Our glossary will help you understand the terms we use on our website and throughout the University.

Look for the term you're unsure of; they're listed alphabetically, below.

A - C


Academics – The people who teach and undertake research at the University. Examples of titles of academic staff are professor, associate professor or lecturer.

Academic Calendar – A calendar of key dates at the University. There are two academic calendars – one for higher education and one for vocational and further education.

Academic dress – The official gowns worn by graduates.

Admission(s) – The process through which students enter university. The 'Admissions' team is responsible for this process.

Advanced standing – An assessment process that offers credit towards a course in recognition of equivalent prior study or work experience. (See also credit and recognition of prior learning.)

Airport reception – A service provided for international students arriving at both Melbourne Airport and Avalon Airports.

AlumniAlumni are graduates of the University.

Articulation – The process of getting credit for subjects completed through a course when moving from TAFE to university.

Assessment – A piece of work which is graded.

Assessment criteria – A basis for deciding how marks are awarded for an assessment or subject.

Assessment level – The Department of Home Affairs' classification assigned to each student visa application, determined by the student's passport and the education sector in which the student will study. Assessment levels are categorised as a low to high immigration risk.

ATAR (Australia Tertiary Admission Rank) – Score that indicates how a student has performed in Year 12 compared to their peers, based on their VCE subject scores. Used to help universities and TAFE institutes select their students. Only some courses at VU use the ATAR as a basis for admission.

Austudy – A Centrelink payment available to eligible students.


Bachelor degree – Undergraduate academic qualification awarded on completion of a university course lasting three to six years. Titles of bachelor degrees are often abbreviated; for example, BA stands for Bachelor of Arts, BSc means a Bachelor of Science, and BEng means a Bachelor of Engineering. (See also undergraduate.)

Blended learning – See interactive e-learning.

Block – A four-week period in which one unit of study is delivered in the VU Block Model®.

Breadth minor – A minor (secondary focus area) with units in a different discipline from the student's major. (See minor and major.)

Burst mode – A course that runs for a shorter period of time, but with more-intensive hours.


Campus – The grounds in which the University is situated. Victoria University has 11 campuses and sites in Melbourne's central business district and across the western suburbs. We also have a campus in Sydney.

Census date – The date on which higher education student enrolment details must be finalised for each semester. Students enrolled in Commonwealth-supported units after the census date will be liable to pay student contribution/tuition fees and incur a HECS-HELP/FEE-HELP debt if a loan has been requested.

Central business district (CBD) – The centre of the city.

CHESSN – All Commonwealth-supported students are allocated a Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN). The CHESSN is a unique ten digit number used by higher education providers to communicate with the Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) to provide information about Student Learning Entitlement (SLE), HECS-HELP assistance and other forms of Commonwealth assistance for higher education students. For further information on how to obtain your CHESSN and the information you can access with it, visit Study Assist – Keeping track of your HELP debt.

Class - Non-lab face-to-face teaching sessions.

Clubs and Societies – Social, cultural or sporting clubs run by students for students through VU.

CollegesThe Colleges are organisational structures focusing on particular disciplines, professions and industries. Previously known as faculties, they reflect the distinctive academic specialisations and areas of excellence across Higher Education and TAFE.

Confirmation of Appropriate Accommodation and Welfare (CAAW) – An approved accommodation and welfare assessment letter given to students under 18 years of age by the Department of Home Affairs. See more about Welfare arrangements for students under 18.

CoE – A Confirmation of Enrolment document is issued by the university after the offer of a place is accepted. This document must be submitted with an international student visa application.

Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) – An Australian Government register that lists all Australian education providers and the courses that are available in Australia to people holding student visas.

Commonwealth supported place (CSP) – A place at an Australian university where the government pays part of the fees as a subsidy. Citizenship and residency criteria apply for eligibility. The subsidy does not cover the entire cost of study, and the remainder is paid as fees (either up front or by loan).

Complementary activities – Mandatory extension and support in the VU Block Model® that includes mentoring, academic development, and career advice.

Core unit – Compulsory subject that you must complete as part of your course.

Counselling – Talk therapy with a specialist. At VU, counselling support can cover a wide range of personal or study-related issues. To find out more about this free service, visit the Counselling Services page.

Course – A course is a sequence of subjects which make up a degree or diploma.

Course chair (previously known as course coordinator) – The staff member who oversees a particular course.

Course requirements – Elements needed to apply for a course. Prerequisites and extra requirements are 'course requirements'. Prerequisites refer to subjects and study scores. Extra requirements may include additional forms, interviews, folios and auditions.

