Universities often use terms and words that you might not be familiar with.

We have alphabetically listed some of the most common words you'll hear and read at uni. Our glossary will help you understand what they mean.

A - C


Academics - Academics or academic staff are 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.

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

Alumni - Alumni 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) - Based on a maximum score of 99.95, an ATAR score indicates how a student has performed in Year 12 based on their VCE subject scores. It is 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 - A bachelor degree is also called an undergraduate degree, or UG for short. A bachelor degree can be designated in different ways, determined by which college the student is taking the degree. 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.

Blended learning - students undertake part of their studies through an online delivery of content and instruction, with  some control over the time, place, path or pace of that delivery. For the remainder of their learning, students have face-to-face classroom teaching.

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


Campus - The campus is 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 - This is 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) - Refers to 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. Joining clubs and societies is a great way to meet new people who share your interests.

Colleges - The Colleges are organisational structures focussing 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. The colleges deliver certificates, diplomas, degrees and doctorates as well as undertake research, consultancy and knowledge exchange.

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.

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.

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

Counselling - counselling support can cover a wide range of personal or study-related issues that may be getting in the way of your enjoyment of life or making it difficult for you concentrate on, or get the best out of your studies. 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. Direct any of your course-related queries to this person in the first instance.

Course requirements - Elements you need to be able to apply for a course you want to do. You may see the terms prerequisites and extra requirements, they are often referred to as 'course requirements'. You must meet the course requirements to be considered by course selection officers for any course. Prerequisites refer to subjects and study scores. Extra requirements may include additional forms, interviews, folios and auditions.

Credit transfer - A credit transfer may apply if you transfer from one course to another; you may receive exemptions from parts of the new course for unit/s you have already studied so you will not have to repeat units of study unnecessarily. In most cases you will be able to complete your education more quickly. The existence of a credit transfer arrangement between two courses does not mean that students can automatically move from one course into another. You must apply for, and secure a place in a course before application for credit transfer can be made.

D - F


Dean - The head of a College.

Deferment - Victoria University guarantees a one year deferment for all commencing students in higher education and TAFE. Whilst 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 with you.

Degree - A set course of undergraduate or postgraduate study.

Delivery mode - Delivery mode is the way your course is delivered, and includes in person, online real-time, online self-paced, and hybrid modes. See more about the new delivery modes and how university study works.

Department of Education - This is the Australian Government department responsible for education in Australia. This includes the governance of programmes and policy relating education in Australian that includes higher education, academic research and international education.

Department of Employment - This is the Australian Government department responsible for employment in Australia. This includes the governance of programmes and policy relating to employment and ensuring the Australian's work in safe, fair and productive workplaces.

Department of Home Affairs - This is the Australian Government department responsible for coordinating the entry and settlement of people into Australia.

Disability - 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/CoE - This is an electronic Confirmation of Enrolment/Confirmation of Enrolment document that the University issues once you have accepted your offer of a place. This document must be submitted with your student visa application.

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

Email - Electronic mail is now one of the University's main forms of communication with students and staff. 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. We are now known as VU English (as of 1 February 2013).

Enrolment - At the beginning of each academic year, there is an enrolment period in which students must finalise subject choices and pay fees.

Enrolment confirmation - A statement of the subjects that you have 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.

Exam period - The three-week period at the end of semester when exams are held.


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 seven colleges made up of higher education and TAFE academic areas joined by area of specialisation. VU was previously divided into three higher education faculties and two vocational education/further education faculties, which are broken down into smaller schools.

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.

Fee-paying course - A course which requires students to pay the full cost of the course upfront.

First Year Model - The first year of our bachelor degrees 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. This model has now been introduced to all years, and is called the VU Block Model.

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.


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.

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.


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

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.

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 eCoE, or the last qualification in a package of courses.


Quota - The number of places available in a course.


Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) - VU recognises that students gain knowledge from work and/or life experience as well as study. 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.

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)


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

Seed - Seed is a magazine published by VU students for students. Pick up a copy of Seed from your Student Service Centre, cafeteria or student lounge.

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. Application may be completed online or via a paper based form. Applications must be submitted to your college office within three working days of the date of your examination.

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. 

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

T - Z


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.


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.

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.

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.

VU Block Model - Our bachelor degrees are 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.

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.

VUSU - The Victoria University Student Union represents and supports all VU students.

VUPA - Victoria University Postgraduate Association


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