Who’s Credit is it Anyway?19 October 2018
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to transfer into a course at UniMelb? Are you not getting much fun out of accounting or Habermas? Well, you’re in luck, because you can transfer either as a University of Melbourne student or from a rival university.
Farrago did some research into the paperwork and experiences from students of what it means to have your own “credits” recognised at the University beyond the conventional ways of passing a subject here. Cross-institutional study is the opportunity to study at another Australian institution, transfer to another course within UniMelb or apply for overseas exchange.
All transfers must go through go through the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre—whether or not you’re currently studying at UniMelb.
Similar to when you first applied, you preference your most desired institution from one to eight. Applications usually open in August if you want to be in the semester one intake for the following year.
You also have the potential to get what’s called “advanced standing”, which is essentially transferring certain subject units to your new degree. Depending on the process, you can get up to a year waived before you begin.
“[The process] is pretty easy, you just have to go through the advanced standing application online for UniMelb. They ask you what subjects you did at the other uni and to attach the subject info and stuff,” said Joseph Paglia, a recent transferee from RMIT University.
According to the University’s credit policy, the maximum points a student can get from studying at another institution is 50 per cent of the total points of the course, in this case 150 credits or 12 subjects. However, the amount a student can get transferred to advanced standing is done by on a case by case basis and within the scope of “equivalent” subjects. As such, there are two types of advanced standing: general where you can shorten your degree, and exemption where you get a waiver on a prerequisite but may have to still do a certain number of credits.
However, there are potentially issues with the process in terms of what the University deems are equivalent credits. At other universities in Australia, a subject that is a third-year level unit could be considered first- or second-year here.
“I came from another university which had more subjects surrounding the units I took as part of a major. I don’t even think the University has a specialisation surrounding it,” said T, a transferee who is now doing a Bachelor of Arts and on exchange. The scope of the handbook also can be confusing sometimes, especially when it comes to applying for exchange which is a different process all in itself.
“Stop 1 didn’t tell me that the University had an exemption from [certain credit requirements] in the [European Union] and I was desperately trying to get the credits I needed so I could come here. I ended up emailing my destination University who were like ‘What? You don’t need 120 credits if you’re from [Melbourne].’”
Much of the process is finding equivalent subjects then writing if you want it credited as a breadth, core or elective; there is ambiguity on what constitutes, “equivalent”. For example, a third year education subject at McGill University may be seen as a level one breadth here at UniMelb and it depends on the country and institution—even academic dates. Another example is, in the United States, particularly with the University of California system, the academic year is divided into ‘quarters’.
Much of the legwork in getting your credits recognised comes from you searching the fine print and emailing or contacting different avenues.
Hayley Baker is a swimmer for the Australian National team and has cross-credited much of her degree at Open Universities Australia and the Australian National University.
“I’m still a UniMelb Student. I have to get the subjects i choose approved by the relevant course coordinator then apply though Stop 1. Because I’m an athlete, I have access to flexible study assistance which helps things get processed smoothly,” said Baker.
What if you’re not an athlete and in Melbourne for most of the year but want to experience a different institution? According to the University’s website, you must lodge an application four weeks before the next session, get approval, lodge evidence and submit documents online. However, there are limits on how many subjects you can cross-credit.
“All students are only allowed 100 cross-institutional credit points so that’s how many I get too,” said Baker, who’s decided to use her last 100 UniMelb credit points cross credited in Canberra, where she trains.
It seems all of the processes surrounding a student’s credits, whether they are external or not, would have to require a degree of approval. However, the existence of which is often overlooked by the general student population and as a result, much of the work comes from a little bit of digging.