In 2017 the Australian Government’s Higher Education Standards Panel (HESP) published recommendations on ways to improve the transparency of higher education admissions.

As part of these recommendations, universities and higher education providers have agreed to adopt a set of common terminology for providing information to prospective students about admissions processes for their courses.

SATAC will also adopt this common terminology across our publications and website for 2019 admissions.

New admissions terminology
Admission pathway Any option available to prospective higher education students that will enable them to meet the entry requirements of their chosen courses.
Adjustment factors Previously referred to as bonus points, these are additional points that may be used in combination with an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) to derive a course selection rank. Adjustments do not change your ATAR, but can enhance your selection rank for a particular course or courses. SATAC's participating institutions will continue to offer equity adjustments and subject adjustments.
Advanced standing A form of credit for any previous learning (Australian Qualifications Framework definition) – see also the definitions for “credit transfer” and “recognition of prior learning”.
Applicant and prospective student The term applicant and prospective students are used by tertiary admission centres and higher education institutions to describe people at different stages of their application processes. An applicant is generally taken to be a person who has already lodged an application to study a specific course. A prospective student is generally taken to be a person who is thinking about lodging an application to study a particular course but has not yet done so.
Bridging course A course designed to cover subject knowledge, which assists students to gain knowledge in specialist areas that are a core component of the course. If a course requires a prerequisite in an area that students have not studied or worked with before, a bridging course will help students to bridge the gap in that knowledge and gain admission. 
Credit transfer A process that provides students with agreed and consistent credit outcomes for components of a qualification based on identified equivalence in content and learning outcomes between matched qualifications (Australian Qualifications Framework definition).
Direct application  Application made directly to a higher education provider rather than through a tertiary admission centre.
Early offer Where an offer of enrolment is made to a recent secondary school student prior to release of ATARs or equivalent (e.g. OP in Queensland, IB). Such offers are generally conditional on other requirements being met, such as successful completion of a Senior Secondary Certificate of Education or achievement of a specified minimum ATAR.
Enabling Course A course designed to provide students with skills needed for success in further study, to assist in the transition to tertiary education – for example study techniques or English language skills. Successful completion helps prepare a person to be admitted to a course that leads to a higher education award.
Experience based entry scheme A selection method used by higher education providers to assess and select students who may not have educational qualifications sufficient for an offer of admission to a course but who have other relevant work and life skills and experience that make them a suitable candidate.
Offer round/s Refers to the series of dates on which offers of higher education places are issued to applicants throughout the year, whether through a tertiary admission centre or directly by a higher education provider.
Recognition of prior learning (RPL) A process used to assess an individual’s relevant prior learning (including formal, informal and non-formal learning) to determine the credit that may be granted towards completion of a qualification (adapted from Australian Qualifications Framework definition).
School recommendation A recommendation from a school or other secondary education provider on the abilities of a student. Previously referred to by some as a principal’s recommendation.
TAC application Application made through a tertiary admission centre, namely QTAC, UAC, VTAC, SATAC, TISC and University of Tasmania, in relation to applications to study in that state.

Source: Department of Education and Training. "Improving the transparency of higher education admissions: Phase two common terminology and information sets". (2017)


The Department of Education has published two Quick Reference guides for students and parents, and career advisers and schools.

Quick Reference for students and parents (383KB PDF)

Quick Reference for career advisers and schools (357KB PDF)

Further information

Information about the Admissions Transparency Implementation Working Group can be found on the Department of Education and Training website, or contact your higher education provider.

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