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We have complied a list of words, phrases and abbreviations commonly used by universities and higher education institutions.


ACL - The Alternative Collection Location code means that your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card is issued directly to the University. The University of Hertfordshire ACL is 2HE462 and this should be entered during your visa application. Read additional visa guidance.

Admissions – The admissions team at a university is responsible for processing the applications received via UCAS, from agents and direct. They will assess each application, based on the applicants' qualifications, and will decide if the university is able to offer the applicant a place on the course.

Alumni – Any person who successfully completes a university course becomes an alumnus of that university.

ATAS - Academic Technology Approval Scheme. Applies to students on certain courses, typically related to engineering. Your offer letter will list an ATAS certificate condition if this required as part of your application, and the team will then be in contact with information on how to apply. Read more about ATAS.


Bachelor’s degree – The type of undergraduate qualification students are awarded after successfully completing a 3 or 4 year university or college degree. Bachelor’s degrees have a range of titles including Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Engineering (BEng), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Education (BEd), Bachelor of Law (LLB) etc.


Campus – The buildings and land of a university. At the University of Hertfordshire, we have two main campuses - College Lane and de Havilland. We also have a smaller campus at Bayfordbury which houses our Observatory and Field Station.

Campus tour – An opportunity to visit a university and have a guide show you around the campus. You can book a campus tour on our website. If you can't get to the UK, you can enjoy our virtual experience instead.

CAS – This stands for your 'confirmation of acceptance for studies' and will be an email containing the code you need for your student visa application, to evidence that you have been accepted to study on the course. You will only be provided with a CAS once you have met all the conditions of your offer and you are within 6 months of the course start date.

Clearing – A process allowing prospective students without a university place to apply for university courses which haven’t been filled. The process takes place in August each year.

Conditional offer – The applicant will be given a place at university if certain conditions are met, for example set A-level results have to be achieved. Other conditions on offers may be the results of an IELTS exam or academic reference.

Credibility interview - See 'sponsorship interview'.


Deferral - Some students may wish to delay their offer of study to the next available intake for their programme. For example they may wish to delay their entry onto the programme by one academic year. This may be due to personal circumstances, or if they will be unable to complete their academic conditions in time for the current intake.  Current international offer holders can complete the deferral request form.

Dissertation – Large piece of work to be completed in the last year of a degree programme, focusing the student’s learning on one area.

DOB – Abbreviation used in the UK for your date of birth.


Entry requirements – The grades or qualifications a student must obtain in order to be accepted onto a university course. Entry requirements vary across universities and courses. You can find information about entry requirements on our application requirements webpage.


Foundation - A one year course which is studied before beginning an undergraduate degree. Some students may need to complete a foundation course before they can apply for an undergraduate course, depending on their highest qualifications. Our foundation provider at the University of Hertfordshire is Hertfordshire International College.


Halls of residence/halls – Student accommodation on campus. Often available for first year students. More about accommodation.

Higher Education (HE) – Studies after school and college or sixth form level. This type of education is often taught at universities or further education colleges, and courses could be research or taught. Study at this level is normally undertaken by students over the age of 18.


IELTS - The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam is a widely accepted English language test and assesses your listening, reading, writing, and speaking to generate both an overall score and a score in each individual area.

IHQ - An Immigration History Questionnaire is used to give the admissions team an idea of any visas you have applied for previously or currently hold. The team will send this to you as required, but applicants can also request this to be sent to them if there are any changes to immigration history during the application process.

IHS/Immigration Health Surcharge – This entitles you to access the NHS in the UK. This is paid as part of your online visa application and costs £776 per year for Students and their dependants from February 2024.


Justification statement – Some students may also be asked to supply a justification statement as part of their application (usually if you are applying for study at the same level that you have completed previously). If you are asked to provide this, you will be given guidance on what points to write about. A justification statement is separate to your personal statement.


Lecturer – Teacher at university. In addition to teaching, a lecturer may also carry out research in their subject area.


Master’s degree – A postgraduate qualification that students can study towards after completing their Bachelor's degree. Degree titles include Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MSc), Master of Research (MRes) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil).


