Glossary

Term Description

A

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

A person of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies themselves as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community in which they live.

Admission pathway

Any option available to prospective higher education students that will enable them to meet the entry requirements of their chosen courses.

Adjustment factors

Often referred to previously as “bonus points”, these are additional points that may be used in combination with an applicant’s Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) to derive a person’s course Selection Rank. Adjustments do not change applicants’ ATARs, but change their Selection Rank for a particular course or courses. Common types of adjustment factors are:

  • Elite Athlete and Performer adjustments available on the basis of the applicant’s sporting or artistic prowess.
  • Equity adjustment available on the basis of characteristics associated with disadvantage.
  • Location adjustment available on the basis of the applicant’s proximity to the institution offering the course.
  • Subject adjustment available on the basis of the particular relevance to the academic requirements of a higher education course of a secondary subject that the applicant undertook.
  • Maximum adjustment is the total maximum adjustments possible to an applicant’s Selection Rank from the combination of all adjustments they are eligible for.

Advanced diploma

An undergraduate award that provides more specialised knowledge and skills, including theoretical, technical, creative and conceptual skills.

Advanced standing

A form of credit for any previous learning (Australian Qualifications Framework definition) – see also the definitions for “credit transfer” and “recognition of prior learning”.

Applicant & prospective student

The term applicant and prospective students are used by Tertiary Admissions Centres and higher education institutions to describe people at different stages of their application processes. An applicant is generally taken to be a person who has already lodged an application to study a specific course. A prospective student is generally taken to be a person who is thinking about lodging an application to study a particular course but has not yet done so.

Associate degree

An undergraduate award that provides more specialised knowledge and skills, with depth in some areas. Commonly articulates to bachelor degree programs in the same or closely related fields.

Australian Research Council (ARC)

The ARC is a statutory agency under the Department of Education and Training portfolio within the Australian Government. Its mission is to deliver policy and programs that advance Australian research and innovation globally and benefit the community. 

Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED)

The Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED) is comprised of two component classifications, Level of Education and Field of Education. It provides a basis for comparable administrative and statistical data on educational activities and attainment classified by level and field.

Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR)

The Australian Tertiary Admission Rank indicates a student's position in relation to other students in that state. The ATAR is not a mark, it is a rank, used by universities to help them select Year 12 students for entry into their courses. The ATAR is a number between 0.00 and 99.95 with increments of 0.05 that indicates a student’s achievement relative to other students. For example, an ATAR of 80.00 means that you are in the top 20 per cent of your age cohort. In all states and territories except Queensland, the ranking is known as the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). In Queensland, it is known as the Overall Position (OP) rank.

Award

A recognised certification of achievement or competence, which may be granted to a student after completion of all the requirements of a higher education course or vocational education and training (e.g. TAFE) course.

B

Bachelor degree

The main undergraduate award offered in higher education that provides a broad theoretical understanding of the underlying principles and concepts relating to a specific or general body of knowledge. It prepares students for entry to particular professions, vocations, or postgraduate study.

Basis of admission

The main criterion used by higher education institutions in granting a student admission to a current course.

Bridging course

A course which assists students to gain knowledge in specialist areas that are a core component of the course. If a course requires a prerequisite in an area that students have not studied or worked with before, a bridging course will help students to bridge the gap in that knowledge and gain admission.

C

Campus

The physical location from where a program of study is being primarily delivered. This location may or may not be owned by the higher education provider that enrols the student. For online or other distance education courses, this would be the location where the electronic course material is maintained.

Census date

Deadline for various requirements, including submitting your Request for Commonwealth assistance form or eCAF, making any up-front payments of your student contributions or tuition fees and formally withdrawing from any units.

Collection year

The calendar year the Department of Education and Training collects the data.

Commencing student

A student enrolled in a course for the first time at a university or other higher education provider.

Commonwealth supported place (formerly HECS)

A place at an approved provider that is subsidised by the Australian Government so that students only have to pay ‘student contribution’ amounts for their units of study.

Commonwealth supported student

A student who is enrolled in a Commonwealth supported place at an approved provider. Most domestic students who study their undergraduate degree at university do so as Commonwealth supported students.  The Australian Government provides subsidies to Commonwealth supported students by paying part of the fees directly to the university.

Course Experience Questionnaire (CEQ)

The Course Experience Questionnaire is a questionnaire completed by graduates of Australian higher education institutions approximately four months after completion of their courses. This survey provides information about the quality of the education provided within Australian institutions. The survey asks graduates to what extent they agree with a series of statements about their study experiences. The survey asks graduates to respond to a series of questions related to their experiences regarding particular topics.

Course length

The normal length of time it takes to complete a course when studying full time 1.00 EFTSL per year (e.g. most bachelor level courses are three or four years).

