How Australian Universities differ to those in Brazil

| October 7, 2013

International students have many things they need to adapt to when studying in Australia. Denise Frizzo, Brazilian PhD candidate at Swinburne University, shares how the Australian system has a different sense of responsibility placed on students.

Studying in Australia is one of the main reasons – if not the main – that attract Brazilians to live here. A few things make a big difference in their decision: students are allowed to work, the weather is pretty similar to our own, which make the adaptation easier, and international students are always welcome in Australia.

Most students come to study English, some go further and decide to go to university. Here lies the challenge. While English classes follow similar methods we have in Brazil, apart from the native accent, the classes at universities are widely different. After almost two years living in Australia I have been told so many stories about the difficulty Brazilians have in understanding and adapting to the method of teaching in Australia.

In my view, the differences are based on both the cultural and intellectual structure of the places and its people. I have heard the Australian methodology of teaching in universities is also different to other countries which makes me think other foreign students also find universities unfamiliar when they attend their first classes.

I went to university in both countries and understand the methodology of teaching in Australia is a self-learning system where the students are given topics to study by themselves and then discuss the content in class. Students are supposed to be aware of what the lecturer will explain, be ready to ask questions and do assignments based on authors and books suggested by lectures. Normally lecturers explain the content through Power Point presentations and then there are tutorials where students have time to do exercises related to the subject monitored by a tutor who usually is a postgraduate student.

In Brazil students are taught and learn during classes at university. The professor responsible for a subject is both lecturer and tutor. The topics are presented to students in class, where they develop the understanding together with colleagues and professor. Most universities encourage professors to suggest practical exercises in class to simulate situations that students will face in their professional life. At the end, a student’s knowledge is tested through assignments and exams – just like in Australia.

I think in Australia there is a difference sense of responsibility that students face. While in Brazil the onus of responsibility to find the tools to learn is placed on the professor and in Australia students are under pressure to find the tools themselves. This may be the main reason why Brazilian students take a while to get used to the method applied in universities here. Surely Australian students would find difficulties to adapt in Brazilian universities as well and what is interesting is that both methods work perfectly in the respective countries.

My suggestion for Brazilians and other foreign students who are finding it hard to study at universities in Australia is to read the course plan carefully, make sure you have access to all materials indicated in there, study it before enrolling in the university and ask questions. Do not be afraid to ask questions in class – it is part of academic life and the best understanding always comes from an answer to a relevant question. This adaptation is just one more barrier to be overcome in a journey of an immigrant studying abroad.



  1. rltuition

    September 20, 2016 at 6:32 am

    Education in Australia

    Australia is one of the best education provider country in the world. Students from entire world comes to study there. However other countries are also providing good education.