Open Colleges terminology

Confused by all the university jargon? So are we at times. To help everyone out, we’ve put together a glossary that explains some of the most common technical terms you’ll come across at university.


Aboriginal cultural practices

We acknowledge and respect the diverse nature of Aboriginal culture in this country and at Open Colleges. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples hold distinct cultural rights and we respect that each culture has its own set of values and history.

Academic Board

An Academic board is composed primarily of academics, who oversee, monitor and regulate academic affairs.


This means the course we are offering is officially recognised by the peak bodies that we operate under and is recognised formally within industry. When you become a student at Open Colleges, you can rest assured that our courses are all accredited and nationally recognised Australia-wide!


An association for students who have graduated. In the last five years alone, we've seen over 19,700 students graduate from OC courses!


An assessment is an evaluation used to measure what you know or have learned during your course. Depending on the course you choose to study, your learning will be assessed through the completion of a combination of activities, short answer questions, quizzes, case studies, portfolios, role plays, recordings, videos, research projects and logbooks.

And don’t forget – your Trainer is there to help you every step of the way!

ASQA: Australian Skills Quality Authority 

The national regulator for Australia's vocational education and training (VET) sector.

Australian Qualifications Framework

The AQF provides the standards for Australian qualifications and provides assurance that courses and providers are approved by government.

Rest assured, all of our courses at Open Colleges are recognised under the AQF, which means you can use your course to gain work Australia-wide.

Austudy/Abstudy assistance

Some of our courses are approved for Austudy/Abstudy assistance, provided you are eligible to receive these payments. Our Enrolment Consultants will be able to give you further general information. Call them today on 1300 853 033. We recommend you also contact Centrelink to discuss your specific circumstances.



A certificate from Open Colleges is a nationally recognised qualification designed to give you specific high-level skills and knowledge. Depending on the level of the certificate, it can take from 6 months to 2 years to complete.

Certificate II

A Certificate II qualifies you to undertake “mainly routine work” and is seen as the minimum qualification for entry level jobs in some industries. 

Certificate III

A certificate III qualifies people to “undertake skilled work.” It provides more advanced knowledge and skills and also lays the groundwork for further learning. 

Certificate IV

A certificate IV is designed to help you gain a qualification in a supervisory and management position. If you’re looking to further advance your existing skillset, this certificate will help you progress your career in your chosen field. 

Course Duration

Our courses generally range in duration from 12 months to 2 years, depending on the type of course you choose to study. When you study online with Open Colleges, you have the flexibility to work at your own pace. There are no deadlines - you just have to make sure you finish before your course expiry date. 

Course Guide 

Our course guides contain detailed information about your course, such as assessments, learning outcomes and credit points. They are a valuable resource for our students.

Credit Transfer

If you've previously studied, perhaps at TAFE, and have completed units that are identical (or considered equivalent to units in your course,) we may be able to give you credit for a subject or subjects in your course, allowing you to complete your course faster.



Open Colleges recognises that life can get in the way of studies. Our students may, due to personal circumstances, require additional time to complete their course beyond the maximum course period for their enrolment. This is why we offer an Extension & Deferral Policy.


A Diploma is a level 5 qualification. It provides you with a deeper understanding of a particular area of knowledge and can lay the groundwork to apply for an advanced diploma or bachelor’s degree and other higher level qualifications.



The formal process of signing up for a course by giving us your details, agreeing to the terms and conditions, and passing the entry requirements. After that, you’re all set to begin your exciting new career!

Enrolment consultant

Also known as an EC, it’s their job to help you find the right course to match your career goals and level of experience. They’re also very friendly! Feel free to call them today.


If you can’t complete all your course requirements within your course duration, don’t worry! You may apply for a course extension of a maximum of up to 6 months. There is a small fee payable per month of extension, and this is set out in our Schedule of Administrative Fees.


Job Outcomes

Job outcomes are a list of possible job/career opportunities available to you upon completion of your course.


Learning Material/Resources

Our learning resources are materials that are used for teaching our courses. The good news is that you can access your learning materials at any time of the day or night!

LMS – Learning Management System

An online learning portal for our students to view course content.



Microcredentials are small courses in a specific area of study. They can help you learn new skills, progress in your career, or change careers entirely. With a focus on upskilling and reskilling in short timeframes, a microcredential can be completed in your own time and provide certification upon completion.


The term "module" refers to a number of instructional units that focus on a particular topic and offer student-centered learning activities.



There are plenty of online providers who offer courses that are not accredited. This means that even after paying for and completing your course, it does not count towards a recognised qualification. Don’t worry! OC is fully accredited and recognised Australia-wide.



