University terminology

University can be a little daunting. It may feel even more so because of the terms we use.

Here are a few of the basics to help you understand what it all means.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Admission pathway: any option available to you as a prospective student that helps you meet the entry requirements of your chosen course(s).

Adjustment factors: these are extra points we can use in combination with your Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) to work out your course selection rank. Adjustments don't change your ATAR, but they do change your selection rank for a particular course or courses. Here are some common types of adjustment factors.

  • elite athlete and performer adjustments: adjustments available on the basis of your sporting or artistic prowess.
  • equity adjustment: adjustment available on the basis of characteristics associated with disadvantage.
  • location adjustment: adjustment available on the basis of your proximity to the institution offering your course.
  • subject adjustment: adjustment in recognition of your performance in Year 12 subjects that are relevant to the course(s) you've applied for.
  • maximum adjustment: the total adjustments possible to your selection rank from the combination of all the adjustments you're eligible for.

Advanced standing: a form of credit for any previous learning (Australian Qualifications Framework definition) – also see the definitions for 'credit transfer' and 'recognition of prior learning'.

Applicant and prospective student: we use applicant and prospective student to describe you at the different stages of your application process.

You're considered an applicant if you've already lodged your application to study a specific course. You're considered a prospective student if you're thinking about lodging your application to study a particular course but haven't done so yet.

Alumni: an association for students who have graduated.

Articulation: articulated courses are a set of courses that are 'nested' - meaning that the subjects studied at each level are credited towards the next level of qualification. For example, an associate degree can articulate into a bachelor's degree. This means that on completion of your associate degree you can keep studying for your bachelor's degree, and you'll get full credit for the all subjects you studied in the associate degree.

Associate degree: a broad undergraduate qualification that's usually completed in two years of full-time study or equivalent. An associate degree is often articulated* with a bachelor's degree. So students who go on to study the bachelor's degree will gain credit for all the subjects they studied in the associate degree.

ATAR: Australian Tertiary Admissions Ranking. The ATAR is what used to be called your UAI or ENTER. It's a measure of your achievement in the HSC or VCE that assists with ranking applicants for selection to a university course.

Award: a degree, graduate diploma, graduate certificate, associate degree, diploma or associate diploma conferred by the university when you complete your course or program of research.


Bachelor's degree: the award you gain when you've completed your undergraduate course, which usually takes three or four years of full-time study.

Bridging course: a course which helps you get up to speed in a specialist area that's a core component of a course you want to do. For example, if you want to study a course which requires a prerequisite in an area you've never studied before, a bridging course will help you 'bridge the gap' in your knowledge and gain admission.


Campus: the grounds of the university. Charles Sturt has six main campuses, and other locations you can study at.

Census date: the date by which you need to finalise your subject selection and payment for a particular session.

Commonwealth supported place (CSP): a place at a university or higher education provider where the government pays part of your fees. This part is a subsidy, not a loan, and you don't have to pay it back. Formerly known as a HECS place.

Core subjects: the subjects in a course that you must complete.

Co-requisite: Academic Senate discontinued the use of co-requisites in September 2009.

Course coordinator: an academic staff member responsible for student administrative matters relating to a course.

CRICOS code: the course registration number with the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students.

Credit: if you've previously studied, perhaps at TAFE, or have other Recognised Prior Learning (RPL), we may be able to give you credit for a subject or subjects in your course.

Credit transfer: a process that provides students with agreed and consistent credit outcomes for components of a qualification based on identified equivalence in content and learning outcomes between matched qualifications (Australian Qualifications Framework definition).

Interact2: Charles Sturt University's online learning and teaching environment.


Dean: the academic staff member who manages a particular faculty.

Defer: to delay starting your course. Deferring your offer of a place in a course means you'd like to delay starting your course for six or 12 months. Deferment guarantees your place in your selected course, but allows you some 'breathing space' between the demands of the HSC or VCE and starting a new life at university.

Direct application: when you apply directly to the university, rather than through a tertiary admission centre.

Distance education: a mode of study allowing you to complete your course from home or your workplace. Also known as online learning.

Double degree: you can enhance your career opportunities by completing a double degree. This integrates studies in two complementary areas. You'll graduate with two degrees, usually after four years of study.


Early offer: where we make an offer of enrolment to a recent secondary school student prior to the release of ATARs or equivalent (e.g. OP in Queensland, IB). These offers are generally conditional on other requirements being met, such as successful completion of a Senior Secondary Certificate of Education or achievement of a specified minimum ATAR.

Elective: an optional subject you select in addition to the core subjects of your course.

Enabling course: a course designed to give you the skills you need to successfully transition to tertiary education. For example, study techniques or English language skills. Enabling courses help prepare you for admission to a course that leads to a higher education award.

Experience based entry scheme: a selection method we use to assess and select students who may not have educational qualifications sufficient for an offer of admission to a course but who have other relevant work and life skills and experience that make them a suitable candidate.


