HSG-Student Sonam über seine Erfahrungen an der UTS
Why (not) Sydney?
There are plenty of reasons why you should choose to do your exchange semester in Sydney. However, there may also be some reasons for you not to do your exchange semester in Sydney and therefore, we would like to point out some points to you. First of all, be aware that you will be surrounded by quite a few other students from HSG and that it won’t be a cheap1 semester. If this is not a bummer to you or you can cope with that, we can assure you that you will have a great time in Sydney and in particular at UTS.
The university might not have the same level that you are used to in St. Gallen (how many Universities have though?) but this doesn’t mean that you won’t learn anything. In general, you will have to work more during the semester due to
many decentral assignments but will be rewarded with a very short examination period and hopefully good grades that are realistic if you don’t underestimate the assignments. In this regard, we recommend making use of the large amount of HSG students to team up with them for group assignments as they usually proof more ambitious. Furthermore, the semester starts very early (you will have around two weeks of vacation after your exams in St. Gallen) which allows you plenty of time to travel and explore Australia and its neighboring countries after the semester as it ends in the beginning of November already. UTS in particular is a modern and well-ranked University in Australia (#1 young University in Australia) conveniently located in the middle of the city (5min walk to the central station) and next to Chinatown where you can save some pennies on meals.
In case that nightlife is the second most important criterion to you for choosing your exchange university we are sorry to disappoint you! Even though you will find a place to go out to for basically every evening be aware of the lockout laws2 that may be quite annoying. Other than that, we can highly recommend Sydney for all of its sightseeing, coastal walks, nice (rooftop-) bars, overall good weather and friendly people. And last but not least, if the amount of HSG students really bothers you, consider going to Sydney during their autumn session.
In general, subjects demanded more work during the semester compared to what we were used to in St. Gallen but required less work in the examination period at the end of the semester which only lasts two to three weeks compared to four weeks and more in St. Gallen. Classes are divided into tutorials and lectures which, depending on the course, can be mandatory. Overall, we found the courses to be better manageable than to what we were used to in St. Gallen and good grades can realistically be achieved with enough preparation (there is no such thing as free good grades). During our semester at UTS we took the following subjects:
21602 Strategy: Theory and Practice (7.5 ECTS, Core Studies, credited as Strategic Management)
This course consisted of lectures and mandatory tutorials which were both rather unnecessary, however, the teacher always took attendance and complained if students didn’t show up. The course consisted of an individual report (50%), a video presentation (20%) and a group report (30%). The group was assigned by the teacher and therefore, you could end up doing the work on your own depending on your group members (always try to do group assignments with HSG students). This was probably the most demanding subject during the semester but didn’t consist of a final exam. Grading was not very transparent, however, most HSG students did very well as we probably have higher standards in academic writing. We would recommend this subject, however, we heard that the course will be discontinued.
21654 Socio-Political Context of Management (7.5 ECTS, Contextual Studies)
The course was divided into weekly interesting lectures and non-interesting tutorials (with compulsory attendance). The assignments consisted of three parts. Firstly, an individual report (35%) had to be handed in at the end of the semester. We all had to choose a company and to conduct a PESTLE analysis. Secondly, a small group assignment (25%) had to be done for five times from which the best three are graded. This task was rather exhausting as you needed to prepare your statements weekly. Therefore, make sure that you have a good group. Thirdly, the final exam (40%) consisted of 40 multiple choice questions. This exam was the easiest assignment. We highly recommend this course as the lectures are interesting, the marking is very fair and therefore, a good grade is achievable.
23568 Intermediate Macroeconomics (7.5 ECTS, Core Studies, credited as Macroeconomics II)
Consisting of important tutorials and time-killing lectures (confusing, unorganized, hard to follow) this course was surely the overall most demanding subject at UTS in terms of workload and understanding. The assignments were structured into four online quizzes (totaling to 40%) and a final exam (60%) all consisting of multiple choice, open questions and drawing of graphs. To do well in this subject much more preparation was needed compared to others subjects at UTS. However, with enough preparation and understanding good grades can realistically be achieved and hence, we would recommend taking the subject.
25300 Fundamentals of Business Finance (7.5 ECTS, Core Studies, credited as Finance)
This well-structured course consists of rather interactive (and maybe even fun) tutorials and rather unnecessary lectures that can be skipped without bad conscience as they can be easily caught up individually. The teachers are all very competent and the relevant content was explained very well. The assignments were structured into two online quizzes (10% each), a group assignment (20%) and a final exam (60%). This course is easy to study for as it is very straightforward and good grades can be achieved with little effort. We highly recommend taking this course.
26134 Business Statistics (7.5 ECTS, Core Studies, credited as Research Methods)
Similar to Finance, the course consists of rather interactive tutorials and rather unnecessary lectures. The mostly easy-to-understand and logical course structure doesn’t demand a high level of math and has a very manageable workload. The assignments were structured into a mid-term exam (30%), a group assignment (20%) and a final exam (50%). Both written exams were very doable as they were open book exams and unlike St. Gallen enough time is provided to actually look things up in doubt. The group assignment is not to be underestimated but again, a good grade can be achieved with enough commitment. Therefore, we highly recommend the course.
