A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

Note: Where "CU" appears in brackets after the definition, this indicates that the term is specific to the Coventry University Group (rather than being used across the sector more generally). 


Access agreements  – Agreements submitted by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to Office for Fair Access (OFFA), which indicate how institutions intend to:
• support improvements in participation rates in higher education from under-represented groups
• where appropriate, increase the amount of funding available for bursaries and/or for outreach work  with schools, Further Education (FE) colleges and so on.

Access courses – Access courses are designed to prepare students who do not have standard entry qualifications for higher education courses.

Access to Learning Funds (ALF)– Government money given to universities and colleges via the UK HE funding councils to assist students in financial difficulty with their living costs. Funds may be used to provide bursaries for students who might be deterred from entering higher education. They can also be used to waive tuition fees for part-time students on benefits, or who become unemployed during their course.

Accessibility - Accessibility is about designing things to optimise access and opportunities for everyone wherever possible (being inclusive). At University, this means making efforts to eliminiate barriers that may arise in digital content, teaching and learning activties, and assessment. 

ACE – Adult Continuing Education

Accountability – The process through which institutions and individuals are expected to demonstrate the fulfilment of their obligations, including the proper use of public funds.

Accreditation – Accreditation is the approval of a higher education course by an authorised body.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL), Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) – A general term used for the recognition of an individual’s previously acquired skills and knowledge and the award of credit on the basis of demonstrated learning that has occurred at some time in the past, in order to:

• gain entry to further or higher education courses

• give exemption from certain parts of a new course of study

• qualify for an award in an appropriate subject in further or higher education.

This learning may have come about as the result of a course, self-directed study, or as the result of experience either at work or in leisure pursuits.

ACU – Association of Commonwealth Universities

Add+vantage - A scheme offering a range of carefully selected and structured modules which help students develop work related skills and employability competencies. The vast majority of undergraduate students are required to take a 10 credit Add+vantage module during Levels 1 to 3 and to pass them for an honours degree. (CU)

Advance HE - Established in March 2018, following the merger of the Equality Challenge Unit, the Higher Education Academy and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education. Its purpose is to advance the professional practice of higher education to improve outcomes for the benefit of students, staff and society. It aims to be “of and for the sector” and is jointly owned by GuildHE and Universities UK.

AGCAS – Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services

AHUA – Association of Heads of University Administration

Alumni – A community of graduates and former students of a particular school, college or university.

AMOSSHE – Association of Managers of Student Services in Higher Education

AMS – Annual Monitoring Statement

The Ancient Universities – The seven surviving British and Irish Universities, founded in the middle ages and renaissance. They are: Oxford, Cambridge, St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dublin.

APEL/APL – Accreditation (or Assessment) of Prior and Experiential Learning (or Education and Learning) – see Accreditation of Prior Learning above.

APU – Academic Partnership Unit – this unit supports academic partner institutions across the globe (CU).

AUA – Association of University Administrators

Aula- CU's Virtual Learning Environment (see VLE below), adopted in September 2020.  Aula offers a mobile-first, interactive and engaging learning environment, giving the option to deliver teaching digitally, face-to-face, or a blend of both. CU's previous VLE was Moodle (see below).

AUDE – Association of University Directors of Estates

AY – Academic Year

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BA  – British Academy

BA/BSc – Bachelor of Arts/Science: academic degree awarded for undergraduate course generally lasting three-four years in the UK. In some exceptional cases, it may also be the name of a postgraduate degree, such as Bachelor of Civil Law, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Philosophy, etc. From same root as French word baccalauréat, a bay or laurel wreath.

Benchmarking – A process through which practices are analysed to provide a standard measurement (‘benchmark’) of effective performance within an organisation (such as a university). Benchmarks are also used to compare performance with other organisations and other sectors.

Blended learning – A method of educating that uses e-learning techniques, such as online delivery through the web, discussion boards and e-mail, combined with traditional face to face lectures, seminars, and tutorials.

Block grant – The total amount of funding provided by the Council to an institution for teaching and research.

BME – Black and Minority Ethnic. Sometimes the term "BAME" (Black And Minority Ethnic) is used.

Bologna Declaration, Bologna Process – In 1999 Education ministers from around 30 countries undertook in a joint declaration (the Bologna Declaration) to establish a European area of higher education by 2010. This includes, for example, enabling students to study in other European countries, and ensuring that their qualifications and skills are transferable. The ongoing work to achieve this is the Bologna process.

BoS – Board of Study, where Academic departments review courses, quality and general University requirements (CU).

BTEC courses – Vocational courses validated by Edexcel.

