University can be quite daunting, and made even more so because of the terminology used to describe courses.

Here are a few of the basics to help you understand the terms we use.


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: Adjustments available on the basis of the applicant’s sporting or artistic prowess.
  • Equity adjustment: Adjustment available on the basis of characteristics associated with disadvantage.
  • Location adjustment: Adjustment available on the basis of the applicant’s proximity to the institution offering the course.
  • Subject adjustment: 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: The maximum total adjustments possible to an applicant’s Selection Rank from the combination of all adjustments they are eligible for.

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 and prospective student: The term applicant and prospective students are used by tertiary admission 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.

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 Degree, meaning on completion of the Associate Degree the student can continue studying for the Bachelor Degree gaining full credit for all subjects studied in the Associate Degree.

Associate Degree - A broad undergraduate qualification that is usually completed in two years of full time study or equivalent. An Associate Degree is often articulated* with a Bachelor degree, so those students who go on to study the Bachelor degree will gain credit for all the subjects studied in the Associate Degree.

ATAR - Australian Tertiary Admissions Ranking. The ATAR is what was previously known as your UAI or ENTER, and is a measure of your achievement in the HSC 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 upon completion of a course or a program of research.


Bachelor degree - the award a student gains when they have completed studies in an undergraduate course, which is usually completed in three or four years of full-time study.

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.


Campus - the location responsible for the control of courses and students.

Census date - the date by which you must have finalised your subject selection and payment for a particular session.

Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) - a student's enrolment in a university degree for which the Commonwealth government makes a contribution towards the cost of that student's education. Formerly known as a HECS place.

Core subjects - the subjects in a course that all students are required to complete.

Corequisite - Academic Senate discontinued the use of corequisites in September 2009.

Course Coordinator - a member of the academic staff in a Faculty responsible for administrative matters relating to students enrolled in a course.

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

Credit - if you have previously studied, perhaps at TAFE, or have other Recognised Prior Learning (RPL), you may be able to receive 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).


Dean - the member of academic staff responsible for the management of a Faculty.

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

Direct application: Application made to a higher education provider rather than through a tertiary admission centre.

Distance education (DE) - a mode of study allowing students to complete their course from their home or workplace.

Double degree - a student can enhance their career opportunities by completing a double degree. This integrates studies in two complementary areas resulting in the award of two degrees, usually after four years of study.


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.

Elective - an optional subject selected in addition to the core subjects of the course.

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.

Experience based entry scheme: A selection method used by higher education providers 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 department within a university devoted to a particular area of studies. At Charles Sturt we have the faculties of Arts, Business, Education and Science.

Full-time student - a student enrolled in subjects which amount to 75% 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 - a student's Grade Point Average (GPA) is calculated from the results in each subject completed.

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

Graduate study - These are normally undertaken after completing a Bachelor degree, either immediately or after a period in the workforce (some courses may have practical work experience as a requirement of entry). Through graduate study, students have the opportunity to build on their knowledge in a complimentary or different area of study.

Graduate Certificate - Normally undertaken after completing a Bachelor 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, allowing 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 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 to pay their student contribution amount.

Higher Degree by Coursework - This form of postgraduate study enables the student to combine course work with a dissertation (or thesis).

Higher Degree by Research - This form of postgraduate study enables students to spend two-thirds or more of their time on original and significant research.

Honours - many four-year Bachelor 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 students to focus on an area that interests them, and this may be helpful with career prospects on completion. Some three-year courses offer a separate year of Honours study.


Intake - the month in which the course will commence for new students.

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

Interact2 - a collaborative online environment for learning and teaching.

International student - those students without Australian or New Zealand citizenship and who do not have permanent residency status in Australia.

Internship/Practicum - practical training in a working environment, similar to work experience. Many Charles Sturt 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 - a grouping of between four and seven subjects within a course, allowing students 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.


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

Plagiarism - The dishonest use of another person's ideas, words, concepts or theories by presenting them as one's 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, students are required to have previous study or experience in the same discipline area as the award, so that the postgraduate course builds on that earlier study and knowledge.

Prerequisite - a set of conditions (usually completion of a subject) that must be met by a student before enrolment in a particular subject is permitted.

PSA - Prospective Student Adviser. Charles Sturt has several PSAs who are available to discuss Charles Sturt course options with prospective students.


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).


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 universities use to assess admission to a course. A selection rank includes a candidate’s ATAR plus any adjustments they are 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 eight 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 - a certificate received on graduation that testifies that the recipient has successfully completed a particular course of study.

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 wish 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 and is usually completed in a year of full time study or equivalent.


VTAC - Victorian Tertiary Admission Centre.