Good to know: As one can see in the following table, no grade 5 is awarded when transferring the grades from UTS to HSG. Therefore, we highly recommend taking the subjects serious enough to make sure you don’t fall below a 75% score which would equal a drop from 5.5 to 4.5 (don’t worry, you will still have plenty of time to enjoy yourself in Sydney!).
Table 1: Grading conversion UTS–HSG
In case you decide to conduct your exchange semester at UTS in Sydney, we highly recommend starting early enough as eventually preferred time slots for classes might be full otherwise (online course selection with first-come-first-served principle, there is no bidding at UTS). Furthermore, we recommend applying with the agency StudySmart as we made better experiences with that one than with College Contact. Your GPA will most likely be irrelevant for your application, however a grade transcript must be turned in. In regard to English requirements, an internet-based TOEFL score of 79-93 overall3 is enough but a score of 75% or higher in your English mark in high school will also do the job (you will just need to translate your high school certificate to English). When applying through an agency, checklists with all the necessary application steps including topics on visa requirements and health insurance will be provided and they will be happy to help in case you have specific questions. Nonetheless, bear in mind that all these necessary documents and processes may take some time to gather/go through and therefore, we recommend planning ahead.
Please find below a listing with important and useful websites that will help you with your application. These include the websites for your student visa (subclass 500) and health insurance (e.g. OSHC Medibank) which is mandatory even though you are covered back home.
Most of the HSG students including ourselves lived in one of the UTS Housing student accommodations. In particular, we lived in Yura Mudang which is perfectly located near the central station, in the middle of the campus, close to the supermarket and gym whom UTS Housing residents have complimentary access to. The UTS Housing student accommodation is great to get to meet lots of new people in a very short time (many social events in Yura Mudang) and due to its location is definitely recommendable. However, the student accommodation is very expensive and you will have to pay the rent for the whole semester even though you leave in November/December already. If you still like to live in a student accommodation but Yura Mudang is too expensive you might consider one of the other residences4 or no student accommodation at all. In that case we recommend looking for flats on the internet platform Flatmates as there are many housing possibilities available. Also, there has always been a rather large UTS (exchange student) community living in Bondi (public transportation from Bondi to UTS takes around 40–60min).
Settle down in Sydney
Once you are in Sydney you will be happy to settle in as quickly as possible. This includes topics such as bank account, SIM card, public transportation etc. First of all, beware that it is winter once you arrive in Sydney. Winter in Sydney is not quite comparable to Switzerland but maybe to Spain (e.g. Barcelona) and thus, a (light) jacket/coat should be in your luggage as it may get cold during the night. Secondly, keep in mind that Sydney’s price level is only slightly cheaper than in Switzerland so you might consider taking that well-paid part-time job in Switzerland rather than spending your time working in Sydney or just missing out. Also, alcohol is very expensive so do make use of the duty free before leaving the airport.
If the complimentary UTS Housing shuttle at the airport is not available, go buy your opal card which you will need anyways for public transportation in Sydney (top-ups can also be conveniently done via smartphone app). In terms of SIM card we both bought an Amaysim SIM card which was rather cheap, can be cancelled every month and works fine in the cities. However, while travelling the connectivity might be bad and therefore, do check out other options too. Furthermore, we recommend getting an Australian bank account at no cost (e.g. Commonwealth Bank student account). By using Transferwise you will have low transaction fees and good conversion rates to top-up your Australian bank account. Otherwise, you might just consider using Revolut while abroad/travelling. And last but not least, do not forget to activate your Medibank Health Insurance once in Sydney.
What to do in Sydney and surroundings?
During your time in Sydney, there are plenty of things to do and we highly recommend using the time you have in Down Under to explore. In Sydney, we recommend going to a concert (or several) in the Opera House, go to Surf Camp, have a swim in the North Sydney Olympic Pool, show your creative side at the Paint & Sip5 event or enjoy yourself in one of the free museums in Sydney. Furthermore, we highly recommend travelling around and visiting Melbourne (and the Great Ocean Road), travel to Tasmania (phenomenal landscapes), to the East Coast (Byron Bay, Noosa, Fraser Island, Whitsundays and Cairns surroundings shouldn’t be missed) or to Uluru. And if you want a more exotic travel experience, you should definitely check out Vanuatu instead of going to Fiji!
All in all, we can highly recommend an exchange semester in Sydney. We hope that this experience reports helps you in your decision and also in the planning of your exchange. In case you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of us via email or Facebook. And last but not least, for a guide to Sydney (night)life click here.
1 Allow for around CHF 12’000.– for tuition fees (HSG & UTS), accommodation (e.g. UTS Housing), application fees (e.g. visa, UTS Housing) and health insurance. This amount excludes money for food, excursions, travelling, flights, etc.