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Education Abroad Network
Education Abroad Network
Education Abroad Network
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Academic Differences when Studying Abroad

Australia and New Zealand Academic Difference

Many students find the Australian and New Zealand way of teaching to be quite different from the instruction they receive at their home universities. With more emphasis on independent learning and critical thought and less on assessment and classroom time, students will encounter a unique academic experience.

Course Structure

Most courses are structured with a number of larger lectures and small group learning or tutorials. Students will be expected to actively engage in the tutorial sessions and are usually required to present and lead the conversation of at least one session. There is an emphasis on research and critical analysis, with students being expected to present new ideas rather than repeat those of others.

Streamlined Majors

The normal length of an undergraduate program is three years, with most of this involving coursework in the major. As students are working toward a professional qualification in most undergraduate degrees, there is little room for general education courses or electives. As a result many upper-level second- and third-year subjects will require more pre-requisites. Our experienced advisors will ensure you enroll in the correct courses for the stage of your degree.


In the US, college students are accustomed to a combination of frequent assessment such as attendance and participation points, quizzes, tests, assignments, and papers to total their final grade for a class. In Australia and New Zealand, students have fewer assignments, but these assignments are worth a higher percentage of the total grade. For example, some courses have a final exam at the end of term that contributes to 50-100% of the student’s grade.


Both Australia and New Zealand are popular destinations for many students from all over the world. The universities have been particularly active in recruiting full-time degree-seeking students from the South Pacific and Southeast Asian areas. At some universities the percentage of international students is as high as 30% of the student body. This means you have the advantage of attending a very international campus with an opportunity to meet students from all over the world, not just your host country.

China Academic Differences

Students participating in one of our China programs will find that the Chinese education system pays attention to the accumulation of knowledge with less emphasis on daily/weekly assignments and quite a great deal of importance placed on final examinations. Entry into Chinese universities is based on high school exams which are quite grueling and determine which "level" university the student can be admitted to. In the university system, electives are not as common as in the U.S. Also, many schools tend to emphasize science, business, and technology courses over liberal arts units.

With a rich history of respect for teachings, such as Confucious, students in China do not often question a professor's teachings. Unlike in the U.S. where critical thinking and participation is encouraged, Chinese classrooms are very lecture-based. Students have been taught since a young age to respect the knowledge and authority of their teacher.

Thailand Academic Differences

Students studying in Thailand will find familiar US academic standards of grading, assessment and quality control. Most students attending the South East Asian Institute of Global Studies in Chiang Mai are from US institutions and the US grading scale is used to ease the transfer of credit. The majority of academic professors hold terminal degrees and use standard course assessments such as research papers, mid-terms, and final exams.

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