Online distance learning (ODL) – Courses that are taught online instead of in-person. This means that students can enrol onto the programme from anywhere in the world and do not need to be in the UK. This type of course may be favoured by students looking to complete a degree around other commitments. More about online courses.


Personal statement – A text written by the student in support of their university application. Admissions tutors use personal statements to help identify the applicants most suited for a course. In addition to showcasing your passion for your subject area, you may also be required to satisfy the UKVI guidelines for personal statements as part of a university application.

Placement year – A year of work experience that is part of your programme. Placement years could be optional or mandatory depending on your chosen course. For undergraduate courses, the placement year is usually taken between the second and third year of the degree. For postgraduate courses, the student usually needs to select the placement option at point of application, and the placement is usually taken between the second and third semester. Students who choose a placement year graduate from university with work experience as well as a degree.

Postgraduate (PG) study – A Higher Education degree, normally undertaken after an undergraduate degree. PG awards include titles such as Master of Arts (MA) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

Prospectus – A document created by the University to provide students with information about the courses available. You can view our prospectus online.


Reference – A statement written usually by your previous education establishment which comments on your time there as a student. This should be signed, dated and presented on headed paper from the institution in question. Sometimes a work reference may be requested instead of an academic reference. In this case the statement would be written by your previous employer.


Scholarship – A grant awarded to some students to help them with the cost of going to university. Students are selected to receive a scholarship based on academic achievement or other set criteria. More about scholarships.

Sandwich degree – Generally a 4 year degree programme in which the third year is completed in an industry-related paid placement. See also 'placement'.

Self-fund – If you are paying your own tuition fees, or a family member is paying for your fees, this is called self-funded tuition.

SELT - Secure English language test.  This is a certain type of English language test, only available through certain test providers. This type of test is not required for all applicants, so you should make your course application initially using the English language evidence you currently have. If a SELT is then required, the Admissions Team will confirm this to you via email. Read more about SELT.

Semester – The University of Hertfordshire’s academic year is divided into 3 semesters, A, B and C. View terms and semester dates.

Sponsor – Some students may have an official company/organisation or their government pay towards their fees. The company is then referred to as their sponsor. A family member cannot act as a sponsor. If a family member is paying your fees for you, this is classed as self-funded tuition.

Sponsorship interview – Also referred to as a credibility interview. Some students may be invited to complete a sponsorship interview as part of their application process. The interview will be done via recorded telephone call or digital recording. You will be informed if this is required for your application. More information about sponsorship interviews.

Students’ Union – Most universities have a Students’ Union. They look after the students’ interests, offer confidential advice, societies to join and organise events throughout the year. More about Hertfordshire Students’ Union.

Student Visa - This is the type of visa that most overseas students will be studying on in the UK. You need your CAS before you can apply for your Student Visa. The visa application is made up of 70 points and the CAS gives you 50 points towards your application. Another 10 points come from you proving you have the finances available to support yourself while you are studying and the final 10 are your English Language. Read more about Student Visa guidance.


Tuition fee loans – Some students will get a loan to help pay their tuition fees. Overseas applicants may have a student loan system set up in their country, or can approach their bank to find out more. Home applicants from the UK will usually get a tuition fee student loan from Student Finance England. More about tuition fees and funding.


UCAS – University and College Admission Services. Most university applications from UK or EU students are made via the UCAS website. For Non-EU applicants, we advise that you make a direct application to the University using the help of one of our in country representatives.

UCAS Hub – A place on the UCAS website where students can follow the progress of their university application. Visit the UCAS Hub.

Unconditional Offer – An offer email, confirming that you have met all the academic requirements of your offer to study at the University.

Undergraduate degree – Also called a Bachelor's degree, this is normally the first Higher Education degree undertaken by students over the age of 18.

UKVI - UK Visas and Immigration. They are part of the UK Home Office and are responsible for making decisions on who can come to the UK.


Withdrawal – If students change their mind and no longer wish to continue with their application to university. They can request to withdraw their offer to study.