ISOIS ▸ Final reports

Host country:
Host institution:
Mobility type:
Program:
Faculty:
Ac. year:
Semesters:
Study level:
Language filled in:

Deakin University

Australia 2019/2020 Partner universities

Personal data
Mobility type:
study

Faculty at MU:
Faculty of Informatics

Field of study:
Applied Informatics / Service Science, Management and Engineering

Level of study during period of placement:
Master

Language used:
English

Summer/winter school?:
no

Period of studies:
autumn 2019

Period of placement (from-to):
2019-07-01 - 2019-10-31

Number of months:
4.00

Activities before my departure abroad
Where can information be found about courses taught at the foreign school?:
Deakin has a fairly decent way to search through available courses at https://www.deakin.edu.au/current-students-courses/unit-search.php?hidType=max&year=2020 & a list of all available courses at https://www.deakin.edu.au/current-students-courses/allcourses.php?hidType=max&year=2020

Although nowhere near close to what we have at MU, it's fairly easy to look through available courses & get a broad idea of what the courses are about.

Which documents were needed for acceptance at the foreign university?:
I was required to either have a valid IELTS/TOEFL certificate with a high enough grade or to pass Deakin's DUELI test of English proficiency. After receiving login credentials for Deakin's study abroad system, I was required to sign several documents & questionnaires, including housing preference.

How far ahead did you have to organise your acceptance?:
I believe I started filling out the necessary paperwork at the end of January. I've received the necessary paperwork for visa (& confirmation of enrolment) sometime in early April.

Did you need a visa?:
yes

Documents and materials needed for a visa:
I needed an offer letter from Deakin, a Certificate of Enrolment & a valid Overseas Health Cover (OSHC) policy. This meant that I had to already have my health insurance paid for before applying for a visa.

Length of wait for visa:
Under an hour. Student visas are usually resolved almost instantly in case everything is in order.

Fee for the visa:
I believe I paid A$580 just for the visa. This is excluding the OSHC fee that was A$298.
The class 500 student visa currently costs A$620 (at least).

Studies
Did you have a Learning Agreement signed before your departure?:
yes

If not, why not?:

Before your departure did you know how your courses would be recognised by your home faculty?:
Yes, I've only signed up for courses of type C, meaning that I was only going to get the credits recognized.

During your stay did you change your Learning Agreement?:
Yes, I've changed my courses several times and changed my LA (finally) once.

When and how did course registration take place? Are there any restrictions? Possibilities of making changes?:
The initial course registration had me writing an e-mail to Deakin with the courses I picked for the semester. They replied whether these courses were fine, or not. I was restricted to only get into courses without prerequisites, but I was not limited to only courses belonging to their IT faculty. Before the start of the semester, I had to confirm my chosen courses in their IS.

I was allowed to make changes several times without any bigger issues. They have an initial two-week period for course changes, similar to MU.

Did you take any examinations at the foreign school?:
I did not take any exams. My courses were all finished by either delivering a large project or several smaller projects.

Does the school use the ECTS system?:
no

If not then explain how the credits there were recalculated into ECTS:
Deakin gives 1 credit for every single course. This translates to 7.5 ECTS.

Describe the teaching methods (theory, practical and projects) and assessment of students:
I was quite disappointed with the teaching methods at Deakin. I've changed courses several times because of the teachers. My biggest gripe was probably that most teachers did not speak, nor understand proper English. This could have been specific to the subjects taught by the IT faculty, but most of my teachers were did not understand the students' questions, had major grammar mistakes in the slides and were not even clear on the requirements to finish their own courses. In the end, I've cycled through (I think) 8 courses until I found some that either had a teacher with a clear understanding of what they're doing or had a clear and well-structured syllabus that did not require me to talk to the teachers at all.

Another gripe I had was that each of my courses used a different variation of Deakin's IS to provide all necessary materials, assignments, etc. Although all variants were decent, having to switch contexts so much was fairly annoying.

Quality of teaching in comparison with home school:
MU's teaching quality is definitely much better, at least in my experience. I felt like most people who teach at the subjects I had experience with were either unhappy with their job or just did not care enough to know the answers to even the most basic questions. I've only had one course where I felt the teacher achieved the quality of teaching MU (or at least FI) has.

