Terminology and glossary for international students applying to a UK university
On this page you will find words commonly used by universities and Higher Education Institutions.
Jargon buster A-Z
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.
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. See a list of undergraduate courses.
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.
CAS – This is your confirmation letter 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 3 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 exams or entry clearance in the UK.
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 individual entry requirements for your country on our country pages.
Foundation - A 1 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 – Student accommodation on campus. Often available for first year students. More about accommodation.
Higher Education (HE) – Study at this level is normally undertaken by students over the age of 18.
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 into his/her 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). See a list of postgraduate courses.
Online distance learning – A flexible way to study for a degree. Often used by students who are unable to attend lectures on campus. 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. Often optional. The placement is usually taken between the second and third year of study at undergraduate or between the second and third semester at postgraduate. Students who choose a placement year graduate from university with work experience as well as a degree.
Postgraduate degree – 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). See a list of postgraduate courses.
Prospectus – A document created by the University to provide students with information about the courses available. You can see all of our prospectuses and guides on our International Office pages.
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 questions.
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.
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”.
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 – Some students may be invited to attend a sponsorship interview as part of their application process. The interview will be done over Skype so you will need to ensure you have an up to date Skype ID.
Students’ Union – Most universities have a Students’ Union. They look after the students’ interests and organise events throughout the year. More about Hertfordshire Students’ Union.
Tier 4 Visa – This is the type of visa that most international students will be studying on. You need your CAS before you can apply for your Tier 4 Visa. The visa application is made up of 40 points and the CAS gives you 30 points towards your application. The other 10 points come from you proving you have the finances available to support yourself while you are studying.
Tuition fee loans – Paid directly to the university from Student Finance England. These may be available for applicants from the European Union. More about tuition fees and funding.
UCAS – University and College Admission Services. Most university applications from the European Union are made via the UCAS website. For Non-EU applicants, we advise that you make a direct application to the University.
UCAS Track – A place on the UCAS website where students can follow the progress of their university application. Visit UCAS track.
Unconditional Offer – A message 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. See a list of undergraduate courses.
Withdrawal – A message confirming that an applicant has changed their mind and no longer wishes to be considered for a course.