BUFDG – British Universities Finance Directors Group

Bursaries – Bursaries (and scholarships) are financial help for students primarily from poorer backgrounds that are aimed at easing the transition into higher education and help them successfully complete their studies. Most are means-tested, but some are based on other criteria such as academic merit.

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CAFAS – Council for Academic Freedom and Academic Standards

CAS – Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies.  A CAS is a unique reference number provided by the UK Border Agency and a compulsory requirement to support a Tier 4 (General) student visa application for international students. A CAS must be requested before a student can start their visa application.

CATS – See Credit Accumulation & Transfer Scheme

CAW – Centre for Academic Writing – A teaching and research centre which offers a range of services to students including tutorials, workshops, academic writing resources, academic writing modules for UG students through the Add+vantage programme and specialist PG workshops (CU).

CDAR- Course Development and Review (CU).

CEQ Course Evaluation Questionnaire, internal survey run for level 4 and 5 students in their second semester

CGE – Centre for Global Engagement – Offers students a wide range of opportunities to help them develop international experience and become globally employable (CU).

Chancellor – A distinguished individual, from academia or public life, who does not hold any other University office. The Chancellor acts as a ceremonial figurehead for the University,  presiding at major ceremonies such as graduation.The current Chancellor of CU is Margaret Casely-Hayford. See also Vice-Chancellor (below).

CHEIA – Council of Higher Education Internal Auditors

Clearing – The process operated by UCAS after A-level results in mid-August, which enables students to apply for places on higher education courses which still have vacancies.

COIL- Collaborative Online International Learning: Virtual mobility experiences are embedded into the formal curriculum, providing students with an opportunity to interact with peers at international universities and/or professionals, so they can develop intercultural competences and digital skills while working together on subject-specific learning tasks or activities. (CU)

Collaborative arrangements – A general term for arrangements between two or more institutions (universities, higher education colleges or further education colleges) for joint activity.

Continuing education (CE) – Continuing education students are on courses normally lasting less than one year; they are usually part-time. Continuing education can be award-bearing or non-award bearing and vocational or non-vocational.

Continuing professional development (CPD) – A range of short and long training programmes, some of which have an option of accreditation, which foster the development of employment- related knowledge, skills and understanding.

Course director - An academic who oversees the running of a course, as detailed in the CU document Defining the Course Director Role.

Course representatives – Students who represent students at course and departmental level.

Coventry University -  Known as Lanchester Polytechnic until 1987, and Coventry Polytechnic until it was awarded university status in 1992. 

Coventry University Committees – List of Coventry University Committees available at: https://staff.coventry.ac.uk/ps/Registry/qeu/Pages/Committees.aspx (CU).

CPD – See Continuing professional development

CQEM- The Course Quality Enhancement & Monitoring [CQEM] process is an essential mechanism underpinning the development of a course focused approach for the student experience. At the heart of the CQEM process are two formal meetings of course team to review course performance and action plan for further developments. (CU)

Credit accumulation and transfer schemes (CATS) – System used by many universities in the UK to monitor, record and reward passage through a modular degree course and to facilitate movement between courses and institutions. E.g.: a completed university course of 10 to 20 2-hour sessions would be worth between 10 and 20 CATS points, at one of Levels 1 to 3. 360 points need to be accumulated (240 points at level 2 or above and 120 points at level 3) to qualify for an honours degree; a foundation degree is broadly equivalent to 240 points, and a ‘pass/ordinary degree’ to 300 points.
A postgraduate Master’s degree is equivalent to 180 points at Level M.

CUBO – Conference of University Business Officers

CUC – Committee of University Chairs

CUOnline – CUOnline is the Coventry University platform for housing e-learning material and digital resources. CUOnline operates two core Virtual Learning Environments (VLE), Moodle and Mahara. Moodle is the VLE that enables access to information such as lecture notes, images, video clips, blogs, links to websites, hand-outs and assignment details (CU).

CUSU – Coventry University Students’ Union (CU).

CVU – Council of Validating Universities

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DAPs – Degree-awarding powers

DBA  – Doctorate in Business Administration.  The DBA programme provides a route to the highest level of academic study appropriate to experienced practitioners who seek to contribute to practice in their sector/ discipline. The programme will build upon a participant’s professional experience and their potential as change agents within their practice setting. The programme will develop the necessary research skills and capabilities to enable the participants to initiate, implement and evaluate evidence-based organisational change.

Degree classification - British degrees are classified as follows:

  • First-class honours (1st, 1 or I) – 70% or higher
  • Second-class honours
    • Upper division (2:1, 2i or II-1) – 60–69%
    • Lower division (2:2, 2ii or II-2) – 50–59%
  • Third-class honours (3rd, 3 or III) – 40–49%

Students who do not achieve honours may be awarded an ordinary degree, sometimes known as a "pass". See also "honours degree". 

