Academics on Exchange

Academic Differences

An exciting adventure of studying on exchange is experiencing a different way of studying and learning. The academic systems and traditions vary within the universities across the world. The difference in set ups between Victoria University of Wellington and your host university does not mean you should assume that academics are easier abroad.


At Victoria University of Wellington most courses have frequent assessment including assignments, exams, participation points, papers and an attendance policy. At many universities overseas, all or most of the grade is based on a final exam or a large essay. With little assessment, it can be challenging for a student to judge their grade and progress in a class.

Teaching Styles

In New Zealand and Australia, less time is spent in the classroom and there is more emphasis to study individually outside the classroom.

Overseas you will rarely find the same teaching style and our students find that there is less discussion in class. As an example, some universities might not have Blackboard or any learning platform and you may have to do your own research to find readings before an assessment. Also, some lecturers might not use power point presentations and students need to take notes in class in order to prepare for assignments.

Learning in a foreign language

Adding to those challenges is the fact that some of you will be taking courses in a foreign language. Although it can be difficult to follow lectures in the first few weeks, with time students pick up a language quite fast as they are immersed in a different culture and speaking that language every day.

These differences don't mean that the education you receive while you're abroad is better or worse than the education you get at your home university — it's just bound to be different. If you don't like your abroad classroom or learning style, chalk it up to a learning experience. Accept the challenge to learn in a different way, and in a different cultural environment.

Academic Support

It is your responsibility to keep up with the class work and meet with lecturers if you have any concerns or problems.

If you are facing difficulties in the new academic environment, we suggest that you let you lecturer as well as your exchange coordinator at the host university know and seek out services equivalent to Student Learning Support.

Managing these issues in advance will avoid future problems such as failing courses at the host university. One option might be to withdraw from a course before it is too late. Remember that your host university transcript is a valuable document when applying for jobs after returning to NZ and may be a prerequisite for further studies.

You will be paying 60 credit points per trimester while on exchange and you can cross credit up to 60 credit points per trimester from your exchange when you return. Your faculty will not convert grades to your transcript, just the points gained from having successfully completed courses overseas. If you fail a course, it won’t be cross- credited, but you will still have to pay 60 credit points per trimester on exchange.