Glossary of Terms
There are certain unique terms used at university, which might not be familiar to you as a high school student from India. We provide below commonly used terms at higher education institutions in North America, UK and Germany to help you find your way through the technical terminology more easily.
- Glossary of Terms used in the U.S. Education System
Academic Adviser: Member of the faculty who helps with and advises students on academic matters. He or she may also assist students during the registration process.
Academic Year: The period of formal academic instruction, usually September to June. Depending on the institution, it may be divided into terms of varying lengths - semesters, trimesters or quarters.
Accreditation: Approval of colleges, universities and secondary schools by nationally recognized professional associations. Institutional accreditation affects the transferability of credits from one institution to another before a degree program is completed.
Advanced Placement or Advanced Standing: A waiver of some of the studies normally required for an undergraduate degree, granted to a student on the basis of prior study or experience (often as indicated by the student's performance on special examinations).
Baccalaureate Degree: The degree of "Bachelor" conferred upon graduates of most U.S. colleges and universities.
Bachelor's Degree: Degree conferred by an institution of higher learning after the student has accumulated a certain number of undergraduate credits. Usually a bachelor's degree takes four years to earn, and it is a prerequisite for studies in a graduate program.
Campus: The land on which the buildings of a college or university are located.
Class Rank: A number or ratio indicating a student's academic standing in his or her graduating class. A student who ranks first in a class of 100 students would report his or her class rank as 1/100. Class rank may also be expressed in percentiles (i.e., the top 25 percent, the lower 50 percent).
College Catalog: An official publication of a college or university giving information about academic programs, facilities (such as laboratories, dormitories, etc.), entrance requirements and student life.
Community, Technical or Junior College: An institution of higher learning that offers programs of up to two years' duration leading to an associate degree in the arts or sciences (A.A. or A.S.) or to a technical degree. Credits earned at a community or junior college are usually transferable to a four-year institution with programs leading to a Bachelor's Degree. Students on a two-year program prepare for semi-professional or technical employment. Community and or Junior colleges usually require a secondary school diploma or its equivalent for admission.
Course: Regularly scheduled class sessions of one to five (or more) hours per week during a term. A degree program is made up of a specified number of required and elective courses and varies from institution to institution. The courses offered by an institution are usually assigned a name and number ("Mathematics 101," for example) for identification purposes.
Credits: Units institutions use to record the completion of courses of instruction (with passing or higher grades) that are required for an academic degree. The catalog of a college or university defines the amounts and kinds of credits that are required for its degrees and states the value in terms of degree credit -- or "credit hours" or "credit points" -- of each course offered.
Cut: Unauthorized absence from a class.
Dean: Director or highest authority within a certain professional school or college of a university.
Degree: Diploma or title conferred by a college, university or professional school upon completion of a prescribed program of studies.
Department: Administrative subdivision of a school, college or university through which instruction in a certain field of study is given (such as English Department, History Department).
Dormitories: Housing facilities on the campus of a college or university reserved for students. A typical dormitory would include student rooms, bathrooms, common rooms and possibly a cafeteria.
Drop: See "Withdrawal." Electives: Courses that students may "elect" (choose freely) to take for credit toward their intended degree as distinguished from courses that they are required to take.
Faculty: The members of the teaching staff, and occasionally the administrative staff, of an educational institution. The faculty is responsible for designing the plans of study offered by the institution.
Fees: An amount charged by schools, in addition to tuition, to cover costs of institutional services.
Financial Aid: A general term that includes all types of money, loans and part-time jobs offered to a student. Flunk: To fail an examination or course.
Foreign Student Adviser: The person associated with a school, college or university who is in charge of providing information and guidance to foreign students in such areas as U.S. government regulations, student visas, academic regulations, social customs, language, financial or housing problems, travel plans, insurance and certain legal matters.
Freshman: A first-year student at a high school, college or university. Full-time Student: One who is enrolled in an institution and taking a full load of courses; the number of courses and hours is specified by the institution.
Grade: The evaluation of a student's academic work. Grade Point Average (GPA): A system of recording academic achievement based on an average calculated by multiplying the numerical grade received in each course by the number of credit hours studied.
Grading System: Schools, colleges and universities in the United States commonly use letter grades to indicate the quality of a student's academic performance: A (excellent), B (good), C (average), D (below average), and E or F (fail). Work rated C or above is usually required of an undergraduate student to continue his or her studies. Grades of P (pass), S (satisfactory), and N (no credit) are also used. In percentage scales, 100 percent is the highest mark, and 65-70 percent is usually the lowest passing mark.
