GLOSSARY: Terms relating to first years

Key terms used in these support sites and in the literature

Browse the glossary using this index

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ATAR stands for Australian Tertiary Admission Rank. ATAR is a calculated score that allows admission to university undergraduate courses (or programs). For more information see SATAC: Undergraduate entry requirements.

Entry link: ATAR


Attrition is the term used to describe students leaving university prior to graduation who do not complete the course in which they are enrolled. The most recent available data on attrition, success and retention can be found on the Australian Government's Department of Education and Training website. 

Entry link: Attrition


First generation

First generation is a term used (mainly in the United States) to describe students who are the first member of their generation (siblings) within a family to attend university. It is similar to First in Family or FiF but first generation students may have parents who have attended university.

Entry link: First generation

First in Family (FiF)

First in Family or FiF is a term used to describe students who are the first member of the family (parents, siblings, care-givers etc.) to attend university. These students are considered to be at a disadvantage from students who are not FiF because they do not have opportunities to discuss their experiences of university with family. The First in Family website is 'designed for current and intending university students who are the first in their immediate family to go to university, as well as for their families and for all those who work within the higher education sector.' The "Exploring First in Family" also provides a range of resources for staff, students and caregivers of FiF students. 

Entry link: First in Family (FiF)

First year

First year in this instance means students who are in their first year at university (higher education). They could be studying in the first year of a program, or they may have entered at second year or another year. They might have come direct from school, or worked for a few years, or studied elsewhere. Like all cohorts, they may be from varied socioeconomic backgrounds, a range of cultures, or first in family. In other words, the term first year in the context of higher education covers a range of variables.

More information: Teaching first year students (Flinders University)

Entry link: First year


FYE stands for 'First Year Experience' and is a term often used to refer to the community of researchers and practitioners who work with first year students. 

Entry link: FYE


FYHE stands for First Year in Higher Education. For resources and the journal Student Success visit the FYHE Centre.

Entry link: FYHE



GPA stands for Grade Point Average. The GPA is the average result of all the grades achieved throughout the degree. It is calculated on a 7-point grading scale where 7 is the highest and 0 is the lowest. Fail grades are included in the calculation.

Entry link: GPA



Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) refers to a range of Australian Government policy reforms and funding to support students from low socio-economic status (Low ses) backgrounds and Indigenous students (see HEPPP for more information).  

Entry link: HEPPP


Learning analytics

'Learning analytics' is used as a generic term to encompass a wide range of activities linked to the electronic traces students leave when they learn in any online contexts. Siemens and Baker (2012), Siemens and Long (2011) and others propose differentiating between Learning Analytics (LA) and other related activities, alternately known as Educational Data Mining (EDM) or Academic Analytics (AA). EDM/AA have the goal of predicting success and retention at the institutional level and use automated methods for collating and interpreting data. On the other hand, LA aims to 'improve student performance in individual courses, by measuring, collecting, analysing, and reporting data related to student learning, participatory, and performanceā€related behaviours' (Long & Siemens, 2011, as cited in Buerck & Mudigonda, 2014), emphasising the role of people in making sense of the data.

Source: Learning analytics and FLO (eLearning Gateway)

Entry link: Learning analytics

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