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Advanced Standing Policy

This is the current version of this document. To view historic versions of this document click the link in the main navigation (grey) bar above or contact policies@westernsydney.edu.au for versions that expired pre 1 June 06.

Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) This policy outlines the principles that underpin the University's approach to giving students advanced standing in coursework undergraduate, postgraduate and honours programs, and the Master of Research. It also sets out the procedures to be followed by staff in considering applications for advanced standing and the procedures to be followed by students in applying.

(2) The policy applies to all applications for, and awards of, advanced standing, including advanced standing covered by articulation pathways arrangements with Australian and overseas higher education providers.

(3) This policy does not cover advanced standing for the Master of Philosophy, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Professional Doctorates, as advanced standing is not available for those programs. The general provisions of the policy also do not apply to the Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery double degree course, as explained in Section 4 of the policy.

Section 2 - Definitions

(4) The following definitions apply for the purpose of this policy.

  1. Advanced standing - credit, expressed in the form of a specified number of credit points, towards an award course, granted on the basis of previous, successfully completed studies or prior learning.
  2. Credentialled learning - relevant programs or courses undertaken within the workplace, professional organisations or other training contexts, where appropriate certification is available.
  3. Director, Academic Program (DAP) - the academic program leadership role which includes the Director, Academic Program for online courses, also known as the eDAP.
  4. Entry level credit - credit awarded to an applicant at entry to a masters program if they have completed previous study in a related discipline. Such credit is noted on the student's record for the credit points they do not have to study.
  5. Equivalent unit - units that are considered substantially the same in content and learning outcomes between programs of the University.
  6. Exemption - a student can be granted permission to substitute a compulsory or core unit in a course for another approved unit, as they have already completed the requirements for the exempted unit elsewhere. Exemptions are usually given when a student has already received the maximum allowable advanced standing for their course.
  7. Formal learning - completed studies at a recognised University, higher education institution, TAFE or registered training organisation in Australia and recognised international institutions.
  8. Informal learning - demonstrable skills and learning gained from work or life experience.
  9. Nested course sequence - an articulated sequence of courses such as Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma and Masters program.
  10. Non-award units - units of study offered by the University that students enrol in independently of one of the University's award courses.
  11. Shortened duration masters program - a masters program which has a volume of learning less than the typical volume of learning specified by the Australian Qualifications Framework, but is at least 80 credit points.
  12. Specified Advanced Standing - advanced standing given in the form of individual named units against a student's record. The University may give specified advanced standing where prior learning satisfies the learning outcomes of a particular unit taught in the University.
  13. Unspecified Advanced Standing - advanced standing given in the form of credit points only, not relating to individual units. The University may give unspecified advanced standing where the relevant previous learning is broadly consistent with the expected outcomes of the University's course the student intends to take, but where they may not be directly equivalent to the learning outcomes of any specific unit in the program.

Section 3 - Policy Statement

Principles

(5) This policy:

  1. is consistent with the Higher Education Standards Framework;
  2. will be applied fairly and consistently;
  3. seeks to ensure that students have the necessary academic preparation to participate in their intended field of study, while not impeding their progression and completion.

(6) Students granted advanced standing will not be disadvantaged in achieving the expected learning outcomes for their course of study or qualification.

(7) The granting of advanced standing will not diminish the integrity of the course of study and the qualification awarded.

Facilitating Student Pathways

(8) The University aims to ensure that students complete their courses in the shortest duration of study possible, consistent with course requirements and giving formal recognition for any relevant, previously achieved learning.

(9) The granting of advanced standing for previously achieved learning is an acknowledgement by the University that students have gained the knowledge, understanding and skills equivalent to the stated learning outcomes of related programs and units of study offered.

(10) The University recognises that learning takes place in a broad range of contexts - in formal study, in the workplace and in life experience. The granting of advanced standing for previous learning ensures that students commence study at a level that appropriately recognises that learning and ensures that they are not required to repeat successful learning activities in any course of the University.

(11) Applicants for advanced standing may request that their previous learning be assessed for advanced standing towards an undergraduate award (including the coursework component of an Honours award) or a postgraduate coursework award.

(12) The University may grant advanced standing on the basis of:

  1. Completed studies at a recognised University, higher education institution, TAFE or registered training organisation in Australia and recognised international institutions (formal learning); or
  2. Programs or courses undertaken within the workplace, professional organisations or other training contexts, where appropriate certification is available (credentialed learning); or
  3. Demonstrable skills and learning gained from work or life experience that is relevant to the course being studied (informal learning); or
  4. Demonstrated capacity for learning in a formal course beyond the required minimum entry requirements.