Graduate: A student who has completed a course of study, either at the high school or college level. A graduate program at a university is a study course for students who hold a bachelor's degree.
High School: The last three or four years of the 12-year public education program in the United States.
Higher Education: Postsecondary education at colleges, universities, junior or community colleges, professional schools, technical institutes and teacher-training schools.
Institute of technology: An institution of higher education which specializes in the sciences and technology, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Junior: A third-year student at a high school, college or university. Lecture: Common method of instruction in college and university courses; a professor lectures in classes of 20 to several hundred students. Lectures may be supplemented with regular small group discussions led by teaching assistants.
Liberal Arts: A term referring to academic studies of subjects in the humanities (language, literature, philosophy, the arts), the social sciences (economics, sociology, anthropology, history, political science) and the sciences (mathematics, physics, chemistry). Also called 'liberal arts and sciences', or 'arts and sciences'.
Maintenance: Referring to the expenses of attending a college or university, including room (living quarters), board (meals), books, clothing, laundry, local transportation and miscellaneous expenses.
Major: The subject or area of studies in which students concentrate. Undergraduates usually choose a major after the first two years of general courses in the arts and sciences.
Minor: The subject or area of studies in which students concentrate their studies to a lesser extent than in their majors. Non Resident: Students who do not meet the residence requirements of the state or city that has a public college or university. Tuition fees and admissions policies may differ for residents and non-residents. Foreign students are usually classified as non-residents, and there is little possibility of changing to resident status at a later date for fee purposes. Most publicly supported institutions will not permit a foreign student to be classified as a resident student while on a student visa.
Placement Test: An examination used to test a student's academic ability in a certain field so that he or she may be placed in the appropriate courses in that field. In some cases a student may be given academic credit based on the results of a placement test.
Plan of Study: A detailed description of the course of study for which a candidate applies. The plan should incorporate the objective given in the student's 'statement of purpose'.
Prerequisites: Programs or courses that a student is required to complete before being permitted to enroll in a more advanced program or course.
President: The rector or highest administrative officer of an academic institution.
Quarter: Period of study of approximately 10 to 12 weeks' duration.
Quiz: Short written or oral test, less formal than an examination.
Recommendation, Letter of: A letter appraising an applicant's qualifications, written by a teacher, professor or employer who knows the applicant's character and work. Also called 'personal recommendation', 'personal endorsement', or 'personal reference'.
Registration: Selection of courses to be taken during a quarter, semester or trimester.
Semester: Period of study of approximately 15 to 16 weeks' duration, usually half of an academic year.
Seminar: A form of small group instruction, combining independent research and class discussions under the guidance of a professor. Seminars are usually open to undergraduate seniors and graduate students.
Senior: A fourth-year student at a high school, college or university.
Social Security Number: A number issued by the U.S. government to job-holders for payroll deductions for old age, survivors and disability insurance. Anyone who works regularly must obtain one. Many institutions use the Social Security number as a student identification number.
Sophomore: A second-year student at a high school, college or university.
Special Student: A student at a college or university who is not enrolled as a candidate for a degree.
Subjects: Courses in an academic discipline offered as part of a curriculum of an institution of higher learning.
Survey Course: A course which covers briefly the principal topics of a broad field of knowledge.
Syllabus: An outline of topics to be covered in an academic course.
Teacher's College: institution of higher learning that confers degrees, especially in teacher education, or a college within a university which offers professional preparation for teachers.
Test: Examination. Any procedure measuring the academic progress of a student.
Transcript: A certified copy of a student's educational record containing titles of courses, the number of credits and the final grades in each course. An official transcript will also state the date a degree has been conferred.
Trimester: Period of study consisting of approximately three equal terms of 16 weeks during the academic year.
Tuition: The money an institution charges for instruction and training (does not include the cost of books or supplies).
Undergraduate Studies: Two or four year programs in a college or university after high school graduation, leading to the Associate (2 years) or Bachelor's degree (4 years).
Vocational Schools: Institutions which prepare students for semi-professional or technical employment.
Withdrawal: The administrative procedure of dropping a course or leaving an institution.
Zip Code: A series of numbers at the end of a U.S. mailing address that designates postal delivery districts in the United States. (Source: Education USA Virtual Consulting Office)
- Glossary of Terms used in UK Education System
Academic year: The university year.
Bursary: A financial grant given to eligible students that doesn?t need to be repaid.
Campus: Refers to the University buildings and facilities in a particular location.
Course: Set of units that lead to an award.
Course Tutor: Member of academic staff responsible in the achievement of all of the learners on their course. A course tutor may also be referred to as course leader
Coursework: A piece of work you need to complete as part of your course.