Degree course – A course of higher education leading to the award of a foundation, bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy- UK Government department focused on building the economy, to encourage employment, investment, innovation and growth.

Department for Education (DfE) – The department of UK government with ultimate responsibility for education and children’s services. Formerly the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Diploma – A qualification awarded for a course of higher education.

Dissertation – A written research project, examining a subject in detail, usually submitted at the end of the final year of a course. Not all courses require students to undertake a dissertation.

Distance learning – Instruction provided at a distance to students who do not normally attend lectures and tutorials at the institution. This is enabled at Coventry through CU Online. 

Diversity – A broad term to describe the range of visible and invisible differences between people and institutions. It can mean the varieties of learners with different backgrounds, requiring varied methods of entry to courses and of instruction. It is also used to describe the variety of provision available in the higher education sector and the different types of institution which deliver it.

DMLL – Disruptive Media Learning Lab. Based on the 3rd floor of the library, the Lab is uniquely designed to promote open dialogues, collaborative work and exploratory play for all interested in defining the 21st century university. (CU)

Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development - Responsible for the design and delivery of research-informed training and development initiatives for early, middle, and senior career researchers. For more information, email recap@coventry.ac.uk (CU)

Doctorate - An academic or professional degree that in most countries qualifies the holder to teach in a specific field. All UK doctorates are research based in that their main (and in many cases only) component is the submission of a thesis or portfolio of original research, examined by an expert panel appointed by the university. 

The UK has relatively recently introduced ‘vocational doctorates’ such as the DBA, EngD, and Professional doctorate, which still require the submission of a body of original research of a similar length to a PhD thesis, but might be in the form of a portfolio of technical reports on different research projects as opposed to a single, lengthy thesis. Another important difference is that the candidate may work full-time for an industrial sponsor and is jointly supervised by university faculty members and company employees.

DPhil – DPhil is the abbreviation Oxford (and some other universities, mainly Commonwealth) uses for “Doctor of Philosophy”. PhD is the more commonly used abbreviation.

DRC – Disability Rights Commission

DSA – Disabled Students’ Allowance

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EAUC  – Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges

ECU – Equality Challenge Unit

Edexcel – Edexcel is a UK examining and awarding body. It provides a wide range of qualifications including at higher education level.

Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA): Government agency bringing together the former responsibilities of the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and Skills Funding Agency (SFA) to create a single agency accountable for funding education and skills for children, young people and adults.

EEC – Faculty of Engineering, Environment and Computing (CU)

EngD – The Engineering Doctorate (EngD) is an alternative to the PhD route to doctoral level studies and is designed to prepare students for a career in industry. Whilst a PhD involves University-based, often abstract and theoretical, research, the EngD involves working closely with an industrial sponsor on a topic or topics related directly to their business activities. Despite this difference, the ultimate test of intellectual contribution required for the attribution of the EngD is equivalent to that of the PhD.

EUA – The European University Association represents and supports higher education institutions in 47 countries, and is the official representative of the university sector in the Bologna process. As such, it participates in numerous working groups or consultative bodies within that framework, represents universities’ views and advises the European Commission in multiple research policy fora as well as working closely with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Council of Europe and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organisation (UNESCO).
It cooperates with other European and national organisations in higher education, and research is an important component of EUA’s work in order to develop common positions and effectively impact on future policies. EUA’s scope also includes an international strategy aimed at fostering cooperation with representative organisations in other parts of the world, working on common issues and raising awareness on the reform of the European higher education system.

E-learning – Learning conducted via electronic media, usually on the Internet.

ELQ – Equivalent or Lower Qualification

Employability skills – The transferable core skills that represent functional and enabling knowledge, skills, and attitudes required in today’s workplace. They are necessary for career success at all levels of employment and for all levels of education.

Equality Act – Passed in 2010, the Act legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society, including at University.

Equal opportunities – The process of ensuring that everyone is entitled to freedom from discrimination. Areas specifically covered by the law currently are age, gender, race, disability, sexual orientation and religion or belief.

ERASMUS – A scheme in which students can spend time abroad as part of their study at a UK higher education institution

EU student – Term to classify a student’s tuition fee status. An EU student may qualify for Home Student status if they meet certain residence criteria.

Executive Dean – Senior member of University staff responsible for the leadership and management of a Faculty.

Exempt charity – A charity exempt from registration with the Charity Commission. Most publically funded HEIs in the UK, including Coventry University, are exempt charities.

