Differences Between School and Uni

If you're starting uni straight after finishing high school, it can be a bit tricky to get your head around how differently some things work at Western Sydney University (compared to your school).

The biggest difference between high school and university is that you're treated as an adult. That means you get to take greater control of how you spend your time and what you study. It also means that your education is your responsibility, no one is going to do it for you.

We know there's a lot to get your head around, so we've put together a list of some the basic differences to help get you started.

High school

Attendance is compulsory and if you miss roll call, you need a note from your parents (or guardian). During school hours, students are expected to stay on school grounds.

Your timetable is fixed and your hours strict.

The assignment types received in high school are limited and designed for straightforward assessment.

Class sizes are limited and afford you more personal time with your teacher.

Teachers organise students work and how they should prioritise their study time.

You express your problem with your teacher, who will report it to the principal.

There are often free school counsellors in schools who specialise in providing support and support documents.

Your parents or guardians play an important role in your schooling life. They are in regular contact with your teachers to help guide you in the right direction.

Teachers check your completed homework, remind you of your incomplete work, provide you with information you may have missed and remind you of assignments and due dates.


Most of the time, attendance is not taken in lectures, but it is usually compulsory to attend tutorials. Attendance and active participation in these activities is a strong predictor of student success. Students are free to come and go from campus at any time.

You arrange your timetable yourself in accordance with your chosen subjects.

Types of assessments vary and are designed to encourage critical thinking and independent learning. Most study work takes place outside class.

Classes, particularly lectures, can be quite large, especially in your first year. You may need to organise to speak with your lecturer outside of class.

Preparing for your class is your responsibility. This includes managing and prioritising your work and getting things done on time. Lecturers and tutors will not prompt you.

Try to resolve the issue with your lecturer, Director of Academic Program or Academic Course Advisor. If that doesn't work, you should contact the Complaints Resolution Unit.

Students have access to a range of free and confidential services including counselling, welfare, disability, academic support and legal services. It is the student's responsibility to seek out these services.

University staff, both administrative and teaching, can't talk to your parents (or anyone else) about you or disclose your information, unless you have signed the appropriate consent form.

Lecturers are usually open and helpful, but do not check required reading or remind you to complete homework. You are chiefly responsible for being on top of your uni work.

The College

The College at Western Sydney University provides students with a pathway into The University. They are committed to providing greater equity and access in tertiary education.


TAFE has an extensive range of programs and subject areas that provide practical skills and vocational training for a considerable variety of careers.

VET is education and training that provides skills and knowledge for the workforce, enhances employability and assists learning throughout life. The VET sector is positioned between secondary schools and universities and prepares students for employment or further study. This sector consists of public institutes of TAFE and private colleges specialising in one or more areas of study related to future work.

Differences between lectures and tutorials


A lecture is normally held in a large room or lecture theatre with many students and one lecturer. Students are expected to take relevant notes during the lecture. Lectures generally take place before tutorials.


Tutorials are small groups of about 25 students and are about one or two hours in duration. They provide a forum to discuss and debate the lecture materials and have an emphasis on student-teacher interaction and class participation.