Course of study

Studies leading to a higher education award e.g. bachelor degree.

Coursework

Coursework is written, oral or practical work completed by a student during a course of study, usually assessed in order to count towards a final mark or grade.

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).

D

Department of Education and Training

The Department of Education and Training is responsible for national policies and programs that help Australians access quality and affordable childcare, early childhood education, school education, post-school, higher education, international education and academic research.

Diploma

An undergraduate award that provides basic knowledge and skills, with depth in some areas. Includes application of theoretical concepts and technical or creative skills.

Direct application

Application made to a higher education provider rather than through a Tertiary Admissions Centre.

Disability support

Support and assistance for students with disabilities.

Distance education

A mode of study where students can undertake a course of study 'off-campus'. The students generally complete their course online.

Doctoral degree

A postgraduate award that has an in-depth theoretical focus. Involves an original research project in a particular field of interest within the broader area of interest previously studied. Produces a significant contribution to knowledge and understanding in the chosen field.

Domestic fee-paying student

A domestic student who is not Commonwealth supported for a unit of study. Fee-paying students pay tuition fees. Fee-paying students are also known as ‘non-Commonwealth-supported students’.

Domestic student

A student who is an Australian citizen, a New Zealand citizen or the holder of a permanent visa.

Duration

The duration of a course is the total Equivalent Full Time Study Load (EFTSL).  For universities that offer intensive or accelerated learning programs, the duration of the course of study can be reduced.  

E

Early offer

Where an offer of enrolment is made to a recent secondary school student prior to release of ATARs or equivalent (e.g. OP in Queensland, IB). Such 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.

Equivalent full-time student load (EFTSL)

How the study load for students is measured. One EFTSL is the study load, for a year, of a student undertaking their course on a full-time basis.

Eligibility score

The score determined by the institution as the lowest score at which any student, whether Commonwealth supported or domestic fee-paying, will be eligible for consideration for a course, excluding special entry.

Employer Satisfaction Survey (ESS)

The Employer Satisfaction Survey is a survey that measures the quality of education provided within individual Australian institutions. This survey asks supervisors to provide feedback about the generic skills, technical skills and work readiness of the graduate employed in their workplace.

Enabling course

A course designed to provide students with skills needed for success in further study, to assist in the transition to tertiary education – for example study techniques or English language skills. Successful completion helps prepare a person to be admitted to a course that leads to a higher education award.

English language programs

Support programs for students who have a language other than English as their first language.

Experience based entry scheme

A selection method used by higher education institutions 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.

External student

A mode of attendance where the student is studying a course where regular attendance is not required and lesson materials etc. are delivered to the student. These students generally complete their study 'off-campus' via online. 

F

FAQ

Frequently asked question.

Fees

The course fees shown are a guide to approximately how much a full-time student could expect to pay in student contributions or tuition fees for their first year of study.

FEE-HELP

Australian Government loan program to help eligible fee-paying students to pay their tuition fees.

Fee-paying place

A place in a course which is not a Commonwealth Supported Place (i.e. not subsidised by the Australian Government) and for which tuition fees are payable. Students enrolled in a fee-paying place pay tuition fees. 

Fee-paying student

A student who is enrolled in a fee-paying place and who pays tuition fees for their course at an approved provider.

Field of Education

The Field of Education classification is used to describe higher education courses, specialisations and units of study with the same or similar vocational emphasis. The Field of Education is categorised by the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED) which is a statistical classification for use in the collection and analysis of data on educational activity and attainment.

Flexible learning

A type of course that caters for a range of different learning styles and needs through various access opportunities (face-to-face, distance, intense attendance modules) and learning modes.

Full-time student

A student is classified as full-time when their student load aggregated for all courses they are studying in the reporting year is 0.75 of an EFTSL or more.

G

Graduate certificate

A postgraduate award that provides specialisation by developing or broadening vocational knowledge and skills or recognises some practical experience in a particular field of interest through an understanding, application and critical examination of principles, theories, models and methods.

Graduate diploma

A postgraduate award that extends graduate specialisation by developing or broadening vocational knowledge and skills in a new or existing field of interest through understanding, application and critical examination of principles, theories, models and methods. Develops practical experience in a chosen professional activity.

Graduate employment

Graduate employment is an indicator on the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) website. This is an outcome sourced from the Graduate Destinations Survey (GDS) and the Graduate Outcomes Survey (GOS). These surveys provide information on the labour market outcomes and further study activities of graduates. Both the GDS and the GOS surveys are completed by graduates from Australian higher education institutions approximately four months after course completion.

