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.

Rain Water Management

USC Campus

Just as I was walking on the University of the Sunshine Coast campus today I noticed a little feature for Rain Water Management from the roof of the the Sunshine Coast Innovation Centre. The Sunshine Coast is subject to severe weather systems and a lot of rain during the summer (Rain Season).

What I want you to notice is the use of chains to lead the water from the roof to the sewer. The roof of the building is fairly large, and the amount of rain would be extremely significant in case of a rain storm. This will create a massive pressure on the gutter and without the chains the water would be as a waterfall from the roof.

A great little design feature of Tropical Australian architecture.

Rain Water Management
Rain Water Management

Latest new from Australia!

Australia Spring Break Night Shot

Time is flying by and remembering for how long I have been in Australia has become a challenge. However it must have been a while, since roommates and friends are preparing to head home. The last assignments of the semester have been done, and it has become time to study for the exams, which will be on during November.

Even though work at University has taken a lot of time for the past months, there has also been time to explore this large amazing county.

I was so privileged to be able to hit the road for 10 days with three friends of mine. Our goal was the Whitsundays. A group of paradise islands located approximately 1000 km north of the Sunshine Coast, however the trip ended up being so much more than paradise.

 Hervey Bay, Australia
Hervey Bay, Australia

Paradise might be wonderful however sometimes paradise can be just around the corner. On our way up the coast we stopped in Hervey Bay where we fooled around on the beach, got to do night shots and walked a freaking long bridge before we headed further up the coast for Agnes Waters, Town of 1770, where explorer James Cook first time sat foot on Australian soil. On the way to Agnes Water we experienced the production of Bundaberg Rum and enjoyed body-boarding at some nice coast town on the road. Overall a wonderful spontaneous day!

Surfing Australia
Surfing Australia

Agnes Waters were the place I had my first experience on a surfboard and I loved it. We spend 4 hours in the water and I managed to stand a few times. Gladly I have over half a year to learn it. I must take the chance to put in a warm recommendation for our Hostle in Agnes Waters by the name: `Cool Bananas´. My friends and I had an absolutely great stay. Considering it being a Hostle, I have never felt more welcome as I did at Cool Bananas.

Capicorn Cave
Capicorn Cave

From Agnes Waters we headed to Airlie Beach where we would board our cruise of the Whitsundays. However, we managed to fit our lunch break to be by the Capricorn Caves where we experienced an underground church located in the cave system. Quite impressive and a nice experience.  Australia is a great country for road trips and the entire experience of hitting the road and stopping wherever there is something interesting to see is what makes it so great.

White Heaven Beach
White Heaven Beach

From Airlie Beach we sailed the Whitsundays for 3 days and we experience White Heaven Beach, some of the finest sand in the world, we went snorkelling by the corral reef and saw hundreds of fish in all colours, forms and shapes. Not to forget the rich experience of whales and dolphins in the waters. It was an absolutely amazing experience and the entire experience of the Whitsunday islands are just magnificent.

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale

Hitting the road and drive the same way back could have been a long boring drive, however when you spend time with interesting people you are never bored.

On our way back we slept at the beach a nice place called Carmilla Beach, where we did a bonfire, slept under the stares, and watched the sunrise of the bay. It was a new experience to me, but I must say, besides literally smelling like smoked salmon, it was a very good experience. We headed to Emu Park where we got our-self a lovely shower and a good dinner. There is highly nothing to see in Emu Park, however the road there was a sight in itself.

Crocodile Farm
Crocodile Farm

Our last and final adventure of the trip was a visit to a crocodile farm. Crocodiles must be categorised as scary animal and seeing them up close in full size was a thrilling experience. We got to hold small crocodiles and I learned a thing that I for sure never would have figured out on my own. The biggest is not the most dangerous, because there is no one threatening it. The smaller ones though have a lot of attitude and are always in for a good fight.

Overall the road trip was an amazing experience and what started out being all about reaching paradise, ended up being about so much more. One thing is clear, it is not the things you see and do, it is about the people you do it with. I were so lucky to be with a group a people that ended up complementing each other very well, with a little craziness, a little seriousness and in general a great harmony.