SCU Policy Library Glossary

The SCU Policy Library Glossary is a list of terms and their standard definitions for policies, procedures and guidelines. Unless separately defined or the context of the policy requires otherwise then the following definitions apply to each policy.

 It is expected that the glossary will be built up over time and documents will gradually be converted to incorporate standard definitions as part of the normal review process.

Click on a letter from A to Z below to view Glossary items that begin with the selected letter, or use the scroll bar located on the right hand side of this page to browse the entire list.

Return to TopA

  • Academic Advisory Committee

    Academic Advisory Committees are normally established by Schools. They act as advisory committees for courses, suites of courses, or Schools. Their role is to provide informed advice regarding academic and research matters to the relevant Head of School. Membership normally consists of student, internal and external representation.

  • Academic Board

    The body of that name appointed by the Council of the University.

  • Academic Board Appeals Committee

    The Academic Board Appeals Committee is a Committee of Academic Board and a University body that assists in assuring quality and integrity in academic outcomes for students by considering potential irregularities in academic assessment and progression processes.

  • Academic Integrity Officer

    The nominated member of staff in each Faculty, College or Special Research Centre responsible for receiving ,and where necessary investigating and reporting on, allegations of Academic Misconduct within their Faculty, College or Special Research Centre.

  • Academic Standards and Quality Committee

    The Academic Standards and Quality Committee is the principal advisory committee of the Academic Board on issues of standards and quality associated with teaching and learning at SCU.

  • Accreditation Committee

    The Accreditation Committee advises the Academic Board on matters relating to unit and course approvals and course accreditation.

  • Advanced Standing

    A form of credit for any previous learning (AQF 2013, p.92). Advanced standing is granted on the basis of previous, successfully completed studies or other recognised prior learning, and is expressed as specified or unspecified credit points towards the completion of an award.

  • Advanced Standing Precedent

    An advanced standing outcome that is made publicly available to increase the transparency of the University's advanced standing decisions.

  • Aegrotat Award

    An award granted under circumstances where a student was unable in the final study period to complete particular assessment tasks on account of death or incapacity.

  • Annual Course Report

    The report compiled annually by the Course Coordinator and is based on data from the Management Information System (MIS) and information from the Unit Reports.

  • Articulation Arrangements

    Enabling students to progress from a completed qualification to another with admission and/or credit in a defined qualification pathway' (AQF, 2013, p.92).

  • Assessment

     The process by which student academic progress is monitored and judged.

  • Assessment Task

    Any item of assessment, for example, tests, examinations, assignments, practicals, clinicals, orals and any other performances required as part of an assessment.

  • Attrition

    The proportion of students enrolled in year(x) who neither complete in year(x) or year(x + 1) nor return in year(x + 1).

    The attrition rate identifies students that neither complete a course nor are retained the following year at the same institution. Students who change institution are counted as attrition. Students who change course at the same institution are not counted as attrition.

  • Australian Law

    Australian common law, federal laws enacted by the Parliament of Australia, and laws enacted by the Parliaments of the Australian states and territories.  The Southern Cross University Act 1993 has obvious and specific relevance, being ‘An Act to establish the Southern Cross University and to provide for its constitution and functions; and for other purposes.’ The Act specifies that ‘The University is a body corporate under the name of the Southern Cross University’, and that ‘The University consists of (a) a Council, and (b) the professors and full-time members of the academic staff of the University and such other members or classes of members of the staff of the University as the by-laws may prescribe, and (c) the graduates and students of the University. 

  • Award

    A qualification achieved following successful completion of an accredited course.

Return to TopB

  • Benchmarking

    A process whereby the University or parts of the University compare themselves with other areas within the University, other institutions or parts of other institutions. This can be extensive or on a minor scale.

  • Board of Assessors

    A sub‐committee of Academic Board which meets to determine grades and ensure quality in assessment processes.

  • By-Law

    Subsidiary legislation made under the Southern Cross University Act 1993 (the Act) governing specific internal affairs of the University. The University Council is empowered to make By-laws, not inconsistent with the Act, for or with respect to any matter to be prescribed or that is necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to the Act. A By-law has no effect until it is approved by the Governor of NSW.

