Home' The Good Universities Guide : The Good Universities Guide 2017 Contents 18 GOOD UNIVERSITIES GUIDE
far above a regular degree in these fields. They offer much the
same curriculum as the standard degree, along with a selection
of extra opportunities. Common benefits include time with an
academic or industry mentor, prestigious internships, additional
advanced classes and research projects.
Gain industry experience and connections
Practical experience is a big part of degrees these days, although
this is more common in some disciplines than others. It might be
called an internship, a cadetship, a clinical placement, work-
integrated learning or cooperative learning (co-op). These
programs use the institution’s partnerships with industry to give
students a period of real-world experience during their studies.
Internships are available in a number of disciplines, can be either
paid or unpaid and vary in length from a few weeks up to a year.
Some are compulsory components of the course, while others
are optional — set up by the student and completed in their own
time. Credit may be granted. Co-ops are specialised degrees that
incorporate industry placements, usually running over six months
or a year. Students are typically paid for their work and complete
assessed projects or activities that count towards their degree.
Co-op programs are most common in disciplines such as
engineering, information technology and finance, and competition
for places is fierce. Medicine, nursing and education students all
complete several assessed work placements (called ‘clinicals’ or
‘rounds’), but these are usually unpaid.
Fast-track your degree
Most universities use a semester system with two periods of
study, the first from around March to June and the second from
around July to November, followed by a long summer break.
Some courses offer students the option of a third study period
during summer. These three study periods are called trimesters.
By fitting an extra semester’s worth of material into each year,
students can graduate from a standard three-year degree in two
years. Even if your course is not available in trimester mode, a
‘summer semester’ might be an option for certain subjects.
Do a two-part degree
Some Australian universities have adopted a model that sees
students complete a general undergraduate degree in a discipline
such as arts, science, health science or design. Graduates who
want to qualify for regulated professions — such as architecture,
law, dentistry or medicine — then go on to a specialised
postgraduate program to gain industry accreditation. This model
is relatively new in Australia but is standard in the United States
and much of Europe.
More European institutions are moving towards this model as a
result of the Bologna Declaration, an agreement between 46
European countries to standardise higher education across
borders and improve mobility for researchers and students. For
this reason, these degrees are also known as Bologna-style
programs. So far, two Australian universities have introduced this
structure across their entire course menu (see the University of
Melbourne and University of Western Australia profiles), but
many institutions are starting to adopt this model in selected
fields, such as architecture and the health sciences. Graduate
entry bachelor degrees, which allow students who have already
attained an undergraduate degree to qualify more quickly for
professions such as medicine and law, are also becoming more
These courses might suit you if you are still exploring your
options or if you think your marks will fall short of the cut-offs
required for entry into the more specialised courses. Keep in mind
that you will probably need to maintain a good average mark to
get into the relevant graduate course at a later stage.
Add breadth to your degree
Many institutions have introduced breadth units to broaden
students’ experiences beyond their discipline. Some institutions
have introduced compulsory (or ‘core’) subjects that are
completed by graduates across all disciplines, generally covering
multidisciplinary topics such as globalisation, leadership or ethics.
Others require students to select a certain number of units (or
electives) from outside their course to make up their degree —
you might find an arts student studying mathematics, commerce
or even chemistry. Other institutions leave it up to the students,
allowing them to choose subjects from other disciplines at their
request — such as a communications student taking some law
Find some flexibility
It’s common for students to juggle study with competing interests,
such as work, family and social commitments. Many institutions
recognise this and offer a range of flexible study options to help
students fit undergraduate study into their lives.
Look out for some of the following opportunities:
part-time study (typically half a full-time load)
block study (completing your course in intensive ‘chunks’ over
a longer period of time)
online and distance subjects
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