Higher Education Glossary
levels or Advanced Levels are normally a two year course taken at school level or part time to prepare for UK universities and seen as University entrance exams.
Accident and Emergency
See 'Foundation course'
A qualified professional employed by a university who provides advice to students on different areas. For example, an academic advisor advises a student on options available to them in relation to a course they may be taking, or could possibly take. A tutor may also act as an advisor.
Arts and Humanities Research Council: a non-departmental public body which provides government funding to postgraduate research in humanities fields.
Accredited Prior Certificated Learning: prior learning which has been assessed and awarded a certificate. It is the easier of the two forms of APL to provide evidence for. Students enrolled at an educational institution can apply for accreditation for modules they have taken already.
Accredited Prior and Experiential Learning: skills and knowledge you already possess, due to work or life experiences. Examples may include leisure pursuits, short courses and voluntary work.
Accredited Prior Learning: important and relevant skills and knowledge gained prior to studying at a particular institution.
Australian Qualification Framework
The Academic Ranking of World Universities: a list ranking universities in the world. The list is compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University. It is one of the two most prominent world university rankings, along with the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
Advanced Subsidiary Levels: the first half of a full A level qualification, which is usually a year long.
Asian Development Bank (ADB) - Japan Scholarship Programme offers full scholarships for one to two years for citizens of ADB developing member countries who are pursuing postgraduate studies in development-related fields, at participating academic institutions in the Asian and Pacific Region.
A paid role in which a graduate provides support to a professor or faculty department in the work they conduct. These are usually sponsored by the institution at which you are applying, and are most commonly available for Doctoral candidates in the science and engineering fields. They are excellent opportunities to gain experience in a field relevant to your degree, while earning some financial reward.
A two year qualification following Year 12 or equivalent. This degree emphasises the foundational, research-based knowledge of an academic discipline, is broad-based in conceptual and theoretical content, often multi-disciplinary and develops generic employment-related skills within these discipline(s).
Bachelor of Arts: a degree awarded by a college or university upon satisfactory completion of a three or four year course of study in the humanities, social sciences and related studies.
Bachelor's Degree: an academic degree achieved during undergraduate study.
Bachelor of Obstetrics: a medical degree unique to Ireland.
Bachelor of Surgery: one of the first two professional undergraduate degrees awarded to someone on graduating from medical school in surgery.
British Dental Association
Bachelor of Education: an undergraduate academic degree which qualifies the graduate as a teacher in schools.
Bachelor of Engineering: an undergraduate academic degree awarded to a student after three to five years of studying engineering at universities in Australia, Canada, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States.
British Medical Association
BioMedical Admissions test: an exam requested by institutions in the UK and Singapore prior to an application for a medical degree.
Bachelor of Science: an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses in the field of science that generally lasts three to five years.
Business and Technical Education Council: the national body which validates vocational courses, generally Ordinary or Higher National Certificates or Diplomas, and now NVQs and GNVQs.
Financial award which depends on the financial needs of the student. Recipients usually have to meet certain criteria, like demographic or geography.
Citizens Advice Bureau: an organisation which gives free, confidential advice to help people with money, legal, consumer and other issues.
Career-based further education qualifications for students hoping to work with young children. Acceptable for entry to higher education courses in related areas.
Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies: this is a unique reference number, provided by your future university, college or school, that confirms you have an unconditional offer on a course with a licensed Tier 4 sponsor. It includes details of your course and your qualifications, and it is worth 30 points towards your visa. The CAS is presented in a letter that visa applicants need to add to their visa application.
Central Business District
Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults
Certificate of Higher Education: a certificate usually in social sciences such as teaching, social work, nursing, theology, and composed of one year's study.
A proficiency test established by the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce to measure Business Swedish skills.
University campuses which are spread across a city.
Another term for a graduation ceremony
A public institution which provides higher education and lower-level tertiary education. It is commonly known to offer continuing and adult education.
Read our article about Community Colleges.
Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students: the organisation which all Australian institutions and the courses they offer to international students must be registered to.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation: Australia's premier scientific research body, backed by the government and which maintains relationships with major universities.
Centrala Studiestodsnamnden: body which approves and sends out Swedish financial aid for studies, which includes both grants and loans to students in Sweden and abroad. CSN also handles repayment of student loans.
Conservatories UK Admission Service
A title from a college or university which is awarded in recognition of having satisfactorily completed a prescribed course of study. Additionally, in exceptional circumstances, it can be awarded to someone who has conducted a scholarly or culturally-significant endeavour deemed worthy of his or her admission to the degree.