Extenuating Circumstances – Genuine circumstances beyond a student’s control or ability to foresee, and which seriously affect their ability to submit assessed work. The regulations covering extenuating circumstances can be found in the Registry section on the University Staff Portal.

External Examiner – Academic subject or professional experts appointed from outside the University. Their role is to provide assurance that the University’s assessment systems are fair and operated equitably, and that standards are comparable with other universities.

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FACE – Forum for Access and Continuing Education

Faculty Registry – Team who support students through their studies, providing information and guidance on the rules and procedures that affect their academic progress. They are also there to provide advice and guidance to academic staff  on the University’s academic processes and regulations. They authorise deferrals, extensions, authorised absence requests and advise students and staff on a range of academic matters related to registry. (CU)

FAH – Faculty of Arts & Humanitites (CU)

FBL – Faculty of Business and Law (CU)

FD – Foundation degree

FE – Futher Education: In the United Kingdom and Ireland, post-compulsory education (in addition to that received at secondary school), that is distinct from the education offered in universities (Higher Education). It may be at any level above compulsory education, from basic training to Higher National Diploma or Foundation Degree. FE in the United Kingdom includes education for people over 16, usually excluding universities.
It is primarily taught in FE colleges, work-based learning, and adult and community learning institutions. This includes post-16 courses similar to those taught at schools and sub-degree courses similar to those taught at higher education (HE) colleges (which also teach degree-level courses) and at some universities.
Some FE colleges also offer degrees.

FEC – Further education college

Fees – See Tuition fees

Foundation course – A recognised HE course designed to prepare students who have qualifications which are acceptable for entry in general, but are not appropriate to a specific course of study. Foundation courses are also used as Year 0 of a degree course to enable students with non-traditional qualifications to participate in HE by using Year 0 as a preparatory year for a full degree programme.

Foundation degree – Foundation degrees are two-year higher education qualifications that were first offered in 2001-02. They are designed to meet skills shortages at the higher technician and associate professional levels. Foundation degrees are one level below the honours degree.

FPE: Full-person equivalent – In order to accurately measure HE provision where students are taught at more than one institution or are studying more than one subject, head-counts are split across the institutions/subjects involved in proportion to the activity in each – this results in counts of full-person equivalents. This gives a more accurate measure than direct head-counts, where the student would have to be arbitrarily assigned to one of the teaching institutions and/or one of the subjects.

Franchise – The agreement by one institution (usually an HEI) that another institution may deliver all or part of a programme approved and owned by the first institution. The franchising institution normally retains overall control of the programme’s content, delivery, assessment and quality assurance arrangements.

FRAP - Faculty Review and Approval Panel (CU).

FTE: Full-time equivalent – For comparison and funding purposes, numbers of part-time students and staff are converted to full-time equivalents. This is because a direct head-count is often a poor indication of the actual volume of activity.

FutureLearn - A digital education platform founded in December 2012, owned by The Open University.  A leading Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) (see below) provider, it offers free courses on a range of topics, typically lasting two to six weeks, with around three hours of study time per week. It has over 100 UK and international partners, including CU. 

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Governing body – The university court (in Scotland), council, board of governors or other body ultimately responsible for the affairs of a higher education institution. This will contain a large number of ‘lay members’ who are not from within the higher education sector and give their time voluntarily.

Graduate – Someone who has attained a bachelor’s or higher degree.

Graduation – Ceremony is where a student formally collects their qualification at the end of their studies. A student can graduate without attending the ceremony.

GLT – Group Leadership Team (CU).

Graduate Outcomes survey- Established in August 2017, the Graduate Outcomes survey captures the perspectives and current status of graduates. All graduates who completed a higher education course in the UK are asked to take part in the survey 15 months after they finish their studies.

GuildHE – One of the two representative bodies for higher education in the UK. (Click here for more informaiton)

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Halls of residence – Accommodation in which students often live while studying. 

HEA – see Higher Education Academy

HEFCEHigher Education Funding Council for England - A former public body which closed at the end of March 2018. Its function was to distribute public money for higher education to universities and colleges in England, and ensure that this money is used to deliver the greatest benefit to students and the wider public.  Many of HEFCE's functions are now being continued by the Office for Students (see below), the new regulator of higher education in England, and Research England, the new council within UK Research and Innovation.

HEFCW  – Higher Education Funding Council for Wales. Regulates fee levels at universities in Wales, ensures a framework is in place for assessing the quality of higher education and scrutinises the performance of universities and other designated providers.

HEI – see Higher Education Institution.

HERA – Higher Education Role Analysis: the main job evaluation scheme within HE, offering a methodology to enable organisations to map out their job roles in the context of the organisation.