Credit – The recognition for having completed a unit, used to determine if enough study has been completed for graduation. Credit may be granted for prior learning or work experience equivalent to a course unit. (See also advanced standing and recognition of prior learning.)

Credit transfer – Exemptions from parts of the new course for unit/s already studied. A credit transfer may apply when switching from one course to another. The existence of a credit transfer arrangement between two courses does not mean that students can automatically move from one course into another. Students must apply for, and secure a place in a course before application for credit transfer can be made. (See also credit.)

CSP – see Commonwealth supported place

D - F


Dean – The head of a College.

Deferment – A pause in study (break from a course). Victoria University guarantees a one year deferment for all commencing students in higher education and TAFE. This is a guaranteed deferment from the University, not all courses will be available for students commencing in subsequent years. Should this occur, the University will negotiate alternative study options.

Degree – A set course of undergraduate or postgraduate study.

Delivery mode – The way the course is taught. At VU this includes in person, online real-time, online self-paced, and hybrid modes. VU Polytechnic modes include face to face, online and workplace delivery. See more about the new delivery modes. (See also in person, online real-time, online self-paced, hybrid, face to face, remote, burst and blended learning.)

Department of Education – The government department responsible for education in Australia. It governs programs and policy relating education in Australian that includes higher education, academic research and international education.

Department of Employment and Workplace Relations – The government department responsible for employment in Australia. It governs programs and policy relating to employment and ensuring work is safe, fair and productive.

Department of Home Affairs – The government department responsible for coordinating the entry and settlement of people into Australia.

Disability – Any physical or intellectual difference that causes issues in daily activities. The University provides a range of services and assistance for students with a disability or ongoing medical condition.

Domestic student – You are considered a domestic student, and are subject to domestic course tuition fees, if you:

  • are an Australian or New Zealand citizen, or
  • are an Australian permanent resident, or
  • hold a permanent Australian humanitarian visa.


eCoE – Electronic Confirmation of Enrolment. (See CoE.)

EFTSL – Equivalent Full Time Student Load; a measure of the study load for one year for a student undertaking a course on a full-time basis.

Email – Every student should activate their free university-based email address.

English Language Institute (ELI) – The old name for a division of Victoria University that delivers our English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) programs. Now known as VU English.

Enrolment – Period in which students must finalise subject choices and pay fees at the beginning of each academic year (see enrolment period).

Enrolment confirmation – A statement of the subjects enrolled in for the semester/ year with their point weightings.

Education provider – An organisation that delivers educational services that is recognised by the Australian Government.

Exchange – Incoming or outgoing students studying at any recognised exchange partner institution for one semester or one full academic year are considered to be on exchange. Students from exchange partner institutions pay tuition fees to their home institution as part of their course or program. Credit for studies is applied to their home institution's course or program.

Exchange partner institution – A university or college that has a recognised exchange agreement with Victoria University.


Faculty – A term used to describe divisions of a university. At the end of 2012, the faculty structure was replaced by a new structure of colleges made up of higher education and TAFE academic areas joined by area of specialisation.

Face to face (VU Polytechnic delivery mode) – Classes, learning and assessment are delivered with a teacher either on campus or in a virtual classroom.

Fees – Students pay a range of course fees depending on whether they are a local or international student, undergraduate or graduate, or in a fee-paying course or Commonwealth-supported course.

First Year Model – A learning model originally available to only first year students at VU that has now been introduced to all years; see VU Block Model®.

Full fee paying place – Student places for which the University doesn't receive any government funding, and students pay the full cost of their course.

G - O


Graduate diploma – A graduate diploma is a specialised postgraduate qualification which can be completed following a related undergraduate degree. Graduate diplomas are usually one to two years in length.

Graduation – Following successful completion of a course, students attend a graduation ceremony where their degree is conferred upon them.

Guardian – A person who is legally responsible for a student under 18 years of age.


HECS HELP – This is a loan available to eligible students enrolled in Commonwealth-supported places. A HECS-HELP loan will cover all or part of the student contribution amount of your fees. If you receive a HECS-HELP loan, the Australian Government pays the loan amount directly to your higher education provider on your behalf. A HECS-HELP debt is recorded for you with the Australian Tax Office against your Tax File Number.

Higher education – Post-Australian Year 12 or equivalent studies leading to awards including bachelor degrees, graduate certificates, graduate diploma, masters degrees and doctorates.

Host – A returning student who volunteers their time for assist with the orientation of first year students.