Department of Homeland Security
Department of Immigration and Citizenship
Diploma of Higher Education: a two year, full-time course which is the equivalent of the first two years of a degree, and can often be used for entry to the third year of a related degree course (commonly in the social sciences such as teaching, social work, nursing, theology).
Also known as ‘Distance Learning’ or ‘Online Study’, this enables students who aren't able to attend classes on campus the opportunity to complete a degree externally. These are often carried out online or through workbooks, while lectures can be completed in their free time. Technology like video-conferencing, podcasts & forums can be used to keep distance students up to date, and allow them to communicate with their lecturers and other students.
Department of State
Disabled Student Allowance: grants to help meet the extra course costs students can face as a direct result of a disability, ongoing health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty.
Also known as a ‘Double Degree’, ‘Combined Degree’ or ‘Simultaneous Degree Programme’, this is where a student is studying towards two different university degrees simultaneously, either at one or two different institutions.
Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency: the agency which issues driving licenses in the UK. If you have a driver’s license which was issued in your home country, you should find out if you can use it to drive in Britain.
English for Academic Purposes
Entry Clearance Officer: a UKBA staff present at immigration control at the airport.
Electronic Confirmation of Enrolment: the only accepted evidence of enrolment for processing student visa applications.
A certification which any private institution in Singapore must have before they can admit International students.
English as a Foreign Language: instruction to speak English for those who are not native speakers.
Read our article about studying English as a Foreign Language.
English Language Teaching/Training
Executive MBA: business programmes which are designed for students with more business experience than students typically enrolled in traditional MBA programmes. See 'MBA'.
The Endeavour Awards provide opportunities for citizens of Europe, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and the Americas to undertake study, research and professional development in any field of study in Australia.
Read our article about Endeavour Awards.
Engineering Technician: a qualification level achieved with a BTEC National Diploma in engineering in the UK.
English as a Second Language: instruction to speak English for those who are not native speakers. Similar to EFL.
English for Speakers of Other Languages
English for Specific Purposes: courses in English language skills which are tailored to suit the needs of particular professions, such as banking, computing or medicine.
A piece of writing which allows the author to share their ideas on a particular subject of personal or professional interest to them. This may be written by an academic or noteworthy figure. It can also refer to a mode of assessment for students.
European Union: a union of European countries based on political and economic reasons.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid: a form that must be completed in order to attend any kind of higher education in America.
A health cover plan offered by the government authority 'Kammarkollegiet'. International students are eligible if their student permit lasts for less than a year.
Foundation Degrees: in the UK these are similar in level to the Associate's Degree awarded in the United States, and are on the same level as the Higher National Diploma. Courses are typically two years long for full-time study, or 3-4 years long for part-time study. They are offered by both universities and colleges of higher education.
Further Education colleges in the UK, which offer a wide range of academic and work-related qualifications. Some colleges offer a broad range of subjects, while others specialise in a particular field of industry.
Some universities award fellowships on the basis of merit and department recommendation. These fellowships usually cover tuition fees and provide a stipend.
The exam period taking place at the end end of every term.
Also known as the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, this is the student visa form which must be filled out prior to the visa interview.
A one-year programme that may award A-level, BTEC Nationals or English language qualifications to study at UK institutions. They usually guarantee progression to a linked degree.
The academic year can be divided into four quarters of three months, each constituting one of the annual seasons.
Essentially member-only clubs that offer residential living. They have their own house near to campus, which most members live in (although you can also be a member while living in a dorm or your own home). They carry out an assortment of activities together, including community service, parties and study groups. You do have to pay a fee to be part of the group, as well as rent for living in the house. Each house has a different personality or culture.
First year undergraduate or first year Doctoral students.
The first week of the academic year when first year students move in and become accustomed to the campus. There will usually be induction events during throughout as well as various social events. Usually classes for all other years will begin the following week, to give first years time to adjust. Some universities will have Fresher’s Fortnight (which is two weeks long instead of just one).
Government-funded exchange programme offering grants for internationals to study in the United States. A list of participating countries is available, with over 155 taking part. The variety of scholarships on offer is wide-ranging, but it is fiercely competitive.
Similar to adult education, further education grants diplomas and certificates in non-traditional areas, with the aim to reinforce work-related skills and vocational courses.
Graduate (Australian) Medical School Admission Test: the test employed by institutions in selecting graduate students who wish to enrol in medical courses in Australia, Ireland and the UK.
Granted by the Gates Foundation, it offers funding of one to three years of study in any discipline at Cambridge University. Candidates apply directly through Cambridge.
General Certificate of Secondary Education: qualifications generally taken in a number of subjects by students aged 14-16 in secondary education in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They usually take two years to complete, in which up to twelve subjects are studied and assessed.
