This Glossary aims to teach you frequrently used terminology surronding the Higher Education sector. The below definitions are listed in aphabetical order.

You can also find more detailed answeres to frequently asked questions through our FAQ.


This is a review process to determine if educational programs meet defined standards of quality. Once achieved, accreditation is not permanent, it is renewed periodically to ensure that the quality of the educational program is maintained.


An individual that has completed their studies, esp. at a college or university


An individual, that has applied to an institution and is currently in the process of completing any criteria such as interviews.


This is a type of scholarship, which you won’t have to apply for. When you applied to your course, the university will automatically consider you for their bursaries.

CAS/CAS number

CAS is short for Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies and gets issued to international students, who need to apply for a student visa to study within the UK.


Clearing is how unis and colleges fill any places they still have on their courses.

Current Student

This is an individual who is currently studying at a higher education institution. We use this term about people until they day the graduate.


Also can be referred to as registration. This is a process for new students to go through just before starting their studies. You will have to check over all your details to make sure they are correct. This is usually where you would choose your modules and pay your tuition fees (if that applies to you) and at the end you are officially a student with a university ID card. Returning students will also have to register for each year, just to confirm they are attending.

Extenuating Circumstances

Also called EC for short, this is something any student can apply for when it comes to extending an assignments deadline. This can be granted for various reasons and each institution should have their own policy regarding this.

Freshers Week

This is usually the week before teaching starts for the new intake in September. During this week a university will put on all sorts of activities and parties to attend. The aim is for students to settle in quicker by breaking the ice with others.


This is short for the International English Language Testing System, which carry out this language qualification. The IELTS are considered an equivalent to the UK’s GCSE exams and will be accepted by most universities in the country. Sometimes other qualifications are acceptable but always better to check directly, as the grades can vary too.


A lecture tends to be in big lecture halls with a large number of students present. During a lecture the professor usually is the main person to talk and present the topic of the day. In the majority of cases a lecture is non-interactive.

Personal Statement

This is part of the university applicant and is a requirement to be considered for a course. This is your chance to sell yourself to the people assessing applications. Talk about why you are passionate about this specific subject and where you would like to go after completing the course. View our How do I write a personal statement for an in depth explanation.


An individual, that is in the process of applying to a higher education institution.


Just like the personal statement this is a requirement during the application process. This is for someone, that knows you on a professional level, such as a teacher or employer, to give a short sentiment on your character and work ethic.


A seminar is a much smaller and more intimate setting compared to a lecture. The lecturer will divide the course into smaller groups to discuss the topic covered in a lecture. This usually plays out as a group discussion and is quite interactive.

Students Union

Usually shortened to SU, is an organisation that represents you as students and it tends to be separate from the university itself. Any issues you don’t feel comfortable discussing with teaching staff, you can contact the SU.


A tutorial describes a time agreed between you and your lecturer or personal tutor to discuss anything ranging from assignments, to student life to any personal issues. This 1 to 1 time tends to last between 10-30 minutes and will be scheduled during office hours, so best to check your lecturer’s availability.


The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service is the UK’s admissions service for higher education. The support young people as well as mature learners by providing information, advice and guidance. This is the UK’s main site for students to apply to an undergraduate course at a higher education institution.

UCAS points

This is how grades from UK qualifications get measured. Each grade has assigned points, which can vary between different types of qualifications. See the UCAS Tariff Calculator for more information.