Conditions

(13) To protect the integrity of its awards, the University will only award advanced standing for, and as, whole units.

(14) In general, previous learning can only be recognised once, either to meet minimum entry requirements into an award or for credit.

(15) Previous learning deemed as equivalent to the stated learning outcomes for one unit of study cannot be used again for credit for another unit of study.

(16) Applicants must provide appropriately certified documentation to support their application for advanced standing.

(17) Eligibility for advanced standing does not guarantee admission to the University.

Quality Assurance

(18) Academic Senate's Education Committee will review annually the granting of advanced standing to ensure that practices across the Schools are consistent.

(19) Academic Senate may commission comparisons with other universities to ensure that the advanced standing granted by the University is consistent with practice in the sector.

Appeals Against Decisions on Advanced Standing

(20) If an applicant is dissatisfied with the outcome of their advanced standing application, they may appeal against the decision, in accordance with the appeal procedures set out in Section 4, Procedures.

Section 4 - Procedures

Part A - General Information

(21) Advanced standing may be awarded either as specified advanced standing or unspecified advanced standing, or as a combination of both.

(22) Decisions on applications are made by the Associate Director, Admission and Enrolment, or nominee, on the recommendation of the relevant Academic Course Advisor or Director, Academic Program.

(23) The Associate Director, Admission and Enrolment, in consultation with the relevant Academic Course Advisor or Director, Academic Program, has discretion to vary maximum allowable advanced standing that can be granted.

(24) Any application for advanced standing must be looked at in the totality of the student's application.

(25) All previous advanced standing decisions will be reviewed at the time of a new application.

(26) To ensure equitable application of this policy, all determinations on advanced standing must be recorded on the student's record on the central record system.

(27) The University reserves the right to withdraw advanced standing where the documentation provided by the applicant proves to be incomplete, misleading, false or invalid or when an error has been made in assessing or processing the application.

Part B - Limits on Advanced Standing

Undergraduate Courses

(28) Generally the maximum amount of advanced standing given for completed awards will be in accordance with the AQF Qualifications Pathway Policy:

  1. 50% credit for an Advanced Diploma or Associate Degree linked to a 3 year Bachelor Degree;
  2. 37.5% credit for an Advanced Diploma or Associate Degree linked to a 4 year Bachelor Degree;
  3. 33% credit for a Diploma linked to a 3 year Bachelor Degree;
  4. 25% credit for a Diploma linked to a 4 year Bachelor Degree.

(29) The following maximum limits on advanced standing that can be granted in an undergraduate course (including double and combined degree courses), except as specified in clauses below are:

  1. 160 credit points for a 240 credit point degree (i.e. 66 % of the degree).
  2. 240 credit points for a 320 credit point degree (i.e. 75 % of the degree).
  3. 320 credit points for a 400 credit point degree (i.e. 80 % of the degree).

(30) If the advanced standing is to be counted towards a University undergraduate course that is of fewer than 160 credit points in value the student must, irrespective of any advanced standing for which they are eligible, complete half (that is, 50 %) of the total number of credit points for the course as an enrolled student of the University. The exception to this is where the advanced standing is specified as part of an articulation pathways agreement or nested course sequence.

(31) The maximum unspecified advanced standing granted should not exceed the number of credit points available as electives or non-core subjects in the course for which the advanced standing is to be counted.

Bachelor Honours Courses

(32) Advanced standing will not be granted for the thesis component of the Honours award.

Postgraduate Courses

(33) Students will not be given advanced standing in a postgraduate award for units previously studied in a bachelor award. A school may apply to Academic Senate's Academic Planning and Courses Approvals Committee for an exception to be made for certain postgraduate programs.

Entry Level Credit for Masters Programs

(34) Entry level credit for shortened duration masters programs is not treated as advanced standing and is not counted in the limits of allowable advanced standing for masters programs.

(35) The maximum advanced standing that can be granted towards any postgraduate program is 50 per cent of the total credit points for the course, except when a student is progressing through a nested course sequence.

