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  • Academic year (AY):
    The session from 1 August to 31 July.
  • Access:
    The policy of ensuring that students from disadvantaged backgrounds and deprived areas access new learning opportunities.
  • Access courses:
  • Access courses are designed to prepare students who do not have standard entry qualifications for higher education courses.
  • 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.
  • Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges (APUC):
    The procurement centre of expertise for Scotland's universities and colleges. 
  • Assessment credits:
    A programme element of a course, typically 40 hours in duration.

  • Age profile:
    The age of students entering further education colleges, grouped accordingly into age bands.

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  • 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.
  • Bibliometrics:
    Bibliometrics is the generic term for data about publications. This includes data on the numbers of articles and publications produced, classified under different headings such as author, institution, subject area, country, in order to construct simple indicators of productivity for academic research. It also includes more sophisticated techniques such as the number of times an article is 'cited', or mentioned, in other publications. Bibliometrics have been used to derive indicators of quality by many countries and organisations. They were explored as a potential element for use in the UK-wide Research Excellence Framework.

  • British Universities Finance Directors Group (BUFDG):
    The representative body for finance office staff in the higher education sector in the UK. 
  • Bursaries:
    Bursaries offer financial help for students to help them successfully complete their studies. SFC provides colleges with bursary funds to support their students studying up to but not including Higher National Certificate (HNC) level.  Eligible Scottish domiciled students studying for more advanced qualifications (HNC and above) at college or university apply to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for publicly funded bursaries.

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  • Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA):
    The professional body for people working in public finance.
  • Collaborative arrangements:
    A general term for arrangements between two or more institutions (universities or colleges) for joint activity.
  • Colleges Scotland:
    An umbrella group representing the views and interests of the principals of colleges in Scotland.
  • 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.
  • Curriculum for Excellence:
    The Scottish Government's strategy for transforming the learning experience for all young people in Scotland.

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  • Delivery partners:
    The bodies and organisations with which we work to achieve our outcomes.
  • Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DBIS):
    UK Government department responsible for business as well as further, higher and adult education.
  • Department for Employment and Learning for Northern Ireland (DELNI)
    DELNI is responsible for distributing public money for teaching and research to universities and higher education institutions in Northern Ireland. 
  • Department for Work and Pensions (DWP):
    Responsible for welfare and pension policy.
  • 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.
  • Disability Discrimination Act (1995) (DDA):
    UK legislation setting out the rights of disabled people not to encounter unjustified discrimination in society on account of a disability.
  • Disability Rights Commission (DRC):
    An independent body established to eliminate discrimination against disabled people and to promote equality of opportunity.
  • Disabled Student Allowance (DSA):
    An allowance for disabled students in higher education.

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  • Education Scotland:
    Education Scotland evaluates the quality of pre-school education, all schools, teacher education, community learning and development, further education and local authorities
  • e-Learning:
    The delivery of content via electronic media, such as the internet, video, interactive TV and CD-ROM. Encompasses all learning undertaken, whether formal or informal, through electronic delivery.
  • Employability skills:
    The transferable core skills, knowledge, and attitudes required in today's workplace. They are necessary for career success at all levels of employment and for all levels of education.
  • English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL):
    The Scottish Government's Adult ESOL strategy aims to give all Scottish residents, for whom English is not a first language, the opportunity to access high quality English language provision.
  • Equal opportunities:
    The prevention, elimination or regulation of discrimination between persons on grounds of sex, marital status, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, language or social origin, or of other personal attributes including religious beliefs or political opinions.
  • European Social Fund (ESF):
    One of the EU's Structural Funds aimed at improving living standards across EU Member States and regions, by giving citizens more opportunities to improve skills and job prospects.
  • Extended Learning Support (ELS):
    Additional support available to students who have a disability or who have learning needs.

