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Unassigned Credit in the BC Transfer System

BCCAT staff have observed that a significant percentage of articulations in the BC Transfer Guide include some form of unassigned credit.  Unassigned credit is defined in the BC Transfer Guide as “credit granted for a specific subject and year level”.  Direct credit is defined as “where credit is granted for a specific course”.  While unassigned credit can be used towards completion of elective requirements, it is less useful than direct credit, which can be used towards meeting prerequisite or specific degree completion requirements.  There are various reasons why unassigned credit is offered.  Unassigned credit allows institutions to offer credit for university level work, even if there is no direct equivalent offered at the receiving institution.  In addition, as all degree programs require some elective credit, unassigned credit allows students to receive credit for previous work that can be applied towards their degrees.  While unassigned credit is of value, it is generally recognized that the awarding of direct credit is most beneficial to students. 

There are several factors that may play a role in the prevalence of unassigned credit in BC Transfer System articulations.  Institutions that have been articulating courses for a long period of time may have initially created agreements at a time when they did not have a direct course equivalent, and have not conducted a review since the initial evaluation.  Lack of sufficient course information, or resources to review course information, may also be a factor in awarding unassigned credit. 

In order to better understand the current levels of unassigned credit in the BC Transfer System, BCCAT conducted a review of the current levels of articulations involving unassigned credit in the BC Transfer Guide for the following purposes:

  1. Identifying  system-wide trends with regards to unassigned credit
  2. Determining  challenges that may be a result of such trends
  3. Making recommendations to address identified challenges

The findings showed that nearly half of all articulations (47.8%) in the BC Transfer Guide include one or more courses of unassigned credit.  Some institutions had a rate of unassigned credit significantly higher than 50%.  Institutions that had recently reviewed their articulation agreements showed a much lower rate of unassigned credit. The rates of UC credit should not be considered intentional, but rather the product of the creation and maintenance of articulation arrangements that institutions have been negotiating for the past 20 years.  The findings indicate that institutions readily and often award UC credit in the absence of direct equivalencies.  BCCAT makes a number of recommendations aimed to raise awareness about the scope and impact of UC, with a goal towards improving the transfer student experience as learners progress through the BC Transfer System.

To access the full report, please visit Unassigned Credit in the BC Transfer System.