Types of educational institutions
Australia has 43 universities spread across the entire country, and they aren’t centralised. That means they can be quite different from each other in lots of ways; they’re all run independently, and can decide on crucial details like their entry requirements, deadlines, and even course durations for themselves.
As a result, it’s important that students carry out thorough research, making notes on each individual university and course that they’re interested in (our university research worksheets can be helpful here!).
Although there’s a great deal of variety, Australian universities do broadly embrace the same approach to education.
Essentially, this approach is something of a middle-ground between the UK’s and the USA’s - two countries which are often considered opposing poles in terms of higher education. So what exactly does that mean in practice?
Australian degrees tend to allow for more specialisation than American ones, which take a very interdisciplinary and generalist approach, requiring students to undertake classes across a broad spectrum of subjects.
At the same time, in Australia students are generally afforded more flexibility than in the UK, and can choose a loose pathway or area rather than studying just one subject. In fact, students can usually study up to four subjects per semester.
For example, students at university in Australia might choose to apply either for a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, or Bachelor of Law. But those labels encompass a variety of classes, and students can even go beyond those and stray from their general area of interest. Even more concrete degrees, like a Bachelor of Computer Science, allow a good amount of flexibility.
Majors and Minors
Australian universities often embrace what is considered the typical American approach, whereby students have a Major - the area they’re focused on - for which they have to complete a minimum number of credits, and a Minor which will need fewer credits for completion. Both of these sit within the broader pathway or area students selected as their programme.
For example, a student at the University of Queensland might choose the loose pathway/area of a Bachelor of Mathematics. They might then decide they’d like to Major in Data Analytics and Operations Research, with a Minor in Bioinformatics.