Degree Classification: The grading scheme for undergraduate degrees. Honours degrees can either be first class, 'upper' (2:1) and 'lower' (2:2) second class, or third class honours.
Dissertation: A major written piece of work or research project undertaken in the final year of an undergraduate honours degree course.
Enrolment: The process where students become registered students of the University.
Entry Requirements: Minimum qualifications, grades, and experience needed to be accepted onto a course.
Ents: Short for entertainments, which are usually run by the students' union and include concerts, club nights, comedy gigs etc.
ESL: This acronym stands for 'English as a Second Language'
ESOL: This acronym stands for 'English for Speakers of Other Languages'
Faculty: A group of departments defined by shared interests (e.g. Art & Design). Faculties at MMU are led by a Dean.
First Degree: University degree course and qualification awarded by a university to an undergraduate student.
Foundation Degree: Degree level qualifications designed with employers which combine academic study with workplace learning.
Foundation Year: If your qualifications are not in the right subjects or at the right grades to meet the entry requirements for your chosen course you may be able to do one year?s foundation study. If you complete this to the required standard you will be guaranteed a place on the first year of your chosen course.
Fresher: A term used for undergraduate students starting the first year of their course.
Graduand: A student in the few months between finishing their course and attending graduation.
Graduate: Someone who has successfully completed a degree course and been awarded their degree.
Grant: Money given to eligible students to help with living or study costs, similar to a bursary.
International Baccalaureate: High school or secondary school qualification equivalent to British A levels.
Induction Week: The academic term usually begins late in September or early October with an induction week for first-year students.
During induction week, students meet lecturers, receive handouts and find out essential information about university support and services.
Jobshop: A student employment agency usually run by the students' union. Apart from advertising vacancies, jobshops are sometime more proactive and actually look for appropriate paid work for students. Unlike most job agencies, they usually don't take a cut.
Joint Honours: Not an honours degree in cooking big roasts, but, like a combined honours degree a course involving more than one subject. In this case, two subjects.
Levels: Level 1 refers to the first year of a university course and level 2 to the second and level 3 to the third year. Part-time students will take longer to complete each level than full-time students.
Mature Student: A student who is 21 years of age or over in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (20 or over in Scotland) by the time their course starts.
Rag: Rag (from 'Raise and Give') is an excuse to dress up in stupid clothing and get up to wacky antics - and all in the name of charity. Collectively, student charity Rags raise millions of pounds with stunts like parachute jumps etc.
Redbrick: Refers to a style of building - or a period from around the turn of the century through to the Second World War. Used to describe a university whose main buildings are in that style, and is shorthand for 'not Oxbridge but well established'.
Sabbatical (sabb): Every year at most universities, a few students take a year off their studies to be employed by the SU. Not just anyone can do this though - they almost always have to be elected by the other students. Sabbatical positions usually include roles such as SU president, welfare officer, communications officer etc.
Sandwich Year: Time spent within your course on a 'placement', usually in industry, in order to gain experience and develop learning in a practical setting.
Tariff: A points system used to measure student achievement for entry to higher education (see UCAS tariff system).
Tutorial: A study session during which an individual, or small group, meets with a tutor in order to discuss their work, progress or general course issues.
Unconditional Offer: An offer of a place on a course, given to a student who has satisfied all entry requirements.
Unit: A degree is made up of a number of units, which a student is required to pass in order to complete their degree.
- Glossary of Terms used in German Education System
Abitur: Qualification awarded after the successful completion of a German secondary school (Gymnasium). The Abitur is the entrance requirement to enroll at University. It is usually awarded after 12 or 13 years of school at the age of 18 or 19.
AIESEC: (Association Internationale des Etudiants en Science Economique et Commerciale) International exchange organization for students who are interested in economics, management and commerce and would like to complete an internship in a foreign country. AIESEC is an independent, non-profit student organization which can be found in approximately 80 countries. It also works as a consultant to the UNESCO and the United Nations. AIESEC arranges internships in its member countries as part of an international trainee exchange program. Information about applications, interviews, language tests, application dates, etc. is available at the local AIESEC office of each university.
Akademisches Auslandsamt: The Akademisches Auslandsamt or the Foreign Students' Office can be found at every university and is an important address not only for all foreign students in Germany; but also for German students who would like to study or do an internship in a foreign country. The Akademisches Auslandsamt also organizes preparatory courses for the German language exam, which all foreign students have to take in order to study at a German university. It is also responsible for admission of foreign students to German universities.
