7. Courses of study

7.1 - Courses of study

A course of study is:
•    a single course leading to a higher education award (see part 7.2)
•    a course recognised by the provider as a combined or double degree leading to one or more higher education awards; or
•    an enabling course (see part 7.7) [HESA Schedule 1].

7.2 - Higher education awards

A higher education award is:

  • a degree, status, title or description of bachelor, master, or doctor
  • an award of graduate diploma or graduate certificate; or
  • any other award specified as a higher education award under the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF[HESA Schedule 1].

The higher education award is the accredited award. The title of the higher education award is not necessarily the same title that appears on the student’s testamur. For example, a provider may have an accredited Bachelor of Engineering award, but the student’s testamur includes the student’s civil engineering major and may appear as a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil). In this case, the Bachelor of Engineering is the course of study. In other cases, a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) may be a different course of study to a Bachelor of Engineering and is, therefore, a separate award.

7.3 - Course specialisations or streams

Streams within courses are considered the same course only if they lead to the same qualification. Streams leading to separate awards are considered separate courses.


If the following streams lead to the awarding of the same Bachelor of Arts qualification, they are treated as one course:

  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Arts (History)
  • Bachelor of Arts (Visual Arts).

If the streams lead to the awarding of three separate qualifications, they are treated as separate courses of study.

7.4 - Combined and double degree programs

A combined or double degree program that leads to two higher education awards, for example, a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws, is considered one course of study.

7.5 - Undergraduate courses of study

An undergraduate course of study is:

  • a diploma that is not accredited as a vocational education and training (VET) award
  • an advanced diploma that is not accredited as a VET award
  • an associate degree
  • a bachelor degree; or
  • an honours program.

Some undergraduate courses of study are described as graduate entry courses because a student is required to complete a bachelor degree prior to enrolling in the course. Upon completing the graduate entry course, the student will receive an undergraduate award, rather than a postgraduate award, so the course is an undergraduate course of study.

7.6 - Postgraduate courses of study

A postgraduate course of study leads to one or more of the following higher education awards:

  • graduate certificate that is not accredited as a VET award
  • graduate diploma that is not accredited as a VET award
  • master degree; or
  • doctoral degree; and
  • does not lead to any other higher education award.

The AQF includes a number of master degree qualification types. The AIP mostly provides guidance in relation to non-research master degree courses.

7.7 - Enabling courses

An enabling course is a course of instruction provided to a person for the purpose of enabling that person to undertake a course leading to a higher education award, but does not include a course that:

  • leads to a higher education award
  • is accredited as leading to a VET award; or
  • the Minister determines is not an enabling course [HESA Schedule 1 and Ministerial determination].

A provider’s purpose in enrolling a student in a course of instruction determines whether it is an enabling course. Therefore, a course of instruction may be an enabling course for only some students undertaking it.

While it is possible for students to receive credit towards a higher education award course for units of study undertaken in their enabling course, a course that consists primarily of units of study that lead to the higher education award that students are preparing to undertake, would not be an enabling course. This is because it would not be consistent with the intention of the definition of ‘enabling course’ in HESA.

Students who complete an enabling course would generally commence a course of study leading to a higher education award. Some students may not do so, but a course is not an enabling course if it is not being provided to assist the students to pursue a course leading to a higher education award.

Students undertaking an enabling course in a CSP do not pay a student contribution. To assist providers with the cost of providing places in enabling courses, providers are paid an enabling loading through the CGS. For further information on enabling loading, see the Administrative Information for Providers: Commonwealth Grant Scheme or email the department at CGS@dese.gov.au.

Education delivered to students to assist them in successfully completing tertiary education, of a nature usually delivered at secondary school or through vocational education, commonly known as ‘Foundation Studies’ or ‘Foundation Courses’ that typically do not lead to a qualification are not considered enabling courses for the purposes of HESA [Ministerial determination].

7.8 - Non‑award studies

If a student is enrolled with a provider in a subject or unit that may be undertaken as part of a course of study, a course of instruction, or a tuition and training program, but the unit, course or program is not being undertaken as part of a course of study, then the enrolment is on a non-award basis [HESA Schedule 1].

7.9 - Activating courses for HELP in the Information Technology System

A provider approved to deliver FEE-HELP must comply with the tuition assurance requirements set out in the HEP Guidelines. From 2018, the department has taken on responsibility for administering tuition assurance. Most providers have been exempt from needing to meet the tuition assurance requirements set out in the HEP Guidelines, and instead have been issued specific conditions to which they must abide. These conditions will remain in place until the department contacts providers about alternative arrangements. Newly approved providers will have tuition assurance conditions established as part of the approval process.

When a course is accredited for delivery by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) and appears on the National Register of higher education providers, it is listed in the HELP Information Technology System (HITS). This list is updated approximately once every month.

Once tuition assurance conditions have been established and documentation has been uploaded to HITS, the provider should adjust the course status from ‘Details Required’ to ‘Active’. For further assistance, refer to the HITS User Guide.

The department continually monitors providers to assist them in complying with the quality and accountability requirements defined in HESA Division 19.