Extended version of GCSE in which students spend more time studying a (usually practical) subject within a vocational context.
Graduate Entry Programmes: offered to graduates of other disciplines (usually science or health-related courses), in order to gain a degree in medicine in four years. These are offered by a number of UK medical schools.
Graduate Management Admission Test: an assessment for candidates to business schools around the world. The exam intends to evaluate the verbal, mathematical and analytical skills that theses schools look for in candidates.
General Practitioner: a general doctor. If you want a routine check-up, you can book an appointment with your GP at your local GP practice (UK).
The Graduate Certificate typically involves broadening individual skills already gained in an undergraduate program, or developing vocational knowledge and skills in a new professional area.
A structured programme that combines working and training in a real working environment, and which is targeted at recent graduates. It can last from a summer period up to three years and seeks to give graduates with work experience.
A qualification which either broadens individual skills obtained in an undergraduate program, or develops vocational knowledge and skills in a new professional area. This qualification can also be described as further specialisation within a systematic and coherent body of knowledge.
Graduate Record Examinations: examinations for applications to postgraduate courses in the US.
Goods and Services Tax: a flat 10% tax on all goods and services – accommodation, eating out, transport, books, furniture, clothing etc. If you purchase new or second-hand goods with a total minimum value of $300 from any one supplier no more than 30 days before you leave Australia, under the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS), you are entitled to a refund of any GST paid.
Graduate Teaching Training Registry
Higher Education Maintenance Grant
Higher National Certificate: a vocational qualification designed to prepare students for a career, or for entry into the third year of an undergraduate degree programme. This is a one year programme.
Higher National Diploma: a vocational, work-related qualification which is considered an equivalent to the first two years of a three year undergraduate degree. Business and law are two examples of fields where HND qualifications are available. Depending on the course, a HND can be "topped up", whereby a university will allow entry to the third year of a course (though this will depend on what modules a student has taken for their HND).
A resident of the UK or the EEA, who has lived in the UK for the last three years. This category is used to distinguish home fees payers from overseas fees payers./
Accommodation provided in a family house.
See ‘Honours degree’.
Honours degree with a Foundation year, which is usually a four-year course overall.
A degree given the maximum honours based on performance. An honours degree is given to those who achieve above 75% of the total marks. In some countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia, an honours degree consists of an additional year's study.
Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students): a document issued by SEVP-certified schools (colleges, universities, and vocational schools) that provides supporting information on a student's F or M status. The form also includes the student tracking number (SEVIS ID number) and school code.
Information and Communication Technology
International English Language test: a language proficiency test to measure an applicant's ability to understand English when applying to universities where the main academic component is taught in English. This is widely accepted by UK, Australian and most US universities. Each university will have their own specific standard which applicants have to meet to proceed to study; find out directly from your university (or on their individual page on our site).
Intensive English Programme
International Foundation Year. See 'Foundation course'.
An international version of the GCSE. Students usually study up to 12 subjects during 2 years.
Chartered Institute of Legal Executives
A card given to foreigners on inbound flights to the UK and Australia. Some personal information and details of your visit are asked. This card is then handed in at the immigration checkpoint.
International Student Identity Card
International Student Admissions Test: a test used by some Australian universities as part of their admission process for undergraduate students.
Third year undergraduate student
Local Education Authority: a local authority which oversees all matters of education within its jurisdiction, including funding. p>
Stands for Legum Baccalaureus, this is an undergraduate Law degree.
Stands for Legum Magister, this is a postgraduate Law degree.
National Admissions test for Law: an additional pre-university qualification that enables institutions to choose between candidates applying for very competitive undergraduate courses.
Bachelor of Medicine
Master of Business Administration: a Master's programme in Business, and is open to those in various disciplines such as marketing, finance, HR and accounting.
Stands for the Latin phrase ‘Medicinae Baccalaureus, Baccalaureus Chirurgiae’, a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery are the two first professional degrees awarded upon graduation from medical school in medicine and surgery. These are awarded by universities in those countries which follow the UK system.
Medical College Admission Test: a test for entry to study medical degrees.
Master of Engineering: sometimes offered as a 3+1 qualification (3 years of undergraduate + masters)
Master in Information Technology
Masters in Philosophy
Malaysian Qualifications Agency: the national quality assurance agency which conducts quality checks to programmes that are offered to international students.
Medical Research Council
Master of Science, which is sometimes offered as a four-year undergraduate degree, or 3+1 qualification (3 years of undergraduate + masters).
National Electronic Funds Transfer: a system used in India to transfer monetary funds. Around 87,000 bank branches are enabled to make NEFT payments. You may also make your NEFT payment through online or mobile banking.