Allgemeiner Studierenden Ausschuss (AStA): A self-administered executive body of student representatives elected each year by the student parliament. The main goal of the AStA is to represent students' interests at the university. The AstA also provides help and advice on how and where to find a job or a room, on matters related to changing universities or changing academic majors. It also organizes a varied program of sporting, cultural and leisure activities.In the state of Baden-Württemberg, the Fachschaftskonferenz (FSK) is responsible for student representation, in Bavaria the so-called Studentische Konvent.
Arbeitserlaubnis: Work permit issued by the Ausländeramt after the Arbeitsamt approved the foreigner's right to work in Germany.Without an Arbeitserlaubnis, or work permit, foreign students from non-EU countries are only allowed to work a maximum of 90 days a year or, with special permission, 10 hours a week parallel to their studies.
Assi: (colloq. for "Assistent") Usually PhD and post-doctoral graduates providing research and teaching assistance to a specific Dozent, Professor or chair.
Association Internationale des Etudiants en Science: International exchange organization for students who are interested in economic matters and would like to complete a course in practical training in a foreign country. AIESEC is an independent organization which can be found in approximately 80 countries. It also works as a consultant for UNESCO and the United Nations. AIESEC arranges practical training courses in its member countries as part of an international trainee exchange program. Information about applications, interviews, language tests, application dates, etc. is available at the local AIESEC office at each university.
AStA: (Allgemeiner Studentischen Ausschuss) A self-administered executive body of student representatives elected each year by the student parliament. The main goal of the AStA is to represent students' interests at the university. The AstA also provides help and advice on how and where to find a job or a room, on matters related to changing universities or changing academic majors. It also organizes a varied program of sporting, cultural and leisure activities.In the state of Baden-Württemberg, the Fachschaftskonferenz (FSK) is responsible for student representation, in Bavaria the so-called Studentische Konvent.
Audimax: Largest Hörsaal (auditorium) at a university. General gatherings and information seminars for new students or large lectures often take place here.
Ausländeramt: Goverment authority responsible for issuing residence permits. Students from non-EU countries must apply for a residence permit (Aufenthaltsgenehmigung) before the visa (usually granted for three months) expires. Since the residence permit is only issued for 12 months, it must be extended every year. The Ausländeramt also issues work permits after the foreigner has applied for one at the Arbeitsamt, which has to approve the permission.
Bafög: (Darlehen nach dem Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz ) Government financial support for students. Also called ?Bafög? for short. The ability to qualify for such a non-interest government loan depends on the student?s income as well as that of his/her parents or spouse. Normally only German students are eligible for Bafög, but in certain cases foreign students may also apply: students from EU member counties who are residents of Germany; students from non-EU member countries, providing one of their parents is of German descent; students who have the official status of political refugee or stateless person; or students who have been employed in Germany for at least five years prior to beginning their course of study.
Bezirksamt: Local government office, responsible for individual districts of a city. Various municipal authorities can be found at the Bezirksamt, such as the Sozialamt (social welfare office), the Amt für Wohnungswesen (public housing office), as well as the Einwohnermeldeamt (the Residents' Registration office).
Branchenbuch: Also called ?Gelbe Seiten? (Yellow Pages). A supplement to the telephone book, listing addresses and telephone numbers found in a city or municipal district, arranged alphabetically according to specific areas of work or business.
c.t.:(cum tempore) Of Latin origin, literally translated as ?with time?. This abbreviation can be found in the lecture timetable after the starting time of a Seminar (course) or Vorlesung (lecture). 10 a.m. c. t. means that the course or lecture begins 15 minutes after the given time, i.e. at 10.15 a.m. (Cf. sine tempore (s. t.))
Dies academicus: ?Open House? day at a university. High school students and their teachers, but also other interested residents can inform themselves about the study courses on offer at a university. On this day, the individual departments present their course programs in special lectures. Students normally have no classes on this day.
Doktorand: Name for students preparing their Dissertation (see also Promotion). Doktorvater / Doktormutter: University professor in the function of an academic advisor who guides and counsels a Doktorand in the course of his / her academic work (Dissertation).
Dozent: (= university lecturer) As a general rule, the Dozent is in the process of doing his/her PhD (Promotion) or post-doctoral thesis (Habilitation). Dozenten do not have to belong to the university, but can be employed from outside, bringing with them not only academic knowledge but also to a large extent, professional experience too.
Einschreibung: (Immatrikulation) Formal registration at a German university for the semester of study for which the Einschreibungsgebühr is paid. Following the Immatrikulation, the student identity card is issued which needs to be shown whenever the student is asked to give proof of student status. Einschreibungsgebühr: Fee paid every year by students to university administration, the Studentenwerk and the AStA. The amount runs between euro 15 and euro 125 per semester, depending on whether a monthly pass for public transport is included or not (Semesterticket).