Graduate Outcomes Survey (GOS)

The Graduate Outcomes Survey is a survey that is completed by graduates from Australian higher education institutions approximately four months after completion of their course. This survey provides information on labour market outcomes and further study activities of graduates that year.

Graduate satisfaction

Graduate satisfaction is an indicator on the QILT website. Graduate satisfaction is sourced from the Course Experience Questionnaire (CEQ). It measures a student’s satisfaction with the quality of education provided by their institution (e.g. overall satisfaction, good teaching practices, generic skills gained).

H

HECS-HELP

HECS‑HELP is an Australian Government loan program to help eligible Commonwealth supported students to pay their student contribution amounts. Before 2005 this was known as ‘HECS’. 

Higher Education Loan Program (HELP)

An Australian Government loan program that helps eligible students to pay their student contributions, tuition fees and overseas study expenses. These loans are repaid through the Australian tax system.

Higher education provider

An organisation established by, or recognised by, the Commonwealth, a state or territory. Providers must be approved by the Australian government to offer Commonwealth Supported places or HELP loans to eligible students.

Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA)

The legislation that outlines the administrative requirements behind the Commonwealth Supported Places and the Higher Education Loan Program. These administrative requirements are also set out in various guidelines that sit under HESA.

I

Incidental fees

Incidental fees are those which are in addition to student contributions or tuition fees. They are used for goods or services that are related to study. e.g. textbooks.

Institution

An institution is an organisation that provides a higher, post-secondary and/or tertiary education.

Internal student

A mode of attendance where the student physically attends the higher education provider on a regular basis.

International Baccalaureate (IB)

The International Baccalaureate is an international educational foundation founded in 1968 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The IB Diploma program is a senior secondary education curriculum and assessment framework offered by some schools as an alternative to the Australian National Curriculum and overseen by state and territory curriculum and assessment authorities. Australian Tertiary Admissions Centres (TACs) convert IB scores to a notional ATAR or QTAC Selection Rank (not an OP), enabling IB students to be ranked for tertiary entrance alongside their peers.

International student

Any student who is not a domestic student.

L

Level of qualification

This website currently displays undergraduate courses only. Undergraduate courses include courses of study accredited at the undergraduate level and leads to the award of a diploma, advanced diploma, associate degree or a bachelor degree (pass, honours or graduate entry).

Lowest OP/ATAR to receive an offer

This is the lowest score for all students offered a place in 2018 wholly or partly on the basis of OP/ATAR excluding any adjustment factors.

Lowest selection rank to receive an offer

This is the lowest selection rank for all students offered a place in 2018, wholly or partly on the basis of OP/ATAR including any adjustment factors.

Minimum ATAR (or selection rank) required for consideration to enter in next intake

For use where a threshold minimum ATAR or selection rank must be achieved to be considered for admission to a course or institution.

Guaranteed Entry ATAR (or selection rank)

The Guaranteed Entry ATAR is used where achievement of a specified ATAR or selection rank (as appropriate) will guarantee acceptance into a course or institution, subject to any non-ATAR criteria being met, such as prerequisite study or English language proficiency.

M

Masters degree

A postgraduate award that has an in-depth theoretical focus, usually involving coursework and/or research, in a particular field of academic interest or the enhancement of professional and vocational skills.

Median graduate salary

The median graduate salary level of bachelor degree graduates who were working full-time four months after completion of their courses. The data used to calculate the median is restricted to Australian residents and excludes questionnaires completed by relatives or from administrative data.

N

National priority area

The Commonwealth offers additional assistance for courses in national priority areas, either through offering additional Commonwealth supported places, increasing Commonwealth contributions or reducing the maximum student contribution amounts for a place. Currently, education and nursing are the key National Priority areas.

Non-award course

If a student is enrolled with a provider in a subject or unit that may be undertaken as part of a course of study; course of instruction; tuition and training program; but the unit, course or program is not being undertaken as part of a course of study, then the enrolment is on a non-award basis. A subject unit leading to a higher education qualification or a VET accredited qualification.

Non-university

A higher education provider that is not a university.

O

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 Admissions Centre (TAC) or directly by a higher education provider.

Offshore campus

A campus of an Australian higher education provider, through which a program of study is being delivered, which is located outside Australia.

Overall employment

Graduate employment is an indicator on the QILT website and is an outcome sourced from the Graduate Destinations Survey (GDS) and the Graduate Outcomes Survey (GOS). These surveys provide information on labour market outcomes and further study activities of graduates. Both the GDS and the GOS surveys are completed by graduates from Australian higher education institutions approximately four months after course completion.

Overall Position (OP)

The Overall Position (OP) is a tertiary entrance ranking system used in Queensland and is used instead of the Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR). In 2020, the OP will be replaced by the ATAR.