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  • Financial memorandum:
    The financial memorandum is an agreement between SFC and the institutions it funds that sets out the terms and conditions for payment of SFC grants.
  • Further education (FE):
    Further education courses offer a wide range of vocational qualifications below the level of HNCs and HNDs.  Further education takes place in colleges.
  • Further education colleges (FECs):
    See 'Further education'.
  • Further Education Statistics (FES):
    Data provided by colleges to SFC which inform decisions relating to college grant allocations.
  • Full-time equivalent (FTE):
    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.
  • Funding councils:
    The Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) comprise the funding councils for higher education in the UK. In Northern Ireland universities and higher education institutions are funded directly by the Department of Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland (DELNI).

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  • Governing body:
    The court, council, board of governors or other body ultimately responsible for the affairs of a university or college. This will contain a large number of 'lay members' who are not from within the sectors and give their time voluntarily.

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  • Higher education (HE):
    Higher education courses are programmes leading to qualifications, or credits which can be counted towards qualifications.  They include HNCs, HNDs, degree courses, and postgraduate courses. Higher education takes place in universities and higher education institutions, and 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 and the Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund National Co-ordination Team.
  • Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE):
    HEFCE is responsible for distributing public money for teaching and research to universities and higher education institutions in England.  
  • Higher Education Funding Council in Wales (HEFCW):
    HEFCW is responsible for distributing public money for teaching and research to universities and higher education institutions in Wales.
  • Higher education institutions (HEIs):
    HEIs is a general term used for education institutions that do not have a university title.  However, as with universities, they provide courses that lead to qualifications including HNCs, HNDs, degree courses, and postgraduate courses. HEIs is also commonly used when talking about universities and HEIs as a group.
  • Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA):
    HESA collects, analyses and reports on higher education statistics for universities and colleges in the UK.
  • Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE):
    HIE is the Scottish Government's economic and community development agency for Scotland's Highlands and Islands region. HIE aims to build sustainable economic growth in all parts of the Highlands and Islands.

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  • Impact:
    The element of the Research Excellence Framework that seeks to assess the benefits of research to society including but not limited to economic, policy, culture and quality of life.

  • Intellectual property rights (IPR):
    Intellectual property rights protect the creator's right to be appropriately acknowledged for their work, such as an invention or a manuscript. IPR gives the creator a means of controlling how their protected work is exploited, thereby ensuring that they are properly rewarded for their creative endeavours. Includes patents, registered trademarks and copyright.

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  • JANET:
    High-speed computer network for the academic community.
  • Jisc:
    Jisc is funded by the UK higher education funding bodies to provide world-class leadership in the innovative use of ICT to support education and research.
  • Jiscmail:
    An email list service to facilitate discussion, collaboration and communication within the UK academic community.

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  • Knowledge exchange (KE):
    Knowledge exchange is the process by which universities, HEIs, and colleges' knowledge, expertise and intellectually linked assets are constructively applied beyond further and higher education for the wider benefit of the economy and society, through two-way engagement with business, the public sector, cultural and community partners.

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  • Leadership Foundation:
    The Leadership Foundation provides a dedicated service of support and advice on leadership, governance and management for all the UK's HEIs.
  • 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.

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  • More Choices, More Chances (MCMC):
    The Scottish Government's action plan to reduce the proportion of young people not in education employment or training.

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  • National Performance Framework:
    The Scottish Government's performance framework for Scotland which includes the 15 'National Outcomes'.
  • National Union of Students (NUS):
    A confederation of local student representative organisations in colleges and universities throughout the United Kingdom.
  • Non-departmental Public Body (NDPB):
    NDPB's have a role in national government but are not government departments. They operate at arm's length from Ministers, although Ministers remain accountable to Parliament for their performance. SFC is an NDPB.

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  • Outcome agreements:
    Outcome Agreements between SFC and colleges define the expectations of learners, businesses, communities and SFC. Central to Outcome Agreements is the progress of the college sector towards achieving the Scottish Government’s National Priorities through the provision of post-16 learning.
  • Overseas students:
    Overseas students are defined as students from outside the European Community.

