I wrote this in order to explain a little about my impression of and differences I felt on an academic level from my undergraduate university, UFRJ in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Technion, the university that I am currently studying towards my MSc. degree at in Israel.
My name is Daniel and I studied Electronic and Computer Engineering at The Federal University of Rio De Janeiro (UFRJ). I graduated November of 2016. A little later, in March of 2017, I started on my Masters Degree in Biomedical Engineering in Technion, Israel.
Besides all the changes related to moving and living abroad in a different country, the differences that I am already sensing on an academic level are big. And maybe explaining them could help to develop Brazil`s university system a little step further.
I would like to point out some of them:
1) Engaged and interested students.
Students here seem to be more interested in what they are learning.
Possibly the cause: After the army service, people by choice decide to join university. It is known fact that the army forces teens to became more mature and to deal with difficult situations more often, and one direct consequences of this is that people usually start studying their first degree at the age of 24th (typically more mature).
2) Teachers are more interested in teaching + Studies framework is well built .
Most of the Teachers of electronic and computer engineering from UFRJ that I had as student were not that interested in teaching and (probably consequently) delivering good classes. That is most likely why the grade averages were and are usually so low. Here at Technion, I feel that teachers are more interested in teaching and making everyone understand the subject. Apart from regular classes most of the courses also have exercise classes that improve the knowledge and the applicability of what has been learnt. Moreover, university teachers make in a month $4.500,00+ , which I assume that it stimulates them more.
The students here in technion usually ask tons of questions throughout the classes (usually detail focus questions). The cause is related to the first point above but also sustains itself on two factors:
a) To question everything is part of the Israeli culture. Not only question, but even not fearing anything (what can be very problematic sometimes).
b) Technion has a weird way of testing their students. Usually the tests concentrates not only on the subjects passed in class but also in extra details that usually come with lots of study. (looooots!)
4) Teachers Feedback
Here, teachers fear the bad feedback grades that their students potentially can give them at the end of the semester. This also improves the quality of classes.
5) Excellency Stimuli
They incentivize and foment excellency in grades. There are several prizes and scholarships awarded to students with good grades and good thesis.
6) Facilities and Students Organization
Technion provides excellent facilities to its students. From the majority of the dorms to and excellent Gym that has Sauna + Jacuzzi + Olympic Pool. The student organization is responsible for the maintenance of all of this and also to create several events along the semester including big parties, shows and more. This all stimulates the students to occupy the university site and to really live on campus. At UFRJ this is not very much the case.
Last, but not least, I would like to emphasize against the misleading information that people at Technion are geniuses and smart. Although there are many people here that do not perform well, It could be true. However I would say that they are just regular people in a good system (that has its failures).
Overall this is what improves the learning potential.