This is what we do to set you up for success! Whether that’s a video showing you the ins and outs of our learning management system, a one on one phone call with learning support officers, or simply completing your onboarding components. We do all we can to help integrate you into online study.

On Campus 

This refers to studying onsite and in-person instead of studying online. At Open Colleges, we have two state-of-the-art campuses in Adelaide and Perth.

These are our School of Health campuses where you learn in-person from our experienced nurses and clinical specialists.

Online learning

A mode of study allowing you to complete your course from home or your workplace. It is a flexible option for students, like yourself, to learn at your own place and pursue the career of your choice. Also known as distance education.

At OC, we are Australia’s first ever distance education provider spanning back 125 years!


OC’s custom designed online learning platform. OS provides a user-friendly interface, that is mobile responsive. This means that you can complete your coursework using your laptop, iPad, or mobile device.

All coursework is automatically saved, providing you with the flexibility you need to complete your studies anywhere, anytime. It provides students 24/7 access, 365 days a year, allowing you all the time and flexibility you need to succeed.



Having an OC qualification under your belt could provide you with further study options in the future. You may be able to use your qualification as a stepping stone to further learning, and to advance your career. Chat to our EC’s for more information.

Payment Plan 

Here at Open Colleges, we know that the cost of a course is one of the main factors to consider when it comes to studying online. That’s why we offer flexible payment plans. You can choose to pay for your course in weekly or fortnightly payments. By paying in instalments, you can schedule your payments around your regular outgoings and get ahead without breaking the bank. Open Colleges payment plans are interest-free.

PIF - Pay in full 

At Open Colleges, we offer a range of flexible payment options for your course. If you choose to pay in full, you may qualify for a big discount! Give an Enrolment Consultant a call on 1300 853 033 (option 1) to talk through your choices.


The dishonest use of someone else's ideas, words, concepts or theories by presenting them as your own.


Practical training in a working environment, similar to work experience. Many of our courses incorporate this as part of your hands-on learning.


A set of conditions (usually completion of a subject) that you need to meet before you can enrol in a particular subject.


Recognition of prior learning (RPL)

A process we use to assess your relevant prior learning (including formal, informal and non-formal learning) to determine the credit we can give you towards completion of a qualification (adapted from Australian Qualifications Framework definition). If approved, you may be able to complete your course quicker.

RTO - 'RTO' stands for Registered Training Organisation

(RTOs) are private colleges that provide nationally recognised training services in VET — vocational education and training. Open Colleges is a RTO, as we are privately owned and provide nationally recognised qualifications.



A semester is an academic term referring to the time in which an educational institution holds classes. Fortunately, at Open Colleges, we do not have specific intakes for our courses. You can enrol any time you like!

Skill Sets 

Our fully accredited Skill Sets are units of competency. They are designed to get your foot in the door to work by developing and building on your existing skills or upskilling in a new area. Skill sets are perfect for our time poor students, and those who want to gain valuable core skills without breaking the bank.

Student Handbook

The OC Student Handbook is your guide to studying with us, and provides lots of information and advice about how to get the most out of your learning experience.

Structured Workplace Learning

A structured work placement (often called work placement) gives our students the chance to gain the hands-on experience that will give you an edge in your chosen industry. Many students tell us that work placement is the most fulfilling aspect of their course!



When a course is superseded and a new version of the course framework becomes available, we are advised a date that we can no longer continue teaching the existing version.

Trainers and Assessors 

Our friendly Trainers and Assessors are certified to teach and guide you through your course. They are experts in their fields with several years’ experience – so you can be sure their knowledge is industry-relevant and up to date.


A transition occurs when we move students from a superseded course to the new course version. Don’t worry – we’ll give you plenty of notification beforehand! So, from when it is announced that a course is superseded, the existing version goes into teach-out while we build the new course, and the deadline arrives.



A unit is a component of study focused on a particular subject or topic.


VET (vocational education and training)

VET courses teach you targeted and practical skills and they offer a faster job-focused pathway to a career.



The word “webinar” is a blend of “web” and “seminar”. It is an online event with the purpose of teaching you about a specific topic. So, make sure to check them out!

Work Placement

This is practical training in a working environment, similar to work experience. Many of our courses incorporate this as part of your hands-on learning.

Workplace Assessor

To assist you with your work placement, we provide you with an Open Colleges Workplace Assessor. They will set up check points with you and your supervisor to review your progress during placement to make sure you feel supported.

Workplace Assessment Guide

This guide is specific for each course that has work placement. It provides more detail about requirements for your particular course, so make sure to check it out!