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  • Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE):
    The Scottish Government's national strategic partnership framework for responding to redundancy situations.
  • Peer review:
    Peer review is a system whereby research - or a research proposal or journal article - is scrutinised by independent experts (peers). In general, the process looks to ensure the research is sound, though also at whether it is significant or important. It is used in several ways in the UK: by the UK HE funding bodies, to assess the research quality in universities in the RAE and REF; by other funding bodies such as research councils and charities for advice on which research projects should be funded; and to assess the quality and significance of research before publication in scientific journals.

  • Performance indicators (PIs):
    A set of indicators produced by which measure the performance of institutions in a number of areas.
  • Personal Learning and Support Plans (PLSP): 
    Colleges making claims for funding of additional support needs activity complete this form detailing an individuals students learning and educational support needs.
  • Post-1992 universities:
    HEIs which acquired university status as a result of the provisions of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992.
  • Pre-1992 universities:
    HEIs which had university status before the provisions of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 came into force.

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

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  • Research Councils UK: There are seven subject-specific Research Councils. They are funded by the UK Government to support research in their own establishments and to fund research projects in universities.
  • Research Excellence Framework (REF):
    An exercise carried out periodically to determine the quality of research in UK HEIs. The results are used by the higher education funding bodies for Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland to allocate quality-related research funding.
  • Research Pooling:
    Areas where SFC has worked together with universities and higher education institutions to create new opportunities for world-class research excellence in Scotland.
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  • Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF):
    A framework which promotes lifelong learning in Scotland. The framework is managed by the SCQF partnership, a registered charity made up of several organisations.  
  • Scottish Enterprise:
    A NDPB which encourages economic development, enterprise, innovation and investment in business. The body covers the eastern, central and southern parts of Scotland.
  • Scottish Funding Council (SFC):
    SFC is the national, strategic body that is responsible for funding teaching and learning provision, research and other activities in Scotland's colleges and universities. 
  • Scottish Government Lifelong Learning Directorate (SGLLD):
    The Directorate is responsible for Scottish Government policy on all aspects of learning that take place after people leave school - from basic employability training through to post-doctoral research.
  • Scottish Public Finance Manual (SPFM):
    The SPFM is issued by the Scottish Ministers to provide guidance to the Scottish Government and other relevant bodies on the proper handling and reporting of public funds.  
  • Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC):
    The co-ordinating body of trade unions, and local Trades Councils in Scotland. As at 2010, the STUC represented around 630,000 trade unionists. Their policy framework is set by their Annual Congress. The STUC is a completely separate and autonomous organisation from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) of Great Britain.
  • Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA):
    The national accreditation and awarding body in Scotland.
  • Sector Skills Councils (SSCs):
    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.
  • Service Level Agreement (SLA):
    The SLA is a part of a service contract where the level of service is formally defined.
  • 16+ Learning Choices:
    The senior phase of Curriculum for Excellence.
  • Skills Development Scotland (SDS):
    A NDPB, created from Careers Scotland, Learndirect Scotland and the skills functions of Scottish Enterprise and Highland & Islands Enterprise. It aims to bring about change in Scotland by linking skills supply and demand and by supporting people and organisations to develop these skills.
  • Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs): 
    SMEs are companies whose headcount or turnover falls below certain limits.
  • Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS):
    SAAS is a Scottish Government agency.  Its purpose is to assess and pay student support for individuals entering and continuing in higher education (HNC courses and above).  
  • SuperJANET:
    The advanced fibre optic computer network linking universities and colleges in the UK. A development of JANET - the joint academic network.
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  • Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC):
    A uniform approach to the costing of activities undertaken by all UK HEIs since 2002.
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  • 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, lower socio-economic groups, low participation neighbourhoods, certain minority ethnic groups or disabled people.
  • Universities Scotland:
    An umbrella group representing the views and interests of the vice-chancellors and principals of universities and HEIs in Scotland.

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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.

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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 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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