Advanced Standing

Assuming that you can meet the admission requirements for the degree in which you want to enrol (including bachelor equivalence for higher degrees), the next important issue is whether you can gain advanced standing for units in the course (unless you want to complete – and pay the tuition fees for – the entire course in accordance with the course rules). Australian universities and their faculties make their own (often quite different) rules about the maximum amount of advanced standing which can be granted to students for their courses.

Although advanced standing is often mentioned in course descriptions, I have never found that the information provided is helpful for German students! The first reason is that the rules governing advanced standing are never clearly defined on the websites of the universities. The second reason is that although you will sometimes find a reference to an advanced standing database, this usually only contains references to standard agreements between universities, and the chances that you will find an entry in the database which covers your German university and which suits your needs is approaching nil!

However, you should not despair, because advanced standing can be negotiated on an individual basis.

On this issue I suggest that you look at this following report on the ASO website.

A General Tip for Obtaining Advanced Standing

Advanced Standing is normally granted only after you have shown that you have studied units which are equivalent to the units required by the regulations of the degree in question. How easy this is to achieve depends very much on these regulations. Usually this means that the content of the units which you have studied previously must contain at least 80% of the material taught in the unit for which you are seeking advanced standing.

If the course has completely free electives (i.e. electives that give you the freedom to study any unit offered by any faculty), then it may be fairly easy to obtain advanced standing for such units, because the Australian university might accept any units which you have studied in Germany.

If the course has some relatively free electives (e.g. any unspecified unit from a particular faculty) then the Australian university might accept any corresponding units which you have already studied (e.g. units from the corresponding faculty at your German university). If the course regulations require you to choose units from a specified list of elective units, then you will normally need to have studied equivalent units in Germany in order to obtain advanced standing.

For each core unit (compulsory unit) defined in the Australian course regulations you will have to demonstrate that you have already successfully passed a similar unit in another course which you have already taken (e.g. in Germany), or you will have to study that unit.

The consequence of all this is that it is generally easier to obtain sufficient advanced standing to complete a course over two semesters if the course contains a number of completely unspecified or partially unspecified units.

Finally you should remember that the granting of advanced standing for units in a course is always at the discretion of the Australian university (or faculty) and that this is never automatic. Furthermore there are many factors over and above those which I have mentioned here that determine your chances of obtaining advanced standing.

Advanced Standing for 6 Semester Bachelor Degrees

In the best case in Australia you will receive advanced standing for a maximum of 2/3 of the credit points for a bachelor degree course. This means that for a 6 semester bachelor degree up to four semesters of advanced standing can be granted, so that for 6 semester bachelor degrees it may be possible for a German student to complete a 6 semester bachelor degree in Australia in 2 semesters. But you will have to prove that you have studied sufficient similar units in Germany to obtain advanced standing for four semesters.

Be warned that this will create a lot of bureaucratic work for you and for your German university! Consider instead postponing your Australian studies until you have attained bachelor equivalence, because gaining advanced standing for postgraduate coursework degrees creates a lot less work for all concerned.

Advanced Standing for 8 Semester Bachelor Degrees

Even if the advanced standing rule allows for the possible granting of 2/3 of the credit points for a course this is not usually enough for German students in areas involving a four year Australian bachelor degree (i.e. in the degrees controlled by professional bodies, such as in engineering, architecture, etc.). In such cases the minimum time in which a student could in principle complete the bachelor degree would be 2/3 of 8, i.e. 3 semesters. Even then that will rarely be possible, because professional degrees seldom contain many free electives (see section 4.1 above) and often have very specific requirements.

Advanced Standing for 2 Semester Bachelor Honours Degrees

For bachelor honours degrees which are treated as separate 2 semester degrees (after completing the six semester pass degree) you will have virtually no chance of receiving advanced standing, first because the course is so short, but also because the Australian university will want to gather its own evidence that your research abilities are sufficient for admission to a higher research degree. If as a German student you can show that you have already completed a bachelor pass degree (All German bachelor degrees are pass degrees in this sense) in the same subject area with good marks (i.e. marks which are sufficient to satisfy the faculty concerned) then you may be permitted to enrol in the 2 semester honours degree (and of course complete this in two semesters). Hence although you will have no chance of obtaining advanced standing, you will be able to complete the degree in 2 semesters.

Advanced Standing for 8 Semester Bachelor Honours Degrees

For honours degrees which are an integrated part of a four year bachelor degree there is absolutely no chance of receiving sufficient advanced standing to allow for completion of the degree in two semesters and only a very small chance of obtaining advanced standing for more than a few semesters.

Advanced Standing for Coursework Master Degrees

In most cases there may be a rule which allows advanced standing to be granted for up to 1/3 of the credit points for the course. This means that the best you can often hope for is to complete a 3 semester coursework master degree in 2 semesters.

For a 4 semester master degree you are also unlikely to receive advanced standing for more than one semester, but if you are very lucky – and the units are all based on four per semester – then you might, at least in theory, receive credit for five units, allowing you to complete the degree in 3 semesters, whereby in one of these semesters you will only need to enrol in three (instead of the standard four) units. There are also other exceptional circumstances which sometimes make it possible for a student to obtain two semesters of advanced standing for a four semester master by coursework degree.

Nevertheless you should normally think at the master level of receiving advanced standing for not more than one semester.

Important Note: Many, but not all, Australian faculties/universities insist that the German units which are offered as evidence of equivalence to Australian master by coursework units should have been studied at the postgraduate level in Germany. In order to obtain advanced standing for Australian master units in this case, you will have had to study in a German master course for at least one semester, or have equivalent units in a Diplom, Magister or Staatsexamen course. Since most students begin their Australian courses in Semester 1 (which at most universities begins at about the end of February or early March) it will often be convenient for German students who complete their bachelor degree in the German Summer Semester to then register in Germany for a Master course in the following Winter Semester in order to take units which can be considered for advanced standing in Australia.

Advanced Standing for Graduate/Postgraduate Diploma Awards

For graduate awards at the diploma level the usual postgraduate advanced standing rules for master degrees will normally apply, i.e. not more than 1/3 of the credit points for the diploma can be granted as advanced standing. This means in the normal case that not more than two standard units (out of 8) will be granted as advanced standing.

However, if the graduate/postgraduate diploma is designed as an exit point for a master degree (see chapter 4, section 5.1) then you can hope (without guarantee) for a different application of the rules. In this case you enrol in the coursework master degree and apply for advanced standing for one semester. If you receive this you can then apply after one semester to exit from the course with the Diploma. This may be possible because the exit rules may allow you to exit with the diploma after completion of the credit points for 2 semesters. Since you will have received the advanced standing credit points plus the credit points for the units which you have actually studied in your first semester, you will have fulfilled this requirement! But how such a procedure is actually viewed depends on the university rules and on the individual rules of different faculties.

Important Note: The important note which appears in section 4.5 above applies also in the case of diploma awards.

Advanced Standing for Graduate Certificate Awards

In principle it may be possible for you to gain advanced standing for a maximum of one unit out of four standard units, but the likelihood that this will succeed is very low! I have never experienced that a student has obtained advanced standing when enrolled in a Certificate course. In this case also the Important Note in section 4.5 would be relevant.