HESA – Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA): the official agency for the collection, analysis and dissemination of quantitative information about higher education. It was set up by agreement between the relevant government departments, the higher education funding councils and the universities and colleges in 1993, following the White Paper “Higher Education: a new framework”, which called for more coherence in HE statistics, and the 1992 Higher and Further Education Acts, which established an integrated higher education system throughout the United Kingdom.

Higher degree – Degree above bachelor’s level, such as master’s degree or doctorate.

Higher education – Higher education courses are programmes leading to qualifications, or credits which can be counted towards qualifications, which are above the standard of GCE A-levels or other Level 3 qualifications. They include degree courses, postgraduate courses and Higher National Diplomas. Higher education takes place in universities and higher education colleges, and in some further education colleges.

Higher Education Academy (HEA) – The Higher Education Academy works to help universities, colleges and others to deliver the best possible learning experience for all students. The academy was formed in 2004 from a merger of the Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, the Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN), and the TQEF National Co-ordination Team. It is now part of Advance HE (see above). 

Higher education colleges – HE colleges are divided into specialist colleges dealing mainly with one subject area, such as music, art and design or teacher training; and more general colleges offering a range of courses, particularly in business, humanities and education.

Higher education institution (HEI)–  A university or higher education college.

HLS – Faculty of Health and Life Sciences (CU)

HNC - Higher National Diploma​​​​​​

HND – Higher National Certificate

Home students – These are students normally resident in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. They do not include students living in the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

Honours degree – A bachelor’s degree with honours covering greater depth than a general or ordinary BA or BSc degree. Sometimes abbreviated to "Hons". 

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ICTE: International Centre for Transformational Entrepreneurship- A unique institution formed to support sustainable socio-economic transformation through systemic approaches to entrepreneurship in communities nationally and internationally. (CU)

IELTS – International English Language Testing System – The International English Language Testing System is an English Language qualification that overseas students may need to complete before starting a course in the UK.

Institute of Student Employers – The UK’s leading independent voice for student employers; their vision is that the success of every business is maximised by full access to student talent. Formerly the Association of Graduate Recruiters

International student – A term used to describe students whose normal home is outside the European Union. 

IO – International Office – The Coventry University International Office looks after international and EU student recruitment and applications, and provides advice on non-academic issues such as immigration and welfare support. If a student needs advice, they should contact the International Student Support Team. (CU)

Island students – Students from the Isle of Man or Channel Islands.

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JANET – High-speed computer network for the academic community, overseen by JISC (see below). 

JISC  – Joint Information Systems Committee (of the UK higher education funding bodies)

Jiscmail – An e-mail list service to facilitate discussion, collaboration and communication within the UK academic community. For more information, click here.

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KIS – Key Information Set – Key Information Sets are comparable sets of standardized information about undergraduate courses on each institution’s prospectus pages and course comparison websites. They are designed to help prospective students compare data, programmes and institutions

Knowledge exchange or knowledge transfer – The process by which HEIs’ knowledge, expertise and intellectually linked assets are constructively applied beyond HE for the wider benefit of the economy and society, through two-way engagement with business, the public sector, cultural and community partners.

Kuali – System for developing and approving modules (CU).

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LEA – Local Education Authority – Responsible for education for those up to age 18 years old in England and Wales.

Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE) – P​​rovides a dedicated service of support and advice on leadership, governance and management for all the UK’s higher education institutions. Part of Advance HE. 

Level – Level of study refers to undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate (PG). Numbers are also used to denote different levels of qualifications in the UK, typically as follows:

  • Level 3: Foundation degrees, Foundation years, Diploma, BTEC’s and A Levels.
  • Level 4: 1st year of a bachelors programme or HNC (Higher National Certificate). 
  • Level 5: 2nd year of a bachelors programmes or a HND (Higher National Diploma).
  • Level 6: the final component in a bachelor’s degree.
  • Level 7: masters course.
  • Level 8: doctorate.

Lifelong learning – Defined by the Government as all post-16 learning, but applying specifically to learning by adults who are already in the workplace and need special part-time provision, or to learning that adults may wish to undertake to enrich their lives.

Locate – the Library’s online catalogue and resource discovery system. (CU)

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Mahara- A tool for creating online portfolios.

MAP- Marks Approval Process (CU).

Masters degree (MA/MSc/MPhil/MEd) – MA/MSc degrees are awarded to graduates who have undertaken a further course of study, after an honours degree, either full-time or part-time. Masters degrees may be taken following a period of work experience and some courses take the form of company training programmes. MPhil or MRes degrees may be awarded following a period of research rather than a course of study.