(36) Where a student has covered more content of the postgraduate award than the maximum allowable advanced standing of 50 per cent, the relevant Academic Course Advisor or Director, Academic Program may grant an exemption for core units where the student can demonstrate that they would otherwise be eligible for advanced standing, and allow students to study a substitute unit or units that are relevant to the course learning outcomes.

Course Transfer Arrangements

(37) Where a current student of the University has been given permission to transfer from one award course to another at the same level, they will, upon application, be granted advanced standing for all successfully completed equivalent units in the first course. [Course Transfer Policy]

Advanced Standing towards the Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery

(38) Applications for advanced standing towards the Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) course will only be considered in very exceptional circumstances, by the Dean of the School of Medicine. Those exceptional circumstances are where a student in another Australian Medical Council (AMC) accredited medical course is accepted by the Dean of Medicine for transfer into the MBBS course.

Advanced Standing towards Professionally Accredited Courses

(39) Advanced standing for units in certain professionally accredited courses (eg Law, Nursing) can only be given for units that are considered to be equivalent in a course at another accredited institution.

Time Limits for Currency of Previous Studies

(40) Advanced standing in specified units is not normally granted for studies completed ten years or more prior to application. Where advanced standing is being sought for studies completed ten years or more prior to application, the Academic Course Advisor or Director, Academic Program may require an assessment of the currency of an applicant's knowledge. The University will determine the method of assessment.

Part C - Applying for Advanced Standing

Timelines for Applications and Notifications of Advanced Standing

(41) Applications for advanced standing should be submitted prior to the student commencing their first session of study in a particular course at the University. Applications submitted after this date may not be finalised prior to the census date of that session, which may impact on what advanced standing can be granted.

(42) The University will not grant advanced standing where an application has been made after the approved census date for a unit being studied in that teaching session.

Grades Issued for Advanced Standing

(43) Advanced standing will be allocated the following grades for administrative purposes: Specified (K) and Unspecified (L). Academic marks and grades are not allocated for units for which advanced standing is given, with the exception of the clauses below.

(44) A student wishing to have successfully completed non-award units transferred to a program in which they are enrolled will be granted equivalent advanced standing. If the non-award units have been completed at the University, the grades achieved will be transferred when the student's enrolment in an award program is confirmed.

(45) Postgraduate students progressing through a nested award will have marks and grades transferred to the new program.

(46) Marks and grades will be transferred across to the student's new program where they are required to transition into a replacement course, or if they are transferring from a double degree to a single degree course.

Relinquishing Advanced Standing

(47) If a student can demonstrate valid academic reasons for relinquishing the advanced standing that has been granted, they may apply to Student Administration within the Student Experience Office, providing details of academic reasons for the request. Requests to relinquish advanced standing on the basis of visa/immigration requirements are not considered valid academic reasons.

(48) Variations in advanced standing for international students may impact upon their visa status.

Part D - Appeals

Review of Decision by Director of Academic Program

(49) An applicant for advanced standing who wishes to challenge the decision about their advanced standing must first discuss the matter with Student Administration within the Student Experience Office, whose staff will refer the application to the Director, Academic Program for the course in which the applicant is studying. The Director will determine whether any variation to the decision is appropriate, make a decision and advise the Student Experience Office, in writing. For applications relating to the Master of Research, the Graduate Research School will manage the process and advise the student of the outcome.

(50) If, following consultation with the Director, Academic Program, the student remains dissatisfied with the decision and considers he or she has evidence that meets the grounds specified in Clause 52 to lodge an appeal, he or she may appeal, in writing, to the Chair of the Academic Appeals and Integrity Committee.

Appeals against Determinations Made by the Director, Academic Program

(51) The University provides the right of appeal against decisions on the approval of advanced standing. An appeal must be submitted to the Chair of the Academic Appeals and Integrity Committee in writing within 15 working days of the date of notification of the advanced standing determination.

(52) An appeal can only be made on one of the following grounds, which must be specified and addressed in the appeals letter:

  1. that there is evidence that the decision with regard to the application for advanced standing was made as the result of procedural error or was in breach of procedural fairness; or
  2. where the student considers substantial new information is available that was not available when the decision about a student's application was made.

(53) The appeal will be considered in accordance with the provisions for the Academic Appeals and Integrity Committee available on the Academic Senate Standing Committees webpage.

Section 5 - Guidelines

Related Policies

Academic Senate Standing Committees Web Page

Course Transfer Policy

Honours in Bachelor Awards Policy

Advanced Standing webpage for students