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Academic Credit Policy
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The granting of Academic Credit (also referred to as ‘Credit for Prior Learning’, or 'Advanced Standing’) ensures that students commence study at a level that appropriately recognises their prior learning experiences, and are not required to repeat equivalent learning successfully undertaken in another context.


The International College of Management, Sydney (“the College”) is committed to developing open and accessible guidelines for the granting of credit towards a course of study on the basis of prior learning, whether in the form of formal studies or through professional work experience.


This policy is designed to both maximise the credit students can gain for learning already undertaken and preserve the integrity of learning outcomes or discipline requirements of the award to which it applied.


This policy incorporates the best practice principles outlined in the AQF Qualifications Pathways Policy[1].


[1] Australian Qualifications Framework Handbook – January 2013

This policy is designed to maximise the credit that students can gain, to enhance student progression into and between qualifications.

General Principles

  1. Entry to the College’s courses is based on specific published entry criteria and decisions regarding student selection are made in accordance with the Admissions Policy
  2. An offer of credit does not guarantee admission into a specific course
  3. The assessment of the amount of credit to be granted in particular courses shall be determined by the Heads of School, with approval provided by the DVC (Academic) within the framework of this policy
  4. Regardless of the credit granted, the requirements of each course must be fulfilled
  5. Credit can be given in the form of block, specified or unspecified credit, or any combination of such forms


Principles guiding decisions to grant credit are:

  • Evidence‐based clear, equitable, accessible and transparent
  • Applied consistently and fairly with decisions subject to appeal and review
  • Conscious to recognise prior learning regardless of how, when and where it was acquired, provided that the prior learning is relevant and current and has a relationship to the learning outcomes of the course
  • Academically defensible and take into account the student’s ability to meet the course outcomes and complete the course successfully
  • Decided in a timely manner
  • Formally documented for the student including any reasons for not granting credit


Types of Learning which are Recognised for Credit

The College recognises the following forms of prior learning:

  1. Formal learning
  2. Non-formal learning
  3. Informal / workplace based learning

Maximum Amount of Credit

Candidates seeking an award from the College are required to complete a minimum amount of the course directly through the College. Credit granted for undergraduate and postgraduate courses must comply with the limits set (by the Academic Board) – refer to Schedule 1.

Internal Transfer between Courses

Where a student transfers between courses within the College:

  1. Credit may be granted when a student has completed a subject while undertaking a course within the College and wishes to transfer to another course within the College
  2. Credit will be granted for those subject already undertaken which form part of the course into which the student is transferring
  3. The maximum credit that can be granted in these circumstances is not limited

Granting of Credit

An applicant granted Academic Credit (in any of its forms) will receive a notation on their academic record showing "E" in the Letter Grade column (denoting "exempt"). This will not affect the Grade Point Average (GPA) calculation.

Forms of Credit

Credit can be granted in the form of block, specified or unspecified credit.

Specified Credit: credit granted towards specific subjects. Specified credit is applied when the learning outcomes achieved in a subject undertaken at another higher education provider are deemed equivalent to the learning outcomes of a College subject.

Unspecified credit: credit granted towards elective components of a Course, where an exact or near exact subject equivalence cannot be determined.

Block credit: credit granted for components or groups of subjects within a Course. Block credit is applied where the learning outcomes of a group of subjects or a qualification are deemed comparable to the learning outcomes of a group of subjects within a College course.

Block credit is only granted where the College has formed an agreement (Articulation Agreement) with an approved Higher Education Provider (HEP) or Registered Training Organisation (RTO).


Credit for Formal Studies

The term ‘Credit Transfer’ is used to define the process for granting of credit for formal studies of equivalent subjects completed at a recognised university or college (noting that this can be in the form of specified, unspecified, or block credit).

Credit may be granted for the successful completion of:

  1. Subjects (units of study) which form part of an accredited course provided by a recognised higher education institution
  2. Non-award courses offered by a recognised higher education institution
  3. Accredited courses (AQF Level 5 and above) offered by a registered vocational training provider
  4. Courses provided by a professional association or other similar body
  5. Training delivered by employers or other similar training

Guidelines on granting credit for formal studies

Credit shall be granted where there is substantial overlap with content and/or learning outcomes of the College’s subject, for which credit is claimed.

When assessing credit for formal studies the following will be taken into account:

  1. the general educational practices and standards of the provider(s) or any accreditation obtained by such provider that may be relevant
  2. the objectives of the particular course and the methods adopted to achieve those objectives
  3. admission requirements to the course
  4. the duration of the course, having regard to entry requirements and course objectives
  5. the breadth, depth and balance in the course material involved and the intellectual effort required
  6. the methods of assessment
  7. any arrangements for practical training and experience as part of the course


Currency of Studies
Credit will not normally be granted for formal study completed more than ten years prior to application unless there is evidence of continued relevance of this study for the course towards which credit is sought. Assessment of such is made on a case by case basis.


Articulation Agreements

When negotiating Articulation Agreements the College takes into account the comparability and equivalence of the articulating institution’s course, notably:

  • the learning outcomes;
  • the volume of learning;
  • the content; and
  • learning and assessment approaches

In order to assess the quantum of credit which may be awarded, the College maps the specified learning outcomes for the course provided by the external institution against the learning outcomes of subjects within the relevant College course.  Credit for a subject within the College’s course will only be granted where there is a substantial match against the learning outcomes of that subject.

The existence of a credit agreement does not preclude an individual student applying for additional credit under this policy, however in all cases the total quantum of credit granted must comply with the rules regarding to the maximum credit allowable (refer to Schedule 1).