Mature student – an undergraduate student aged over 21 at the beginning of their course.

MBA – abbreviation for Master of Business Administration, a type of Masters’ degree.

MEQModule Evaluation Questionnaire, internal survey run mid-module for every module a student attends

Million+ – The Million+ group (formerly known as the Campaign for Mainstream Universities (CMU)) is a university think-tank, funded by contributions from its members, currently 22 UK universities incorporating post-1992 and university colleges. Many have long histories as colleges and polytechnics.

Mode – Mode of study specifies the type of course being undertaken (e.g. full-time, part-time, a sandwich course, online etc).

Modern Universities – See Post-1992 Universities

Modular degree/modularisation – A programme of study in which a student chooses a number of short courses or modules, the satisfactory completion of which leads to a degree.

Module leader – An academic who designs, organises and leads a module. To learn more about how this works at CU, see Defining the Module Leader role.  

MOOC: Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) - An online course aiming at large-scale participation and open access via the web. Typically they do not offer academic credit or charge tuition fees. Although completion rates are low (often only about 10% of learners), they offer Universities marketing and recruitment opportunities. A well known provider of MOOCs, which CU has a partnership with, is FutureLearn (see above). 

Moodle – A Learning Management System (LMS) or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), used by many universities. It was used at CU until September 2020, when it was replaced by Aula. 

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New Universities – See Post-1992 Universities

Non-continuation or ‘drop-out’ rates – The proportion of students who do not complete their course, for a variety of reasons, including financial difficulties.

NSS: National Student Survey – A national online survey carried out annually at most Higher and Further Education institutions across the UK. It provides students with the opportunity to give opinions on their total experience during their period in higher and further education. Student feedback is used to compile year on year comparative data and contribute significantly to the annual ‘League Tables’. Results are publicly available to prospective students and advisors to help make informed choices of where and what to study and data from previous surveys are currently available on Unistats. Universities, students’ unions or colleges use results internally to facilitate best practice and enhance the student learning experience.

NUS: National Union of Students – The organisation representing students in further and higher education in the UK. 

NVQ – National Vocational Qualification

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Office for Fair Access (OFFA) – A  former public body, closed in 2018, to promote and safeguard fair access to higher education for under-represented groups, in light of the introduction of variable tuition fees. Many of its functions are now being continued by the Office for Students (see below),

Office for Students - the independent regulator of higher education in England. Established in 2018, it merged the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Office for Fair Access, and formally inherited their responsibilities, while putting 'the student interest at its heart' and having 'a wider remit ... taking charge of the granting of degree awarding powers and university title.'​​​​​ Its aims are to: 

1. Help students to get into and succeed in higher education

2. Help students stay informed 

3. Make sure that students get a high-quality education that prepares them for the future

4. Protecting students’ interests

The OfS is not responsible for tuition fees policy or student loans, and is not allowed to provide funding to individual students.

OFSTED: The Office for Standards in Education – Aims to improve standards of achievement and quality of education through regular independent inspection, public reporting and informed advice. Ofsted is responsible for assessing the quality of initial teacher training.

Ordinary degree – A bachelor’s degree awarded without honours (see honours degree above).

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PAB – Programme Assessment Board – a PAB is responsible for determining progression and awards for students at each stage of their course. See also Subject Assessment Board. (CU)

Performance indicators – A set of indicators produced by HESA which measure the performance of higher education institutions in the UK in a number of areas.

PDP – Personal Development Planning – PDP is a structured process which helps students reflect on their own learning and plan for their personal, educational and career development.

PhD   The award of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) develops a postgraduate researcher's (PGR) subject-specific research expertise, knowledge and skill. The course builds on the PGRs undergraduate or masters-level studies by offering a challenging, critical and advanced level education focused around researcher development activity, workshops and a large independent research project leading to the submission of a thesis. It usually lasts 3 years full time and up to six years part time. A person with a PhD uses the title ‘Dr’. See also doctorate.

Plagiarism – the act of using other people’s words, images etc without reference or acknowledgement as if they were your own. Plagiarism is academic dishonesty.

Plate Glass Universities OR Robbins Expansion Universities – The twenty universities founded in the United Kingdom in the 1960s in the era of the Robbins Report on Higher Education (e.g. the University of Warwick).

POST: Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology - Parliament's in-house source of independent, balanced and accessible analysis of public policy issues related to science and technology.

Postgraduate Research student (PGR) –  A student undertaking a postgraduate research degree, such as a PhD.

Postgraduate student – A student on a course, such as a Masters, which normally requires a first degree as a condition of entry.

Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) – A course, normally of one year duration, for people with a degree (or equivalent qualifications) to train to be teachers.

Post-1992 universities – Higher education institutions which acquired university status as a result of the provisions of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, including CU.

PRES - Postgraduate Research Experience Survey,  coordinated by Advance HE, this annual sector-wide survey gains insight on the postgraduate research student experience

Professional doctorates – Designed for business and industry professionals and are mainly targeted at those with the experience and roles to facilitate impactful change within their organisations as a result of their research. 

PSLT – Professional Services Leadership Team (CU).

PTES: Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey,  coordinated by Advance HE, this annual sector-wide survey gains insight on the taught postgraduate student learning and teaching experience

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Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) – The QAA provides a quality assurance service for higher education institutions throughout the UK.

QuILT – The Quality in Learning and Teaching Committee at Coventry University, which is responsible to the Academic Board for keeping under review and enhancing, in co-operation with Faculty Boards, the standards and quality of the academic work of the University.  QuILT presents reports and recommendations to the Academic Board on policy issues and other matters significantly affecting the student experience and the enhancement of teaching. (CU)

QR funding – Quality-related research funding. It is allocated according to research quality (as judged by expert review in the periodic Research Excellence Framework exercise), and the amount of research carried out.

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Redbrick Universities – The term refers to six universities based in the UKs great industrial cities established before WW1.

REF: Research Excellence Framework – A system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions (HEIs). The exercise takes place around every 5 years, and will next be completed in 2021. It aims to:
• inform the selective allocation of their research funding to HEIs.
• provide accountability for public investment in research and evidence of the benefits of this investment.
• provide benchmarking information and establish reputational yardsticks.

Registry: The administrative hub of a university. It is responsible for a wide range of functions, from governance through to student administration. See also Faculty Registry. 

Research Councils – There are seven subject-specific Research Councils. They are funded by the Government to support research in their own establishments and to fund research projects in universities. See also UK Research and Innovation. 

Robbins Expansion Universities – See Plate Glass Universities.

The Robbins Report – A 1962 report of the Committee on Higher Education, chaired by Lord Lionel Robbins, which recommended substantial expansion in higher education. Its principles and recommendations formed the basis for the development of the university sector for subsequent years.

Roberts Review – Report commissioned from Sir Gareth Gwyn Roberts in June 2002 by the four funding bodies for UK higher education to review the future of research assessment in the UK. 

The Russell Group – An association of 24 British research intensive universities with a major role in public research. It was established in 1994 following the post-1992 expansion to represent its members’ interests, principally to government and parliament. 

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SAB – Subject Assessment Board is, where student marks are ratified prior to progression and award being considered at the PAB. (CU)

Sandwich course – A course of study which includes periods of practical work in organisations outside the university or college.

Scholarships – See Bursaries

Sector Skills Councils – Sector Skills Councils are independent organisations developed by employers in industry. They are employer-led and involve trade unions and professional bodies. SSCs were set up by Government to tackle the skills and productivity needs of their sector throughout the UK.

Semester – A study period of up to 16 weeks, often with the last two weeks used as an assessment period.

SFC – Scottish Funding Council.  Invests public money to enables Scotland’s colleges and universities to provide educational opportunities for over half a million people.

Sigma – Sigma provides maths and statistics support for CU students. Located in the Library. (CU)

Skills Funding Agency – The government agency responsible for funding and regulating adult further education and skills training in England.

SOLAR – Student Online Academic Record – Students access their results through SOLAR. (CU)

Sonic - online, web browser based screens for online Subject Assessment Boards (SABs) and Programme Assessment Boards (PABs). (CU)

Specialist institution – A higher education institution that has 60 per cent or more of its courses in one or two subjects only, such as music or art colleges.

Student finance - Financial help available from the Government to students in higher education.

Student Loans Company – A not-for-profit organisation founded to provide students with additional help towards living costs in the form of low-interest loans.

Study Abroad student – a visiting student (including non-European exchange students) who has been accepted onto a Study Abroad programme for a semester or full academic year as part of their home university course.

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TEF: Teaching Excellence Framework - A national exercise, introduced by the government in England, to assess excellence in teaching at universities and colleges, and how well they ensure excellent outcomes for their students in terms of graduate-level employment or further study.  The TEF process is managed by the Office for Students, and the results can help those considering higher education choose where to apply.  Ratings are judged by an independent panel of students, academics and other experts, resulting in institutions being awarded gold, silver or bronze for excellence.

TEF is a voluntary scheme, designed for universities and colleges in England, but those in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are also able to choose to participate.

