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.

Challenge yourself mentally!


It has for the past few years become very popular to go to the gym and work out. The purpose has been to get in good shape and get a well-trimmed body. The trend can only be described as healthy, as a good health is good for your future living.

However as many focus on their look, they more or less miss out on their mental capacity.

If you go to the gym and work out regularly, you will experience that your ability to work out for longer hours increase, simply because you spend more and more time in the fitness center. The same counts for your mental capacity.

Therefore is it important to exercise your brain as you exercise your body. The approach is rather simple as the exercises in the gym. The answer is to challenge yourself mentally. Institutions like schools and universities try in an organized way to create these challenges, but in the end they cannot force you to take the challenge. Only you are the master of your own mental exercising, as only you decide if you want to spend time in the gym or not.

You don’t necessarily need to be in school to be challenged, because the challenges are all in your head and you carry them around with you all the time. The worst thing you can do is to put your head to sleep and not to take the mental challenges that you are presented for during the day. When you are presented with a problem, force yourself to find a solution instead of just accepting that there is a problem and then let it go.

Think of your brain as a body part that needs to be trained equally to biceps and other mussel parts.

Get out there and challenge yourself mentally.

E-MAX Nordic 2009

Emax Nordic 2010

I applied for E-max Nordic 2009, and was among the 50 Danes selected for the program. E-max is a Scandinavian entrepreneurial event, where the foremost young entrepreneurs from the Nordic region gathers over one week.

During the week all participants were competing in a business simulation game, in groups of four people consisting of persons respectively from Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark. There were held a lot of seminars and workshops for all the contestants, which were designed to inspire and teach entrepreneurial skills. An important part of the event was social activities that through games created a strong group mentality. The event provided me with a large Scandinavian network of intelligent and motivated youngsters.

Danish participants of Emax Nordic 2009
Danish participants of Emax Nordic 2009