National Health Service: the health service in the UK (and the world's largest publicly funded health service). The NHS provides care for anyone who is resident in the UK, with most care being free. As an international student, you have access to medical care under the NHS, though you should check to see what exactly you are entitled to.p>
National Insurance number, refers to the ID number that is allocated to adults in the UK. It is used in the administration of national insurance and social security, as well as having some purposes in the country's tax system. Because it is the only number allocated to almost every adult resident of the country, it is used for some limited purposes to check identity.
National Institute of Technical Education Certificate
National Student Survey: a survey which asks final year undergraduate students in the UK for feedback on their experience. Questions will enquire about issues such as teaching, organisation and management, and overall level of satisfaction. The results are published by Unistats every year.
National Union of Students
Essentially your student card or I.D. which you identifies you as a student studying in the UK. You will need to show this to receive student discounts, access areas of campus and when submitting work to your department. This is only valid for the time you study.
National Vocational Qualification: a work-based qualification that assesses competency to do a particular job. It is based on UK national standards.
Office for Fair Access
Office for Standards in Education
Degree without honours, which is awarded to someone who only just fails to pass
Overseas Student Health Cover: a form of medical insurance which an international student must have, covering their whole study period. Australia offers OSHC as a special system of health care cover for international students.
You may be required to register your stay in the UK at the Overseas Visitors' Record Office in London (a stamp in your passport will indicate if you need to do so). You should take with you: a letter from your institution confirming your enrolment, proof of address, your passport, two photographs and a registration fee. If you are not studying in London, you will be asked to do the same process at your local police station or, in some case, via your university.
An electronic pass card to use on the London transport. You can avoid buying single tickets, and thus save money.
The term used to refer to essays, reports or any other written paperwork you submit as part of your academic coursework. Most are due at the end of each term.
Point Based System: administered in the UK to assess applicants' eligibility to be granted a student visa to study. The applicant accumulates a number of points for each fulfilled requirement.
A personal identity number that allows you access to health insurance during your studies in Sweden. These are only applicable for those studying in a programme longer than a year. You can apply for it at the civil registration authorities at your local tax office or 'Skatteverket’.
Postgraduate: may refer to degree, level or student.
Postgraduate Certificate of Education: postgraduate qualification that trains students in the skills required to become a teacher in the UK.
Doctor of Philosophy: a postgraduate qualification. Despite the name, this qualification is not limited to the field of philosophy.
Personal Identification Number: a four-digit number which you use to access money in your bank account from cash or ATM machines. You will also need to know this number to verify your identity as the card or account-holder when requesting other services from your bank.
These programmes provide international students with a direct path to various postgraduate degrees. They help sharpen academic and language skills to meet the required standard.
Also known as 'pre-sessional courses', these short programmes help those who have been accepted for English language courses, to improve their language skills
A scholarly individual who teaches a university course, by leading lectures and seminars. Most have an extensive background in the subject they teach, and may be conducting their own research or producing a piece of work at the same time. The term 'Professor' is also how you may address them.
These are commonly used by employers to cut down the number of suitable candidates in the selection process.
Pearson English Test
Like a bus pass you would use on the bus, this is a premium I.D. you can buy which allows you to travel on the train at a discounted rate. There are several different railcards available for individuals depending on different criteria. For example, a 'Young Person's Railcard' is applicable for anyone aged 16-25, and gives you 30% off all rail fares for a year (there is an annual fee of around £28).
Royal College of Midwives: the UK's only professional organisation and trade union for midwives.
Schemes where graduates are semi-employed by a university to assist in ongoing research. In return, they receive some financial reward, as well as working experience within the field (and a potential avenue to find full-time employment). Research Assistantships are usually found in science-based fields, but can also include Humanities subjects. While graduates are usually the most popular recipients, research assistantships can be open to anyone with some higher degree achievement in a relevant field.
Royal Institute of British Architects
The Russell group is a collection of 20 universities that are renowned for the quality of their research. They are also characterised by outstanding teaching standards and are set up to have good links with businesses and the public sector.
Student Awards Agency for Scotland
A standardised test which is essential for entry to most undergraduate programs in the US. Originally the test stood for Scholastic Aptitude Test, and then later Scholastic Assessment Test; but today it has no fixed definition and is simply referred to by the acronym.
The Schengen Area operates as a single international travel and immigration area among 26 countries with no border controls for people travelling between them; there are only external border controls for those travelling in and out of the area.
Depending on the country you are from, you may be required to apply for a separate visa if you wish to go to Europe for short breaks. See ‘Schengen Area’.
Financial award which depends mainly on academic excellence.
Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework
Fourth year undergraduate students
Student and Exchange Visitor Information System: the system which stores information about incoming international students and exchange visitors, and their legal eligibility to be in the country. Information about their schools, dependents and sponsors is also stored here. All of this information may be checked by border agents on entering the country. SEVIS enables schools and sponsors to transmit mandatory information and event notifications online to the DHS and Department of State (DOS) throughout a student or exchange visitor's stay in the US. It is accessible online and administered by the SEVP.
Student and Exchange Visitor Program: body which helps the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State better monitor institutions, exchange programmes and international students. They administer SEVIS which monitors activity and stores information about an individual's eligibility to be in the country.
Swedish For Immigrants: free courses that are provided by the Swedish National Agency for Education.
Shanghai Jiao Tong University (also known as ARWU): refers to the annual university rankings they produce, covering 6 indicators ranging from teaching and research, to student experience.
Scottish Qualifications Agency
Social Security Number. This is a personal identification number. Every American citizen is required to have one due to tax reasons. International students can request a temporary number in order to work.
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math sciences: an acronym for these collective fields. Various programmes to promote these areas have been launched by the US government.
Streamlined Visa Processing: this allows faster, easier visa access for international students applying to most universities and partner programmes.
A new series of examinations which measure Swedish language competency for non-native speakers. Funded in part by the European Commission, the standardised examinations are conducted regularly in Sweden and throughout Europe.
The list of topics, subjects and areas that are covered by a specific course, qualification or programme.
A chain of stores which sell alcohol, and are owned by the government. While the limit to buy alcohol in a restaurant or bar is 18 years old, to buy from a Systembolaget you have to be 20 years old.
Technical And Further Education: institutions of this kind offer vocational tertiary courses including fields such as finance and hospitality. These institutions are funded by state and territory governments.
Similar to a Research Assistantship, but specifically in the field of Teaching at university level. These are full or part-funded placements whereby those interested in joining the profession, can gain experience in a real environment. Tasks may include teaching undergraduate courses, grading papers and compiling biographies. This may also be a useful route to pursuing a Doctoral degree.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language: training courses for those that wish to teach English to others.
Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages: training courses for those that wish to teach English to speakers of other languages. Akin to ‘TEFL’ courses, but the distinction was made in Australia for the purpose of clarity.
Transport for London: comprises all information about public transport in London, including routes, timetables, journey planners and latest news.
Tax File Number: a number which should be obtained at the Australian Tax Office if you plan to work in Australia (you may also need a TFN to open a bank account). As well as your name, current address and date of birth, you may also need to supply your date of arrival in Australia, your passport and proof of enrolment.
The Times Higher Education Rankings are one of the most acclaimed and consulted university league tables in the world. The list ranks universities across the globe, based on 13 performance indicators. They not only help guide applicants themselves, but scholars, academics and the industry sector too.
Where the academic year is divided in three terms of four months each.
A category for different visa types, including students (Tier 4), workers (Tier 1 or 2), etc. Within each tier there are several visa subcategories, all with different requirements.
Test in Swedish for University Studies: the official exam of proficiency in the Swedish language. It is required to study in Sweden at university level. TISUS includes reading comprehension, oral presentation and written composition. The test fee is SEK 1,600 if taken in Sweden, or SEK 2,000 outside Sweden. The test is held several times a year, both in Sweden and at a number of Swedish embassies/schools outside the country.
Test of English as a Foreign Language: the official exam for proficiency in the English language. It is required to study a course or qualification which is taught in the English language. You must meet the requirements of the university you wish to study at; each has their own requirements which you ought to check.
Teacher Training Agency
Where the academic year is divided into two terms.
Universities and Colleges Admissions Service: the admissions service through which anyone wishing to study at a higher education level in the UK, must apply.
Undergraduate: may refer to degree, level or student.
UK Border Agency: previously the body which oversaw the enforcement of border control in the UK. In May 2013, it was announced that the UKBA would be abolished, and its work passed on to the Home Office to carry out.
UK Clinical Aptitude Test, which like the BMAT, is used by a group of UK institutions to select applicants to medical and dentistry courses. While the BMAT is used a select few universities, the UKCAT is required for entry to a larger group of institutions and is completed digitally.
UK Council for International Student Affairs: an advisory body in the UK which promotes international students and their interests; this is through the production of useful resources, monitoring government policy and more.
College institutions that provide tertiary education, but do not have full or independent university status. They will often be a part of a larger university institution.
Vocational Education and Training: refers to a form of education which prepares an individual for a specific trade or craft.
Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) system: the system which employers, banks and government services can use to check details about your visa entitlements (but only once they have your consent to do so).
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