How did you receive study materials?:
100% of the materials were distributed electronically, with a large and well-supplied library if the student required anything extra.

Can you recommend an interesting course/subject/teacher?:
I've had good experience with ACG706 - Designing for Web Environments. The teacher (Mifrah Ahmad) was well informed, able to answer any questions, and guided us through the projects really well.

How well is the school library equipped?:
The school library is terrific. There are tons of different seating options, each with a power plug and relative privacy. It's a very comfortable environment to study in. Overall, the campus is beautiful and well-equipped.

Availability of computers, internet access, level of software needed, requirements on notebook:
There were many free computers available in the library, and several other buildings. The Internet was available everywhere through the Eduroam network.

Options from printing and copying:
Printing was available in the library for a small fee (easily chargeable to the student ID).

Does the foreign school/student organisation arrange special events for exchange students?:
yes

If yes then what?:
There's a student society for the exchange students. It started off quite well, but I felt that there could have been more events with better experiences. Although I understand that most of the events were done by unpaid volunteer students, in the end, some of the events did not feel very thought through (and were quite expensive).

How would you assess your integration with the local students (evaluation like in school from 1 to 5 with 1 as highest):
3

or describe in your own words:
Concerning the Aussies, they do mostly keep to their own (at least at the on-campus accommodation). Any other nationality that studied full-time was keen on talking though. Most of the friends I made were not Australian by nationality.

Practical questions on your placement
Where did you live?:
On-campus accommodation.
Please, live anywhere else, it's definitely not worth the money and you will be happier almost anywhere else. Here's a copy-paste of my review of res for Deakin.

Overall, my experience with the res has been very poor. For almost double the money as I would pay for a shared flat in the city centre, the experience is awfully mediocre. This ranges through almost everything; but first, let's start with the okay. The kitchen is fairly spacious and pretty good to cook at. The bathrooms are fairly tidy. The living room is pretty comfortable to chill at & looks good. The quiet hours are reasonable.
Concerning everything else though, I have a lot of issues. The rooms are tiny & claustrophobic, having a closet almost 2/3 the size of the room is pretty ridiculous. There's also a lot of space wasted in the corner where the bed meets the table. There could at least be a small drawer unit. The heaters are malfunctioning constantly, which has gotten me sick more than once already, not to mention the ridiculous amount of noise they do. They seem to either not work at all, or turn my room into Venus heat-wise & a harsh noise night club noise-wise (this breaking point seems to be at give or take 2.2). I feel very ripped off buying the linen pack, which contained a terrible quality quilt & bad pillows. I had to buy new linen (which cost only about 1/3rd of the price but was much better quality). The television is difficult to use with the wall-mounted remote. The fire alarms' sensitivity is terrible. Having to go outside almost daily because there's a "fire" in a building that is not even actually connected through any inside passage that could catch fire to mine makes no sense. Having to key myself into my room (and almost every other door) every time is irritating and has caused me to lock myself out several times already. I feel more as in a sterile hotel than at a welcoming flat. Every single door is hard to open, does not stay open by itself and is very bad at noise cancelling. The cleaning team is not very attentive either. The kitchen is usually not cleaned well enough, and the floors are not vacuumed properly. Not to even mention that any space that is not easily accessible is not touched at all, and there is leftover trash almost every time. The bathrooms' toilet paper quality is terrible. The showerhead is hard to position and angle, and there is not any proper space to put your shower gels at. There are also shower mats missing. Luckily, my roommates are willing to share most cooking amenities, I cannot fathom having to buy everything from scratch. Concerning the common areas, they are very sterile, unwelcoming & badly heated. The public kitchens are not equipped at all. The laundry room has several broken laundry machines, with no marking on them that they are broken. The ping pong & pool tables in MC are decrepit. The "playground", if it could even be called that, is a joke. A single basketball hoop that isn't even properly mounted & attached to the ground, without a net. I can't imagine it's that hard to build a multi-function playground (check decathlon, they could probably hook you up) for any sport with the kind of money you're asking the residents to pay for this accommodation. Having a single smoking area that isn't even under a roof (and being told off by a security guard when hiding under the closest roof) is also very unfriendly. I feel bothered by having every single security guard asking me questions & asking for my ID after sunset. I've even had an experience where I was walking home with a friend, and I've been asked for an ID but she hasn't. The security guard was overall much more unfriendly towards me than towards her. I'm definitely not feeling unsafe here, but I'm not feeling welcome either.
The social events here are lacklustre & scarce. The residents typically keep to themselves and stay in their rooms, which just adds to the feeling of a rental hotel. I can't say that the res feels even close to a community. To add on this, the amenities around the accommodation are terrible (which is not DRS's fault, but has to be mentioned too to get the full picture). A "quick" shopping trip has never taken me under 2 hours, and there are no pubs or bars nearby.
Not to mention the early moving out process. Although it is fairly complicated by itself with finding the replacement and all that, it's fairly understandable. But as an exchange student, the rules that apply to me make moving out nigh impossible. It is fairly absurd that I (instead of the res) would have to find another exchange student (instead of anyone) to move in here instead of me.
Overall, I would not recommend staying here to anyone. I can't speak for staying at the village, although from what I've seen, it seems better at some (but definitely not most) of the issues I've mentioned above.

