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.

Conclusion

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.

University of the Sunshine Coast

University of the Sunshine Coast

University of the Sunshine Coast – 2011 to 2012

I have for a period of 12 months been doing my Double Degree for Aarhus University and University of the Sunshine Coast.

I have lived in Australia for one year, in an international community of international students from all over the world. This experience has taught me a great deal about accepting people’s differences and I have grown friends from nations spread widely all over the world.

Courses I have taken at University of the Sunshine Coast:

1.    Semester: Cross Cultural Management, Introduction to Informatics, International Trade and Finance in a Global Economy, Corporate Governance and Social Responsibility.

2.    Semester: Business Law and Ethics, Consumer Behaviour, Principles of International Business, Principles of Property Valuation.

Why you don’t just Hire based on Paper

Lecture Theatre

This article evolves out of a university community, where students sit in large auditoriums and listen to professors or other forms of lecturers. The main goal for students to attend these lectures is to be enlightened and inspired on a particular subject of their own interest.

However, even though it is the intention to inspire and enlighten the student, it is sadly not always the case. This is usually due to the lack of rhetorical skills of the professor. This does not mean that the lecturer does not know what he or she is talking about, but often the exact opposite, that the lecturer is extremely well informed about the specific subject. However being well informed and holding several PHD’s in a current subject does not equal excellent rhetorical skills.

A theory of Why

Why are these lecturers hired? This is mainly a theory and not a fact. But if you observe how universities take pride in expressing the titles of the professors they employ, you get the feeling that titles and accomplishment such as PHD’s and advanced education counts for more than actual real life skills and experience. These titles and impressive CV’s are highly valued in the world of Universities and are easier to show off online for the support of academics around the world.

The Consequence

It has consequences only to hire based on paper and sadly many of the consequences are to be considered negative. As already stated an impressive CV is not equal great rhetorical skills. A professor’s lack of rhetorical skills will usually result in boredom among the students, which leads to lack of interest. Lack of interest often leads to demotivation, which result in laziness and drop outs. When the exams approach, the students will perform badly and this will give the school a bad reputation. So what ended up being a strategy from the university management to attract the greatest academics, experiences a negative circular effect.

How to solve the Problem

The problem is rooted in how universities perceive themselves. Universities need to change their perspective on their product, from being the salesman of a 50cent sheet of paper to an institution for inspiration and motivation. Instead of putting emphasis on a professor’s academic accomplishments, a university should focus on the professor’s ability to inspire and motivate the students to learn and acquire knowledge on their own. In the end, a University is a self-learning institution and students are expected to study and discover knowledge outside the lecture theaters. Educating professors’ rhetorical skills are not an offense, but a necessity and should strongly be considered by the university management.

As a concluding statement: This example considers the institution of a university, but the same applies in private businesses. Rarely do papers and academic scores tell very much about the person possessing them and should therefore never be relied on exclusively.

Safely Arrived Down Under

Ethiad Airways in Abu Dhabi International

After 32 hours on the go and several delays and a lot of running, I have finally arrived at the Sunshine Coast of Australia. It is a little ironic that the place is called the Sunshine Coast as it is raining pretty extreme in this very moment. However I have been check-in to my apartment where I will spend the next year of my life. I will be attending the University of the Sunshine Coast, where I will be following courses in International Business. I am still fighting the jetlag, but hope to be on Australian time tomorrow morning, where there will be another rainy day waiting.

Being traveling for 32 hours is not really confortable, no matter how great the seat and service is. However I must say that I felt fairly treated flying Etihad operating together with Virgin Australia and nothing was needed on the trip, even though I managed to be late on three out of four flights, which got me in quite a rush in both Frankfurt and Sydney Airport. Only in Abu Dhabi did I have plenty of time, even though I would have wished to be in a rush particular here. The temperature in Abu Dhabi was 42°C. However the terminal was approximately 10-15°C. due to air-conditioning. Not being used to air-conditioning made this a very unpleasant experience.

Rush in Sydney

When I landed in Sydney I was 45 minutes behind schedule and walking through costumes took another hour leaving me with 1 hour for getting from terminal 1 to terminal 2, check-in, walking through security, and boarding my flight. I was told it was impossible in terminal 1, and the first 45 minutes also went with getting to terminal 2, leaving me with 15 minutes to make the flight. I jumped the line in check-in and the nice Lady at the counter re-opened for baggage drop. I jumped the line at security and was pulled aside for an additional drug test, which I passed and then had 2 minutes left to reach the gate. Gladly I made the flight and all I coursed was a 20 minutes delay at the final destination.

I had the most amazing flight up the east coast of Australia with a great view of Sydney, the Goal Coast, Moreton Island, Brisbane, and Mooloolaba beach. The air was extremely clear and I could see all the way to the Mountains in the hinterland. I knew that I had reached paradise and now I look forward to experience it up close.

This is the first blog post in a new series of my experiences in Australia. I do not know yet what it is going to be like, but one thing is clear. I will do my best to document the differences discovered 12000 km away from Denmark.