While studying abroad in the United States last year, one question people asked me much more than I expected was “Is it true that Australian students don’t go to classes?”. I was asked a lot of unusual questions, but this really surprised me. Where did these students get this crazy idea? Well ok, maybe it’s not entirely crazy, as I guess there is some truth behind it. But today I want to dissolve this rumour once and for all, so you aren’t so shocked when you arrive in Australia. So my answer to the question is “yes and no, but be careful!”.
In Australia, every class, every course and every institution is different. They all have their own rules and own expectations from their students. While some teachers are fine with you doing the work from home, at your own pace, many more teachers expect full attendance through the semester. Australian institutions put a lot of trust in their students. They trust that, if you do have to miss a class, you will do the work at home and catch up. We are old enough now to take control of our learning! However, it is common for teachers to take attendance at the start of each class. If you miss a certain number of classes through the semester, they can reduce your overall grade.
For example, English courses (ELICOS) are attendance based, and you must attend at least 80% of your classes, whereas many vocational courses only assess your academic performance, meaning your grades are assignment-based.
The best way to know for sure (don’t always trust what other people recommend) is to ask your teacher in person! Often the teacher or tutor will explain what he or she expects of you, at the beginning of the semester. But if not, just speak up. You would rather know for sure than risk a lower grade.
Yes, your lecturer may often post the lecture notes online, or even an audio and video recording of the lecture, so they can be accessed online. However, there is nothing quite like sitting in a lecture hall, hearing the information first hand! You will take in much more information, you will truly get what you pay for and, most importantly, your teacher will be impressed by your constant attendance.
So when you are in Australia, go to classes, because we all do too! You have nothing to lose (except maybe a little, unnecessary hour of extra sleep).
If you have any questions about this, or about any aspect of studying in Australia, please don’t hesitate to ask! Feel free to ask questions below in the comment section, or email us directly a firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to help!
Words by Carla Brugliera