Faculty: a university department devoted to a particular area of study. At Charles Sturt University we have three:

  • Faculty of Arts and Education
  • Faculty of Business, Justice and Behavioural Sciences
  • Faculty of Science.

Full-time student: a student enrolled in subjects which amount to 75 per cent or more of the normal full-time study load for a session. A normal full-time study load for a student is four 8 point subjects in each of the two sessions per year.


GPA: we calculate your Grade Point Average (GPA) from the results of each subject you complete.

Graduand: a person who has completed their study and assessments, but not yet graduated.

Graduate study: study you do after completing a bachelor's degree, either immediately or after some time in the workforce (some courses may have practical work experience as a requirement of entry). Through graduate study, you'll have the opportunity to build on your knowledge in a complimentary or different area.

Graduate certificate: normally undertaken after completing a bachelor's degree, a graduate certificate consists of one year of part-time study, and can be a good way to ease back into study. A graduate certificate usually requires no previous study in the same discipline area, which gives you the opportunity to extend your knowledge into different areas.

Graduate diploma: usually two years part-time study for a more advanced qualification following the completion of a bachelor's degree. A graduate diploma usually requires no previous study in the same discipline area.


HECS-HELP: a loan scheme that helps eligible Commonwealth supported students pay their student contribution amount.

Higher Degree by Coursework: this form of postgraduate study enables you to combine course work with a dissertation (or thesis).

Higher Degree by Research: this form of postgraduate study enables you to spend two-thirds or more of your time on original and significant research.

Honours: many four-year bachelor's degrees integrate a year of honours study, offering a pass stream or honours stream in the final year of the course. The honours year allows you to focus on an area that interests you. This may be helpful for your future career prospects after graduation. Some three-year courses also offer a separate year of honours study.


Intake: the month in which the course starts for new students.

Intensive school: a short period of study, usually up to one or two weeks, where online students come on campus to complete units or assessment tasks for a subject. These may be compulsory or optional.

Interact: a collaborative online environment for learning and teaching.

International student: students without Australian or New Zealand citizenship, who don't have permanent residency status in Australia.

Internship/practicum: practical training in a working environment, similar to work experience. Many Charles Sturt University degrees incorporate this as part of your hands-on learning.


Lecture: a period of teaching given by a lecturer to a large group of students.


Major study: an area within a course that allows in-depth study in a particular field. A major usually consists of eight related subjects. More than one major may be allowed in a course.

Minor study: grouping of between four and seven subjects within a course, allowing you to focus on a particular field.


Offer round(s): refers to the series of dates on which offers of higher education places are issued to applicants throughout the year, whether through a tertiary admission centre or directly by a higher education provider.

Online learning: a mode of study allowing you to complete your course from home or your workplace. Also known as distance education.


Part-time student: a student enrolled in subjects which amount to less than 75 per cent of the normal full-time study load for a session.

Plagiarism: the dishonest use of someone else's ideas, words, concepts or theories by presenting them as your own.

Postgraduate: a person who has a degree from a university and is studying for a more advanced qualification, e.g. an award at graduate certificate, graduate diploma, master or doctoral level. For postgraduate awards, you need to have previous study or experience in the same discipline area as the award, so the postgraduate course builds on your earlier study and knowledge.

Prerequisite: a set of conditions (usually completion of a subject) that you need to meet before you can enrol in a particular subject.


Recognition of prior learning (RPL): a process we use to assess your relevant prior learning (including formal, informal and non-formal learning) to determine the credit we can give you towards completion of a qualification (adapted from Australian Qualifications Framework definition).


School recommendation: a recommendation from your school or other secondary education provider on your abilities. Sometimes known as a principal’s recommendation.

Selection rank: the ranking universities use to assess admission to a course. A selection rank includes your ATAR plus any adjustments you're eligible for, such as equity, location or subject adjustments. It can also include portfolio assessments and supplementary test results.

Session: a period of time during which classes are held, usually March, July and November.

Subject points: a value assigned to a subject to reflect the relative weighting of the subject. At Charles Sturt, a standard one session subject is assigned 8 points.


TAC application: application made through a tertiary admission centre, namely QTAC, UAC, VTAC, SATAC, TISC and University of Tasmania, in relation to applications to study in that state.

Testamur: the certificate we give you on graduation that testifies you've successfully completed your course.

Tutorial: a period of teaching given to a small group of students, involving discussion and participation.


UAC: Universities Admissions Centre (NSW and ACT) Pty Ltd. All NSW and ACT students who want to apply for full-time on campus courses must apply online through UAC or VTAC.

Undergraduate: a person studying at a university for a first level degree, e.g. an award at associate diploma, diploma, associate degree, bachelor or bachelor (honours) level.

Undergraduate study: is the entry level to university. Most undergraduate study is done at a bachelor level.

University Certificate: an undergraduate qualification equivalent to 8 standard subjects, usually completed in a year of full-time study or equivalent.


VTAC: Victorian Tertiary Admission Centre.

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