Cost of accommodation - monthly:
800 EUR

Additional comments to the price of accommodation (as to what the price includes):
See above. Res is unbelievably overpriced! For the price they ask, you could live in the city centre in your own room, with a beautiful view, free sauna, pool and a gym, and without the security guards everywhere.

Describe the equipment. Tips for future students – what should they bring with them?:
If for some reason you choose to stay at res, your flatmates might share the cooking equipment. I was fairly lucky at this, but I've heard several experiences where nobody shared anything.
Buy your own beddings, don't buy the overpriced ones they offer you!

How and how far ahead should accommodation be organised?:
I've had to get into the res at the end of April I believe. If you look for accommodation by yourself, it's completely fine to live in an Airbnb at first, while you're looking (get in touch with other internationals and find something together). Neighbourhoods I'd recommend to live at are CBD, Docklands, Southbank, Richmond, South Yarra, St Kilda, Carlton, North Melbourne. There might be other nice ones, surrounding these. Check https://flatmates.com.au/ and gumtree to find flatmates. You could even stay at an Airbnb for the whole time if you find a nice one. They might give you a decent discount (I've had a mate that lived this way for the trimester).

What are the catering options?:
On the campus residence, the catering options are very poor. The options are basically riding a tram for 4-5 stops to the mall (all in all one-way trip is 30 minutes at least), walking ±20 minutes to Domino's, or ordering Uber Eats. There's a school cantina open in working hours, but after trying all cantinas available, I can say that the food is both mediocre and overpriced compared to any other restaurant slightly further away.

What are the rough costs of groceries (compare with Czech prices):
About 30-50% more expensive. The quality is comparably better though, it is quite difficult to buy low-quality groceries. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

Transport to location of placement:
I've lived right on campus, so about 10 minutes of walking.

Rough prices for transportation:
Single trip ticket (any amount of transfers) with discounted Myki card comes out to about A$2.20. There's an option for a monthly subscription too, but it only starts making sense if you make more than 8-10 trips per week (which I did not).

Tips for purchasing cheap tickets and other recommendations:
Get a discounted Myki as soon as possible. You'll save ~50% on all public transport in Victoria.
Also, if you're living on campus, get a car as soon as possible. The comfort & possibilities to travel around this opens up are well worth the price (which is at least 50% less than what you'd pay in Europe).

What are the local transport options (public transport, cycling, on foot, rough prices):
Victoria's public transport is rumoured to be one of the best outsides of Europe. If you're used to Brno's public transport, you'll be fairly disappointed. For such a gigantic city though, it's very decent. There are trams, bus lines and train lines that connect most major neighbourhoods. All of these use the pricing mentioned above. A bike might be a good option if you're staying for T1 (it'll be much warmer). It takes about 1h to get from campus to the city centre using public transport.

What kind of formalities have to be arranged before arrival, for example residence permit?:
I had to pay for the Deakin residence quite early in advance, I believe I paid my first month sometime in April.

What health insurance did you use? (rough price, advantages, disadvantages, is it necessary to arrange insurance at the university other than your home (Czech) insurance?):
There are several companies that provide state-mandated health insurance (OSHC) that you need to have for the visa. Deakin themselves suggest BUPA and help you with the process. You basically only send them money and they send you back a print-out insurance card. It came out to A$298.
There's not really any difference between the companies which provide the insurance. The price might differ by a few dollars, but the result is very similar.