Hybrid (delivery mode) – Part of your unit will be delivered in person on the campus you have enrolled in, with the remainder delivered in an online mode. The timetable will state which classes or activities in the unit will be delivered on campus and which classes or activities will be online, in either real-time or self-paced mode.


ID number – The student identification number printed on your student card. You keep the same ID number throughout your studies at VU.

Incoming students – Study Abroad or Exchange students who travel to Melbourne to complete a semester of study at VU. Credit for studies at VU is applied to their home institution's course or program.

In person (delivery mode) – Your unit or classes will be delivered on the campus you have enrolled in. The timetable will display “On Campus” and provide the room where the classes will be held and you will physically attend those classes. All learning activity delivered on campus will continue to be run under strict COVID-19 safe practices.

Intake – The students taken into the University at a particular time, for example at the start of a semester or block.

Interactive e-learning – A learning model where studies are undertaken through online delivery of content and instruction, and face-to-face classroom teaching (previously referred to as blended learning).

International education agent – An offshore educational representative of VU who is authorised to recruit international students to VU on our behalf.

International Baccalaureate (IB) – An internationally recognised two-year secondary-school program that is aimed at students of 16 – 19 years of age to help prepare them for university.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) – An internationally recognised and standardised test that evaluates a person's English language proficiency.

International partner campuses – An education institution located outside of Melbourne which has been approved to deliver VU courses on their campuses.

International student – A student who travels from another country to study at VU in Melbourne or who attends classes overseas at a partner institution. Students from more than 30 countries study at our onshore campuses, and at partner institutions across Asia, including Singapore, Malaysia, China, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and India.

You are considered an international student, and are subject to international full-fee tuition, if you:

  • are not an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and
  • do not hold a permanent Australian humanitarian visa, and
  • are not a New Zealand citizen, and
  • hold a temporary visa.

International Student Support (ISS) – A part of VU that offers assistance and advice to all our international students.


Lab - Laboratory and/or practicals associated with a unit.

Leave of absence – Sometimes called an 'intermission', students may apply to stop studying for a duration without losing their place in their course. Leave of absence applications must be approved by an authorised college officer. Applications will only be considered if students have completed at least one semester of their course and satisfactory progress has been determined.

Lecture – Large, formal classes in which lecturers present course material to all students enrolled in a given subject.

Libraries – The University has library branches available to students on all campuses. Visit our Library page for information on operating times, locations and other services.

LOTE – This acronym means languages other than English.


Major – The subject area that you will specialise in during your degree, comprising a set of units within a particular discipline. For example, a business degree has majors such as marketing and banking & finance. At Victoria University a major is made up of 96 credit points (equivalent to 8 units). (See also minor and specialisation.)

Minor – A subject area that is the second focus of a degree, comprising a smaller set of units than a major within a particular discipline. At Victoria University a minor is made up of 48 credit points (equivalent to 4 units). (See also breadth minor, major and specialisation.)


Offer – An invitation to study at a university, sent to you when you have been accepted into a course. The offer may have conditions that need to be met before you can enrol; these vary according to the entry requirements of the course. Once you accept an offer, you are committed to undertaking the course.

Offering – Combination of days and sessions scheduled for each unit in the VU Block Model®.

Online real-time (delivery mode) – Your unit or classes will be delivered online using Zoom. The timetable will display “Online Real Time (ZOOM)” and you will attend scheduled classes remotely through Zoom classrooms.

Online self-paced (delivery mode) – You will participate in learning activities online over that period but not at a set time. You will be able to conduct these activities at a time that suits you, providing those activities are completed by the required time. Your timetable will display “Online Self-Paced”.

Open day – An open day is held each year on a Sunday in August, and is a chance for prospective students to find out more about the courses and services and campuses at VU.

Orientation – The process of welcoming new students to the university. During orientation you will be introduced to your campus, receive an overview of your course, meet teaching staff, fellow students and most importantly, have fun! We encourage all new students to attend orientation – it is a great opportunity to meet lots of new people, become familiar with your campus and learn more about your course.

P - S


Pathway – a general term to describe a link between a departure and destination course that enables students to undertake a sequence of courses.

Postgraduate – A level of university study such as a masters or PhD usually undertaken after graduating from a bachelor degree. (See also undergraduate.)

Practical session – A class in which practical experiments or exercises are conducted under supervision.

Prerequisites – Subjects that need to be completed before you can enter certain vocational education or higher education courses.

Principal course – Usually the highest qualification that you are permitted to study on your CoE, or the last qualification in a package of courses.


Quota – The number of places available in a course.


Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)RPL or Recognition of Current Competency (RCC) is an assessment process that applies to individuals who may have prior study, or relevant experience, but who do not have access to credit transfer arrangements for their chosen course. (See also credit and advanced standing.)

Registered provider – An educational institution (such as VU) that is registered to provide education. See all registered providers on the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency's National Register or the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS).

Remote learning – Learning undertaken away from campus, made essential during 2020's lockdowns. This can include online classes and self-directed activities.


School age dependants – Family members aged between 5 and 18 years.

Scholarship – A grant or payment made to support a student's education, awarded on academic achievement or to alleviate hardship.

Semester – There are two 12-week higher-education semesters in each academic year.

Sequence – The order in which units are taken throughout the semester, depending on prerequisites.

Sessions – The VU Block Model® is taught in 'sessions' of two to three hours. These include periods of teaching, labs, and practicum learning.

Special consideration – Students whose performance at an examination is seriously affected by illness or other special causes can submit a Special Consideration Application. Applications must be submitted to your college office within three working days of the date of your examination.

Specialisation – Available in certain courses only, a specialisation lets you focus on an particular area of study that interests you within a major. At Victoria University a specialisation is made up of 48 credit points (equivalent to 4 units). (See also major and minor.)

Student identification card – This car carries your photograph and VU student identification number. Replacements for lost cards are available at Student Service Centres for a fee.

Student learning entitlement (SLE) – The student learning entitlement (SLE) system was used to measure the timeframe that an eligible student could be enrolled in a Commonwealth supported place. SLE has been abolished from 1 January 2012. There is no longer a limit on the amount study a person can undertake as a Commonwealth support student.

Student lounge – An area on campus for students to relax, meet friends, or pick up useful information.

Study area – Discipline grouping of courses, such as business or education.

Swot Vac – The period before exams when there are no classes scheduled, which enables students to prepare for exams.

T - Z


TAFE (Technical and Further Education) – Government-owned providers of Vocational Education and Training courses, which focus on providing practical skills for work. TAFE education at Victoria University is provided by VU Polytechnic.

Transfer – Students can apply to move from one course to another within the University.

Tutorial or 'tute' – Usually less formal than a lecture, tutes are small classes where material from lectures and readings can be discussed in more detail.


Undergraduate – A level of university study usually undertaken prior to your first graduation, such as a diploma or bachelor degree. (See also postgraduate.)

Unique Student Identifier – Every tertiary education and training student needs a USI to apply for Commonwealth financial assistance. From 1 January 2023, every student will need a USI to graduate and attain their award.

Unit of study – A term used for individual subjects. Each course is made up of a number of units of study.

University Council – The governing body of the University.


VCAL (Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning) – This is an alternative to the standard VCE. The VCAL focuses on hands-on learning and vocational education.

VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education) – The VCE is awarded to students who successfully complete their secondary education in Victoria. It is recognised internationally, and provides pathways to employment and to further study at university or TAFE.

VET – See Vocational Education and Training

VETiS (Vocational Education and Training in Schools) – VETiS courses can be completed by students in Years 10, 11 and 12 and are counted towards their ATAR. Completion of a VETiS course provides a qualification or partial completion of a Certificate II or III. (See also Vocational Education and Training.)

Vice-Chancellor – The most senior administrative staff member of the University. The current Vice-Chancellor is Professor Adam Shoemaker.

VTAC (Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre) – VTAC processes applications for degree courses and many TAFE courses. VTAC provides a link between universities, TAFE institutes and independent tertiary colleges. VTAC does not select applicants for courses.

Vocational Education and Training (VET) – Courses that focus on providing practical skills for work. At VU, our vocational education is delivered by VU Polytechnic, our TAFE division. (See also TAFE.)

VU Block Model® – Our study is delivered in single-unit blocks. Each unit is studied within four weeks, so students complete one unit at a time, including all assessment, before moving onto the next. In some cases, two full-time units (or one part-time) are delivered over eight weeks.

VU English – A division of Victoria University that delivers English language courses to international students. We offer English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) programs. You may have heard us referred to by our previous name of English Language Institute (ELI).

VU Guaranteed – Year 12 students in Melbourne’s west can apply for courses through our new early offer program, VU Guaranteed. You will be guaranteed a place at Victoria University.

VUHQ – The student service centre at Victoria University, which provides information, assistance and advice.

VUSU – The Victoria University Student Union, which represents and supports all VU students.

VUPA – Victoria University Postgraduate Association


Youth Allowance – A Centrelink payment for eligible students under 25.