The Academic Board only approves articulation arrangements after evidence of the mapping of the learning outcomes of the external course against the College’s course underpinning the proposed credit arrangements has been considered.

Once approved by the Academic Board the articulation arrangement is set out in a formal credit agreement, signed by both parties and recorded in the College’s register of approved articulation agreements.

The College maintains a publicly available register, which provides relevant details of all current credit agreements (in accordance with Section 2.3 of the AQF Qualifications Pathways Policy[1]).

Credit for Informal / Work Based Learning

Credit may be granted for work experience where that learning can be documented to the satisfaction of the relevant Head of School, and subject to the approval of the DVC (Academic).  The onus shall be on the applicant to provide appropriate evidence or demonstrate the relevant skills, knowledge and understanding.

When assessing credit for informal / work based learning, the following is taken into account:


the applicant can demonstrate the learning outcomes that are being claimed



the learning outcomes are still valid and performable



the learning has reached an acceptable level



the learning is applicable to the subject claimed



the learning outcome can be applied outside the context in which it was learned



the prior learning is comparable in content and standard with the subject(s) in which credit is sought



Applying for Credit

An application for credit based on prior learning must be made on the appropriate form, and should be lodged at the time of application for admission to a course.  The application must be accompanied by sufficient documentary evidence to support the application. In some circumstances an application for credit may also require an interview, demonstration with an academic qualified to make an assessment and/or a challenge examination.

The burden of evidence for any application for credit rests with the applicant. Evidence must reflect the student’s current levels of knowledge and skills.

It is the applicant’s responsibility to lodge requests for Credit no later than thirty (30) days prior to commencing (or immediately upon College application if applying within thirty days).

It is the applicant's responsibility to respond truthfully and accurately to all sections and questions on the application form(s). An applicant who provides false or misleading information in their application(s) can be disqualified as an applicant for admission, and may be excluded from the College if already enrolled.

The assessment of applications for credit is undertaken by the relevant Head of School, and is subsequently considered by DVC (Academic), with whom the decision to grant credit ultimately rests. To help facilitate the assessment the Heads of School may consult widely.

Once a decision is made, the Registrar advises the applicant, in writing, of the outcome of their application.

A record of any credit granted (including any reasons for not giving credit) is placed in the student’s file.


Appealing a Decision

A student may appeal against a decision on the granting of credit.  The grounds for appeal are that the decision is inconsistent with this policy. The Academic Appeals Committee will respond to the appeal (within twenty working days) and may confirm or vary the decision.  All decisions of the Academic Appeals Committee in relation to appeals are subsequently reported to the Teaching and Learning Committee.

Appeals must be lodged in writing to the Chair of Academic Appeals Committee within ten (10) working days of the student receiving written notification of the decision. The appeal will be responded to within twenty (20) working days and may confirm or vary the decision[2].

Student who are dissatisfied with the outcome of their appeal against a decision regarding the award of credit they may utilise the College’s Student Grievance Handling Policy & Procedure.


Schedule 1

Limits on the Volume of Credit Allowable

The Academic Board may, at its sole discretion, approve an exception to the limits of credit which can be granted.

Course Type

Maximum Credit Allowable

Diploma Courses

50% of the total credit points required for the award

Associate Degree Courses

50% of the total credit points required for the award

Bachelor Degree Courses

Typically 50% of the total credit points required for the award.  However 66.6% (⅔) of the total credit points required for the award is permissible, in cases where appropriate evidence supporting the increased quantum of credit is provided.

Graduate Certificate Courses

50% of the total credit points required for the award

Master Degree Courses

50% of the total credit points required for the award


Undergraduate higher level studies:
In addition to the above, for undergraduate courses usually all 300 level studies are completed at the College. Credit is not normally granted for 300 level subjects.


Note: The AQF guidelines[3], regarding the quantum of guaranteed credit towards a Bachelor, suggest the following:

On the basis of a completed:


AQF recognised Advanced Diploma or Associate Degree


AQF recognised Diploma



 [NB: The total credited granted may comprise a mixture of credit for formal study (Credit Transfer) and credit for work experience (RPL)]


Typically a minimum of 50% of the total credit points of a course of study must be completed at the College in order to be eligible for a College award[4]


[1] As set out in the Australian Qualifications Framework Handbook – January 2013

[2] All decisions of the Academic Appeals Committee in relation to appeals are subsequently reported to the Teaching and Learning Committee

[4] Exemptions to the usual maximum of 50% - are only approved where appropriate evidence is available, and may require specific approval by the Academic Board

This policy acknowledges that students may have followed different pathways into study at ICMS and may have previously gained knowledge and skills equivalent to ICMS learning outcomes in one or more subjects or competencies.

ICMS in developing this Policy followed the guidelines specified in the AQF Qualifications Pathways Policy.

This policy applies to applicants or students currently enrolled in a higher education program who are seeking Academic Credit based on:

  • Successful completion of an accredited subject and/or
  • Recognition of their informal learning through work or life experience

Academic Credit is the umbrella term the College uses to describe the granting of credit. This process occurs in 3 forms:

  1. Credit Transfer - i.e. credit for studies of equivalent subjects completed at a recognised university or college (noting that this comes in the form of either specific credit or block credit)
  2. Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) – credit granted for informal / work based learning
  3. Articulation – an agreement which enables students to progress from a program at another institution to a program at the College, with a specified quantum of credit

This is shown in the diagram below:

Further reading
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Advanced Standing - Application Form