Tier 4 Visa­ – A type of visa that non-EU international students must obtain to study a course that is longer than six months. The Coventry University Tier 4 Compliance Team ensure that international students meet their visa and attendance requirements.

THE: Times Higher Education – A weekly magazine based in London reporting specifically on news and other issues related to higher education. It is the United Kingdom’s leading higher education news publication. 

TNRD  – The Transnational Research Degree Framework is a new mode of completing a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Masters of Philosophy (MPhil) or Masters by Research at distance.

Trade unions - Organisations with members who are usually workers or employees, which looks after their interests at work through activties such as negotiating agreements with employers on pay and conditions. Large trade unions within the UK include UNITE, UNISON and UCU (University and College Union).

Transparency  – Making an institution’s processes visible and comprehensible to interested parties outside that institution, such as external examiners, quality control committees and the general public.

Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) – A uniform approach to the costing of activities undertaken by all UK HEIs since 2002.

Tuition feesTuition fees were first introduced in the UK in 1998 as a means of funding tuition to undergraduate and postgraduate certificate students at universities. Nowadays, fees for undergraduates vary depending on where students are from (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the EU, or further afield) and what they are studying, but for many students can be up to £9,250 per year.

For more information, see the UCAS guidance on undergraduate tuition fees and student loans.

Postgraduate fees also vary considerably; for more information, see the UCAS guidance on postgraduate fees and funding.

Turnitin – a system for electronic submission of coursework. Turnitin is software used in the detection of plagiarism, comparing the content of student assignments against a large resource of existing materials.

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UCAS: Universities and Colleges Admissions Service - The British admission service for students applying to university and college. 

UCEA: Universities and Colleges Employers Association – The Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA– provides members with timely advice and guidance on employment matters pivotal to the higher education sector

UKVI: United Kingdom Visa and Immigration – The government agency supervising entry and temporary and permanent immigration into the UK. Of particular interest to universities as, following a number of notorious cases, the validity of the visas of international or transnational students studying here are subject to scrutiny, and these students provide significant income to universities. 

UKCISA: UK Council for International Student Affairs – An organisation promoting and protecting the needs of international students studying in the UK and HE staff supporting them. 

UKRI: UK Research and Innovation - A body founded in 2018 which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish.

Universe – Coventry University’s student record system (CU)

ULT – Coventry’s University Leadership Team

Undergraduate – Student working towards a first degree, foundation degree, higher education certificate or diploma or equivalent.

Under-represented groups – Groups that have participation rates significantly below the national average for the cohort under consideration. Examples of such groups may be:

• people from low-income backgrounds

• people from lower socio-economic groups

• people from low participation neighbourhoods

• certain minority ethnic groups

• disabled people

Universe- student and course records system

University Alliance – Formed in 2006, University Alliance is a group of 23 business-engaged universities in the United Kingdom, including CU. Members focus on combining science and technological research for the benefit and development of professions, businesses and communities, as well as supporting academic learning and providing a quality student experience. 

Universities – Universities are diverse, ranging in size, mission and history. The Secretary of State has the power to grant university status to an institution. Former polytechnics were given the status of universities under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. These are sometimes called ‘new’ universities or post-1992 universities. The pre-1992 or ‘old’ universities include many founded in the 1950s and 1960s, the civic universities established in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, which date from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

Universities UK – An umbrella group representing the views and interests of the vice-chancellors and principals of universities and other higher education bodies in the UK. 

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Validation – The process by which a course is judged to have met the requirements for an award by the relevant degree-awarding body, or the relevant examining body, or by an accredited institution on behalf of that degree-awarding body.

VCVice-Chancellor. In most UK and Commonwealth (or former Commonwealth) nations, the Vice-Chancellor (VC) is the day-to-day chief executive of a university who discharges most of its administrative duties. He or she may also carry a title such as “President & Vice-Chancellor”. The current VC of CU is Professor John Latham. See also Chancellor (above).

Viva AKA Viva voce – viva voce means by or with the living voice, so the viva is a spoken examination commonly used for research degrees and some taught master’s programmes. The student has to answer questions and defend the written thesis that they have submitted, demonstrating that it is their own original work and they understand its relationship to the wider research field.

VLE – Virtual Learning Environment – a VLE is an online system that allows students to study and learn online, access learning resources, and interact with fellow students and staff. Coventry University uses Aula.

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Widening access; widening participation – This is when a funding council, institution or other organisation implements policies and engages in activities designed to ensure that all those with the potential to enter, succeed and benefit from higher education have the opportunity to do so- whatever their background and whenever they need it.

Work-based learning – Learning delivered by a university, college or other training provider in the workplace, normally under the supervision of a person from the same company as well as a professional teacher from outside the company.

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