Einstufung: Classification of a student transferring from a different institution in Germany or abroad according to the regulations of the curriculum of classes and exams of the university (Studienordnung). The classification is usually carried out by the departmental examination board or its president.
Einwohnermeldeamt: Local authority for the registration of residents in a municipal district. This is where all people have to register (Anmeldung) within one week of moving into a new apartment or home in Germany and remove their registration (Abmeldung) before living the district.
Exmatrikulation: The process of leaving university by officially withdrawing as a student. Fachbereich: College or school of a university which combines several related departments, e.g. the Juristische Fakultät (= College of Law), Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät (= College of Natural Sciences), Philosophische Fakultät (= College of Liberal Arts).
Fachhochschule: University of Applied Sciences: Polytechnic usually offering programs leading to the degree Diplom (FH). The focus of the curricula of a Fachhochschule as opposed to a university is on the practical application of the taught knowledge and not on the provided theoretical or scholarly skills.
Fakultät: College or school of a university which combines several related departments, e.g. the Juristische Fakultät (= College of Law), Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät (= College of Natural Sciences), Philosophische Fakultät (= College of Liberal Arts).
Gelbe Seiten: (= Yellow Pages) A supplement to the telephone book, listing addresses and telephone numbers found in a city or municipal district, arranged alphabetically according to specific areas of work or business.
Giro-Vend: Cash-free payment system for the university Cafeteria and Mensa. At many universities meals can be paid for with a debit card which has a certain amount of money previously deposited on it. Such cards are generally available near the entrance to the university Mensa or Cafeteria. Additional sums can always be added to the cards, and when they are no longer needed they may be returned for the deposit on them.
Graduierte: Name used for PhD candidates who are supported by a special scholarship from their respective German federal state.
Hilfswissenschaftler: Student assistant who helps a Dozent or Professor in his/her academic work (research assistant). The type of work performed ranges from simple academic tasks such as searching for research literature in the library to doing research on different topics and making a contribution to a scholarly article or publication. Hilfswissenschaftler are also employed as student aids in the department libraries.
Hörsaal: Room in which lectures are held. Kommilitone / Kommilitonin: Fellow male/female student at university.
Magister (M.A.): (Magister/Magistra Artium) The most commonly awarded degree in the humanities and social sciences. A Magister, or Masters, is awarded only upon successful completion of the Hauptstudium, Magisterarbeit (=master?s thesis) and Magisterexamen (=master?s exams). Only certain combinations of major and minor subjects are permitted in a Magister course of study, generally either two majors or one major and two minors may be combined. Further information is available from the Dekanat.
Oberseminar (OS): Course for final exam candidates and Doktoranden. In this course the participants present and discuss the results of their scholarly research work. Referat: Oral presentation by a student on a subject previously agreed upon. The length and content of a Referat are set by the Dozent or Professor. Topics for Referate are either chosen prior to semester begin or during the first few weeks of the Seminar.
Regelstudienzeit: The period of time in which a course of study is supposed to be completed. The Regelstudienzeit, including all the exams to be taken, is set in the Prüfungsordnung und Studienordnung. In many cases, however, the actual duration of studies is longer than the Regelstudienzeit, since it is not always possible to complete the course of study within such a period. This is especially so if students have to earn a living parallel to studying.
Rückmeldung: Notification to the university administration that a student plans to continue his/her studies in the following Semester. The Rückmeldung is performed by transferring the amount of the Semesterbeitrag. In return students receive a valid Studentenausweis for the following Semester.
Studentenparlament: Decision-making body of the students at a university. The Studentenparlament is elected annually by the student body. Its responsibilities include the yearly election of the AStA (or similar organization), the approval of the AStA budget, as well as control over the AStA.
Teilnahmeschein: Also called Sitzschein/Hörerschein. A document which certifies attendance to a Seminar or Vorlesung.
Universitätbibliothek (UB): The main library of a university. It is larger than the faculty libraries and contains works of a more general nature than the more specialized department libraries.
Vordiplom: Certificate received after completing the Grundstudium in certain academic majors of the natural and social sciences.
Wohngemeinschaft (WG): (?Living community?) People sharing an apartment or house without necessarily being related or emotionally attached. The Wohngemeinschaft often serves the purpose of saving money by sharing the cost for utilities, but often implies a specific lifestyle and sometimes takes the place of the family.
Zulassungsbescheid: (also called Zulassung) Official letter from the university administration confirming acceptance for a particular academic major. It is followed by the Immatrikulation.
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