Return to TopC

  • Candidate

    A person admitted to the University as a student and proceeding towards an accredited award of the University.

  • Census Date

    The date prescribed in the Higher Education Support Act 2003 as the day upon which enrolment for a study period becomes fixed. Generally, a student cannot enrol or withdraw from units after census dates without financial penalties. Census dates are set for each unit of study that the University proposes to offer each year.

  • Co-requisite Unit

    A Unit which a candidate is normally required to enrol in concurrently with another specified Unit.

  • Committee of Examiners

    A sub-committee of Academic Board which meets to determine grades and ensure quality in assessment processes.

  • Commonwealth Supported Place

    A place for which the Commonwealth makes a contribution towards the cost of that place.

  • Commonwealth Supported Student

     A student who is generally required to contribute to the cost of their education through a student contribution, while the Commonwealth Government also funds part of the costs involved.

  • Community Engaged Learning (CEL)

    Contextualised experiential learning for students across a range of communities. The activity is structured, intentional and recognised by the University in order to secure directed learning outcomes for the community and the student that are both transferable and relevant. It is underpinned by the principle of experiential learning.

  • Completion

    Successfully passing all required components of a qualification.

  • Consecutive Study Periods

    The successive study periods that a student is enrolled with the University For example, where a student is enrolled in first session and third session only, these sessions are considered to be consecutive study periods. Where a student is only enrolled in Session 2 in one year and Session 2 in the following year, these sessions are considered to be consecutive study periods.

  • Course

    An approved plan of study with specific award rules leading to an award of the University.

  • Course Experience Questionnaire (CEQ)

    A national instrument for gauging graduate satisfaction with their university experience.

  • Coursework

    A non-research based course of study.

Return to TopD

  • Deferment of Study

    Official permission to delay the commencement of study in a nominated course.

  • Discipline

    Vroad field in the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED) Field of Study e.g. Natural and Physical Sciences.

Return to TopE

  • Elective Unit

    A free choice unit drawn from anywhere within the University, except as prescribed in the Specific Award Rules.

  • Enabling (bridging) Program

    A program that is provided for particular types of disadvantaged students who need preparation prior to commencing a formal award course; it is offered to students to enable them subsequently, if they so choose, to commence an award course in a student place that is funded either partially or fully by the Commonwealth. Programs which form part of a formal award course or for which credit will or may be given towards an award course are not considered to be bridging programs.

  • ESOS

    Education Services for Overseas Students.

  • Examination

    The formally invigilated examination held at the end of a study period.

  • Exemption (Unit Substitution)

    Where previous studies and/or subsequent work experience are sufficient that the student has acquired the level of knowledge expected from the study of the unit a unit substitution may be made. This means a student does not need to complete the unit as part of the award, but they must choose a replacement unit in consultation with the School/College. This is usually applied for on an individual basis.

Return to TopF

  • Field of Study

    A specific field in the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED) Field of Study; area of specialisation e.g. Mathematical Sciences. An award title would normally be at this level of detail.

    Detailed field in the ASCED Field of Study; more specific area of specialisation e.g. Mathematics.

  • Formal Learning

    The learning that takes place through a structured program of learning that leads to the full or partial achievement of an officially accredited qualification' (AQF, 2013, p.95);

Return to TopG

  • Grade Point Average (GPA)

    A simple numerical index which summarises a student's academic performance in a course in a single study period or over the duration of the student's enrolment in the course. The GPA is recorded on a student's Statement of Academic Record/Transcript and Notification of Assessment.

    The GPA is calculated as:

    a. Sum of (Grade Point x Credit Points) / Sum of (Credit Points)
    b. Grade points are assigned to graded units where High Distinction = 7, Distinction = 6, Credit = 5, Pass = 4, 3, Fail = 0. Non-graded units, interim notations and advanced standing are not included in grade point average calculations.

