How university differs from school

Sure, there’s no uniform and you won’t be attending as many classes, but there’s more to it than that. There are plenty of differences between school and university!

The size

If you think of your high school as a community, think of university as a city. At 115 hectares, the Bentley campus is the largest of the four public universities in Western Australia and is attended by more than 25,000 students – that’s nearly as many people as Bunbury!

Study what interests you

University education is the first step in taking control of your own learning. Unlike high school, where you study certain subjects because they’re compulsory, at uni you can choose a course that suits your interests and abilities.

Student responsibility

At high school, the teacher is responsible for the way you study a subject, whereas at university, you are responsible for identifying the best way to study and complete your assignments. A common saying is that lecturers are experts in their field who ‘teach their subject, not their students’.

Contact time

Contact time is the time you spend at uni attending lectures and tutorials (tutes). At high school, you spend about 30 hours a week at school, but you will generally have much less contact time at university. This doesn’t mean you spend less time on your studies at university – it just means you’re expected to do a greater portion of your work away from the classroom. This usually involves research, reading and completing assignments.


The rules at Curtin aren’t as strict as those at high school. For instance, there’s no particular dress code like there is at school and no-one’s going to call your parents if you miss a class. Obviously though, a high standard of behaviour is expected and no form of discrimination will be tolerated. At Curtin we encourage tolerance and acceptance of people of all walks of life, and as a result, you will find the Curtin community a welcoming place free of prejudice, where you can always feel comfortable.


Universities aren’t just about teaching and learning. One of the major functions of most universities is research. Because universities are attended by so many experts across a range of fields, they play an important role in supplying industry and government with innovative solutions to real problems. As an undergraduate student at Curtin, you may be able to participate in a research project under the guidance of one of your lecturers.

Have any questions about courses, admission criteria, bridging and enabling courses or anything else Curtin related? We can answer it.