day in the city enjoying the atmosphere of a creatively designed seafront, the Museum of New Zealand: Te Papa Tongarewa, which was really nice. Wellington was also the city where I had the best Burger I have ever tasted. “Like heaven on a plate.” Did I remember the bar that served it, I would have mentioned it, but sadly I don’t.

Rotorua and Waimangu

Rotorua Volcanic
Rotorua Volcanic

Rotorua is the place of thermal activity, where mud pools is part of the regular walk in the park. When we were there we headed out for Waimangu Volcanic Valley, which is a place of significant geothermal activity. We had a great one hour walk, and saw beautiful lakes such as Frying Pan Lake, Inferno Crater Lake and Lake Rotomahana. This was my first time ever walking on a volcano and the whole experience of gasses and bobbles pumping out of the mountains were just wicked.


Auckland New Zealand
Auckland New Zealand

They like to call themselves a miniature of Sydney, but sadly they are just not. Auckland is sadly a big city with a great need of a unique soul. Oh yes, there is beautiful places to go, eat and hang out. However there just isn’t anything unique where you think WOW, I am in Auckland.  One of my favourite places was the harbour, especially because Auckland is a great place for sail sport.

All over I had an amazing experience in New Zealand and one lesson that I took with me and that applies to all my travels.

“It is not the places you see, it is who you see them with!”