  • Guideline

    Non-mandatory approaches to the implementation of Rules, Policies or Procedures.  Guidelines provide flexible “good practice” recommendations and advice to assist those responsible for implementing By-Laws, Rules, Policies, or Procedures and may include codes of conduct guiding behaviour. 

Return to TopH

  • Higher Degrees Research Committee (HDRC)

    The Higher Degrees Research Committee is a committee of the Academic Board responsible for Higher Degree Research training across the University.

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  • Informal Learning

    "Learning gained through work, social, family, hobby or leisure activities and experiences. Unlike formal or non-formal learning, informal learning is not organised or externally structured in terms of objectives, time or learning support" (AQF, 2013, p.96).

  • Information Literacy

    An understanding and set of abilities enabling individuals to recognise when information is needed and have the capacity to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information. (American Library Association, 1989).

Return to TopM

  • Major

    will consist of 8 units and will be one of the following two types — Specialist (S) and University-wide (U).

    Specialist major:

    i. comprises 8 units to be chosen from a maximum of 12
    ii. builds on the core, i.e. pre-requisites come from the core
    iii. may enable pathways through the major through requisites contained within the major
    iv. does not include independent studies units
    v. only includes viable units
    vi. is built by the specialist School/College to suit the needs of the specialist degree that it is part of 15
    vii. can include units from other School/Colleges, with consultation
    viii. will be named and approved by Academic Board.

    A university-wide major:

    i. comprises 8 units to be chosen from a maximum of 14
    ii. is self-contained and does not require entry pre-requisites although pathways through the major can be constructed through requisites (if required) contained within the major
    iii. does not include independent studies units
    iv only includes viable units
    v. exists independently of a specific award
    vi. can be constructed by a School/College or combination of such but one School/College must be responsible for the approval and management of the major
    vii. will be the same regardless of the degree undertaken
    viii. will be approved by academic board as available across the university for inclusion in a range of UG degrees
    ix. university-wide majors will be listed in the student handbook.

  • Minor

     A sequence of units in an undergraduate degree which comprises 48 credit points (4 units) and is not named on the testamur.

Return to TopN

  • National Code

    The National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018.

  • Non Formal Learning

    Learning that takes place through a structured program of learning but does not lead to an officially accredited qualification' (AQF, 2013, p. 98).

Return to TopP

  • Peer Review

    A systematic process whereby academics review and improve teaching, curriculum and assessment practices. It is an iterative collegial process that aims to increase visibility and accountability in decision-making about teaching and student learning.

  • Placement

    A type of Community Engaged Learning that requires the student to be situated in a community setting outside of the University. This may be termed Work Integrated Learning and can take the form of internship, practicum, industry placement or fieldwork.

  • Policy

    A mandatory statement of principle guiding the University’s operations and decision making, which has University-wide application, and which has been established by a resolution or other decision of the Council, Vice-Chancellor, Academic Board or another delegated authority.  A schedule or other document appended to a policy forms part of that policy. Adherence to Policy is mandatory.

  • Postgraduate

    A course of study that leads to one or more of the following higher education awards: graduate certificate, graduate diploma, masters degree, doctoral degree.

  • Pre-requisite Unit

    A Unit which a candidate must have successfully completed before enrolling in another specified unit.

  • Primary Specialisation

    Within postgraduate and undergraduate education awards, a primary specialisation may be indicated. A Primary Specialisation:

    a. will be in a curriculum area;
    b. will be built by the School of Education to suit the needs of the award of which it is a part, in line with requirements from external accreditation bodies; and
    c. will be named on the award's testamur.

  • Prize

     A reward provided to a student in recognition of the completion of a distinguished piece of work.

  • Procedure

    A mandatory statement of the University’s standard and required practice, authorised by a delegated authority, which prescribes actions to designated persons in order to implement and comply with a By-Law, Rule or Policy and meet its intent. Adherence to Procedure is mandatory.

Return to TopR

  • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

    An assessment process that involves assessment of relevant prior learning (including formal, informal and non-formal learning) (National Quality Council Training Packages Glossary) (AQF, 2013, p.99).

