ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) — formerly called ENTER. The ATAR is a number that indicates a student's position in relation to their Year 7 cohort. The ATAR is calculated for institutions to rank and select school leavers for admission to tertiary courses. The ATAR is used across all states and territories except for Queensland, which uses the Overall Position (OP).
Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) — The AQF is a unified national system of qualifications covering the secondary, VET and higher education sectors. It sets a national standard for awards from the senior secondary certificate of education through to the PhD and was designed to make it easier to move between states and institutions or on to a higher qualification.
Articulate - Where a qualification leads into a higher course with advanced standing. For example, a diploma of accounting may articulate into the second year of an accounting bachelor degree.
Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) — A government-subsidised higher education place. Students with a CSP make a partial contribution towards the cost of their education based on their field of study. Note: from 2009, all new domestic undergraduates at public universities will receive a CSP.
Cut-off — The minimum tertiary entrance score you will need to gain entry to a course.
Distance/external — A method of course delivery where students study off campus using hard copy or online materials.
Equivalent Full-Time Study Load (EFTSL) — EFTSL is a measure of your study load. One EFTLS is a standard year of full-time study. If you are studying half the units of a full-time student, your EFTSL is 0.5. EFTSL is used to calculate Student Learning Entitlements (SLE) and to determine student contribution amounts and full tuition fees. You may also need to maintain a certain EFTSL to be eligible for student allowances.
English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) — An intensive program for overseas students to improve their English before commencing formal studies. The National ELICOS Accreditation Scheme (NEAS) maintains the high standard of Australia’s ELICOS courses.
English as a Second Language (ESL) — Describes a student whose first language is not English or a program, course, stream or class designed for such a student.
FEE-HELP — A Commonwealth loan programme available to eligible full-fee paying students to help pay part or all of their tuition fees for higher education courses at eligible public and private higher education providers. Australian citizens, holders of permanent humanitarian visas and overseas-trained professionals undertaking bridging courses are eligible for FEE-HELP.
Flexible delivery — Offering students a range of course delivery options.
Foundation studies — A course designed to prepare students who do not meet standard entry requirements for admission to a higher education course, sometimes with credit.
Full-fee places — A higher education place for which the student is charged the entire cost. Most places at private providers (and all places for international students) are full fee. Note: full-fee places for domestic students at public universities will be phased out from 2009.
HECS-HELP — A Commonwealth loan programme available to eligible students enrolled in Commonwealth Supported Places (CSP). The loan covers all or part of the student contribution amount. The government pays the loan amount directly to the higher education provider on behalf of the student. The debt is repaid once the graduate’s income has reached a certain threshold.
Higher education — Post-secondary education that includes bachelor degrees, postgraduate programs and some diplomas and advanced diplomas. It does not include Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses. Higher education is offered through universities, private colleges, and some TAFE institutes. Traditionally, higher education is more theory oriented while VET is skills based, although this is not always the case.
International English Language Testing System (IELTS) — A test designed to assess the language ability of overseas students who want to study at university level in Australia.
Mixed-mode — A combination of course delivery methods. For example, students may study most of their subjects online but attend classes on campus one night a week.
Part-time block — A method of course delivery where students study in short, intensive bursts – for example, 9-5 on weekends or during a fortnight-long residential program.
Pathways — Different ways of entering a course or occupation. Most courses accept students from a variety of pathways such as foundation programs, directly from school, or via a course lower on the qualifications ladder (see below).
Qualifications ladder — A progressive set of qualifications set out in the AQF (see above). Students can move up the qualifications ladder by completing a qualification on one of the lower rungs (such as a certificate or diploma) then moving up to the next level (such as an advanced diploma or degree) often with substantial credit.
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) — A process for assessing and formally recognising a student’s existing skills and knowledge. These skills may have been obtained through formal or informal training, work experience, voluntary work or life experience. The skills and knowledge recognised may assist with entry or provide a student with credit towards their course.
Registered Training Organisation (RTO) — An organisation accredited to deliver VET courses. An RTO may be a secondary school, TAFE institute or private company. RTOs are registered by state and territory training authorities and provide training that meets Australian Qualifications Framework requirements.
Student Learning Entitlement (SLE) — Domestic students receive an SLE of seven years full-time study in a Commonwealth Supported Place. Click here for more information.
Tertiary education — Post-secondary education. Tertiary education covers both the VET and higher education sectors.
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) — A test that measures the ability of candidates to understand and use English to the level that is required in a university setting.
Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) — One of two Senior Secondary Certificates of Education (SSCE) available in Victoria, with a focus on applied learning and work skills. Note that VCAL subjects do not count towards a student’s ENTER score, which is used for entry to university.
Vocational Education and Training (VET) — VET provides skills and knowledge for work through a standardised national training system. VET courses range from certificate I to advanced diploma level and are taught by Registered Training Organisations (RTO – see above). VET is generally practical, hands-on and industry focused.
VET FEE-HELP — A new student loan programme for eligible full-fee paying VET students. The programme is open to full-time or part-time students studying a diploma or advanced diploma course with an approved VET provider and covers part or all of their tuition fees. Students who access the loan will repay the amount, including a 20 per cent loan fee, through the tax system via compulsory and/or voluntary contributions.
Vocational — Applied or skills-based. See Vocational Education and Training (VET).