Overseas student

Any student who is not a domestic student.

P

Part-time student

A student is classified as part-time when their student load aggregated for all courses they are studying in the reporting year is less than 0.75 of an EFTSL.

Permanent visa holder

A person who holds a visa of one of the subclasses listed in the permanent visa sub-class list.

PhD

PhD is an abbreviation of ‘Doctor of Philosophy’ and is the main type of doctoral degree in Australia (see definition of doctoral degree). A PhD involves original research and can be undertaken in any field.

Positive student experience 

For an institution, the percentage of undergraduate students at an institution who rated their overall educational experience positively, based on a single question in the Student Experience Survey (SES).

For a study area, the percentage of undergraduate students at an institution who rated their overall educational experience positively, based on a single question in the Student Experience Survey (SES).

Postgraduate course

A course of study accredited at the postgraduate level and leads to the award of a graduate certificate, graduate diploma, masters degree or doctoral degree.  

Provider

An institution or organisation that provides an education service e.g. a university, private higher education provider or registered training organisation.

Q

QILT

Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) is an Australian Government program that brings survey data together about Australian institutions to help students make the best choice for their future study. The QILT website allows students to compare the quality of learning and teaching in different Australian higher education institutions. These comparisons can be generated between different institutions or by study areas.

QTAC

The Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC) operates a centralised tertiary application service for Queensland universities, Bond University, Australian Maritime College, some Northern New South Wales courses and some private tertiary education institutions.

R

Recognition of prior learning (RPL)

A process used to assess an individual’s relevant prior learning (including formal, informal and non-formal learning) to determine the credit that may be granted towards completion of a qualification (adapted from Australian Qualifications Framework definition).

Regional/remote student

The student’s postcode of permanent home residence is mapped to regional/remote categories using the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) classification. It includes domestic students with a permanent home residence in Australia only.

Research student

A student who is undertaking a masters degree by research or a doctoral degree. It excludes those undertaking a masters degree by coursework.

Residential school

A student may be required to attend a residential school if they are completing a distance or online course. This provides a block of time in which a student attends classes with other students doing the course.

S

SATAC

The South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre (SATAC) processes applications for many of the courses offered by participating institutions, including the South Australian universities and Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory.

School recommendation

A recommendation from a school or other secondary education provider on the abilities of a student. Previously referred to by some as a principal’s recommendation.

Selection rank

The ranking that Tertiary Admissions Centres and most universities use to assess admission to a course. A person’s course selection rank can include their ATAR, any adjustments they are eligible for, such as equity or subject adjustments, and other contributions, such as work experience, portfolio assessments, or results from the Special Tertiary Admissions Test.

Student Experience Survey (SES)

The Student Experience Survey (SES) is the only comprehensive survey of current higher education students in Australia. The six indicators from the SES displayed on the QILT website each show the percentage of students providing positive feedback on various aspects of their higher education experience.

Student services and amenities fee

Universities and other higher education institutions are able to charge students a fee for student services and amenities of a non-academic nature.  The fee may be spent by higher education institutions on items such as: health and welfare services, sporting and recreational activities, employment and career advice, childcare, financial advice services and food services. Eligible students can choose to defer all or part of their fee for the relevant year.

Study area

Study areas are compiled based on the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED),which groups higher education courses, specialisations and units of study with the same or similar vocational emphasis. Course Seeker lists 21 different study areas to review. 

 

T

Tertiary Admissions Centre (TAC)

A state-based central office that receives and processes applications for admissions into tertiary courses offered by participating higher education providers and provides the state-based tertiary admissions rankings.

TAC application

Application made through a Tertiary Admissions Centre in relation to applications to study in that state.

TISC

The Tertiary Institutions Service Centre processes applications for admissions to most undergraduate courses at participating institutions in Western Australia.

Tuition fees

Fees that fee paying students (i.e. those not enrolled in a Commonwealth Supported Place) are charged. These fees are set by individual institutions.

U

UAC

The Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) processes applications for admission to most undergraduate courses at participating institutions (mainly located in NSW and the ACT).

Undergraduate course

A course of study accredited at the undergraduate level and leads to the award of a diploma, advanced diploma, associate degree or a bachelor degree (pass, honours or graduate entry).

University

A higher education provider that is established as a university or recognised as a university, by or under a law of the Commonwealth, a state, the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory, and meets nationally agreed criteria for a university.

V

VTAC

The Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC) is the central office that administers the application processes for places in tertiary courses, scholarships and the Special Entry Access Scheme at universities, TAFEs and independent tertiary colleges in Victoria (and a few outside Victoria).

Y

Year established

The year the institution was established as a university.

Year of offer

The year that students are applying to study a course.