  • Research Committee

    The Research Committee of Academic Board is the principal advisory committee of the Academic Board on issues of research across the University.

  • Rule

    A formal statement of the conditions which must apply to the conduct of key aspects of the University's operation. A Rule (a) has the same force and effect as a by-law, and (b) may, from time to time, be amended or repealed by the Council (whether or not the Council is empowered to make such a rule), or by the authority or officer of the University for the time being empowered to make such a rule, and (c) takes effect on the day on which it is published or on such later day as may be specified in the rule, and (d) must indicate the authority or officer who made the rule and that it is made under section 30 of the SCU Act 1993.  Rules may include penalties for non-compliance with the governing By-law.  A Schedule or other document appended to a Rule forms part of that Rule.

Return to TopS

  • Schedule of Units

    The table of units annexed to and forming part of Specific Award Rules.

  • School Board

    A body of that name which is a sub‐committee of Academic Board. All references to a School Board should be read additionally as references to a College Board.

  • Special Consideration

    Consideration for extension or variation of deadlines for assessment tasks, for a special Examination, or for consideration related to a completed assessment task.

  • Special Examination

    An Examination offered in lieu of the normal Examination.

  • Specialisation

    Within postgraduate awards, means a specialisation may be indicated. A specialisation:

    a. will be comprised of a minimum of four (4) units and normally a maximum of eight (8) units;
    b. will build upon core units in the award, i.e. pre-requisites come from within the award;
    c. will be built by the School or College to suit the needs of the award of which it is a part;
    d. can include units from other Schools or Colleges with consultation;
    e. will be named and approved by Academic Board; and
    f. will be named on the award's testamur.


  • Stream

    An approved combination of units in a defined discipline area that describes a path to further study and which is not considered a core, major or minor. A stream:

    a. will generally only be used in AQF 5 or AQF 6 awards;
    b. may include the award's core units and a combination of elective units;
    c. can include units from other Schools or Colleges;
    d. will be named and approved by Academic Board.

  • Student

    A person enrolled as a candidate in a course leading to an accredited award of the University, or in units which do not lead to an accredited award of the University.

  • Student History

    The internal record of grades and advanced standing awarded to a specific student by the University.

  • Study Period

     A session in the three session academic calendar, or a study period in the six study period academic calendar, or any other period as designated by the Academic Board.

  • Study Plan

    An approved program of study leading to the completion of an award course.

Return to TopT

  • Testamur

    The document awarded to a student upon graduation which includes the name of the award and any accredited majors listed.

  • Transcript

    The final record of grades and advanced standing awarded to a specific student by the University.

Return to TopU

  • Undergraduate

    A course of study that is neither an enabling course nor a postgraduate course of study.

  • Unit

    A discrete component of an award course; units are identified by a title and code number.

  • Unit Assessor

    The academic staff member, designated by the Head of the relevant School/College, responsible for ensuring that the assessment process for a unit is implemented and completed.

  • Unit Information Guide

    A document describing the context, aims, objectives, content, assessment and materials requirements for a unit. It is provided to a student at the commencement of the teaching period in which the unit is being offered. It must be in accordance with University policy and Rules.

  • Unit Performance Reports

    a. Individual Unit Performance Report
    b. This MIS report provides an overall snapshot across all locations of how a particular unit is performing in the chosen year, study period and location with respect to unit status (including attrition), grade distribution and overall student satisfaction including comparative data.
    c. Individual Unit Performance (Trend Analysis) Report
    c. This MIS report provides a trend analysis of a chosen unit to see how it has performed over time (in the past offerings) compared against the university mean for each measure. Data are represented to track performance over time by unit Status, grade results and overall satisfaction mean Unit Report

  • Unit Report

    The report completed by the Unit Assessor at the end of each teaching period in which the unit has been offered. The report is provided no later than three weeks into the following teaching period to the relevant Course Coordinator. The Unit Reports provide information for the annual course report (as further described in the Unit Report Template).