Did you have any experience with medical treatment abroad?:
Yes, I've been to a doctor's office for a routine check-up, blood tests & vaccinations. All in all the experience was very good and professional. BUPA paid me back most of my expenses. The system in Australia is that you pay for your treatment right away and then apply for a refund at BUPA's website.
I've had several mates that had to go to the ER, and they have had very similar experiences to mine.

Did you work during your studies?:
No, I wanted to get into working as a bartender for a change of pace, but the laws in Victoria require you to first get several permits for ~A$50 each to let you work with liquor and food. I've decided it's not worth the hassle for a few months.

What are the conditions for working for MU students?:
Similar as for everyone else. If you have time, it's not too hard to find a part-time job. They're typically fairly well paid, even if you make minimum wage.

Tips for free-time activities:
Melbourne is a cultural hotspot. There's amazing concerts, street parties, rooftop bars, cinemas, theatres, galleries, and many more to see every single day. This is the main reason I recommend staying as close to the centre as possible. Culture-wise, Melbourne is the best city I've had the pleasure of living in.
Concerning nature, Victoria is a very good state to be at, if you have a car at your disposal. There are beaches, mountains, national parks, hot springs, and much more to see.
Also, Deakin has a very well supported system for sports clubs. It's a good way to find new mates.

Financial support and expenses
Total grant from Centre for International Cooperation:
80000 CZK

Monthly grant in CZK:
20000 CZK

Number of supported months:
4

Total number of months:
4

What other sources did you make use of to finance your placement?:
Saved up money from working before.

If you received another grant, state which and how much in CZK:

 
Total fees associated with enrolment at the university:
120 AUD

a/ amount of enrolment fee:
0 AUD

b/ amount of tuition fees:
0 AUD

c/ amount of other fees (which):
120 AUD

 
What was your average monthly expenditure?:
4000 AUD

a/ of which for accommodation:
1400 AUD

b/ of which for catering:
600 AUD

c/ travel and recreation:
2000 AUD

Any comments to the average monthly expenditure:
You'll be spending most of your non-accommodation money on food if you don't cook a lot by yourself (which I did 90% of the time). Second, outings come up to a hefty amount (A$100-150 on average). We did buy a car though, so this bit into my "recreation" budget quite a lot. Overall though, it was a very good move that I definitely recommend doing ASAP (so you get the most out of it).

Recognition of foreign studies at the home faculty
How many credits did you gain during your studies (in the system of the foreign school)?:
3

How many ECTS credits were recognised at MU?:
24

Did you know in advance which of your courses would be recognised by your home faculty?:
Yes. All were recognized as C-level courses, which was my intention to begin with.

What problems did you have with recognition?:
None.

Overall assessment
Assessment of personal benefit (1 = excellent):
1

Assessment of academic benefit (1 = excellent):
4

Evaluate the information and support provided by the foreign school (1 = excellent):
1

Did you encounter any serious problems during your stay:
We did have some issues with a car when we were travelling through the desert. In relation to Deakin, there were not any major problems.

What would you recommend to take with you:
If you're going in T2, winter clothes! But overall, don't take too many things. You'll buy whatever you need in Australia, and you'll be leaving with many more thing that you came with. :)

What most surprised you at the partner university in a positive way:
Quality of the campus' free amenities.

What most surprised you at the partner university in a negative way:
The teaching quality was much worse than expected. The way the school took money off you at every opportunity, with things like overpriced cantinas and expensive accommodation, was fairly unexpected. The Australian students on res were very secluded. Overall, the res life was definitely not what I expected.

Further comments:
All in all, I feel like the reasons my stay was not amazing were easily avoidable if I had more information. So, here's a crash course:
1. Don't stay on Res (in Burwood, at least. I've heard good things about Geelong's waterfront res.)
2. Live somewhere close to the city centre
3. Get a car ASAP
4. Pick your courses wisely, ask the teachers until you're 100% sure you know what you're getting into
5. Go out as much as possible
6. T1 will probably be a better experience than T2, weather and culture-wise. (Summer x winter)
7. Arrive a bit earlier so you're not rushed into finding a place you might not love

All in all, Melbourne is an amazing place to spend a semester or two. You'll see things you've never seen and experience things you've never experienced.