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Case-by-Case Articulation

A receiving institution may receive a request for transfer credit involving a course that has no articulation agreements listed in the BC Transfer Guide. This could be because:

  • the sending institution is located in BC but is not a member of the BC Transfer System;

  • the sending institution  is located in another part of Canada, or elsewhere in the world;  

  • the course was offered as a non-credit course at the sending institution; and/or,

  • the course is not numbered by the sending institution as a university-level course (numbered as 100 or above).

In such situations, a case-by-case assessment will be conducted to determine whether credit should be awarded. This process is sometimes referred to as a "student-specific transfer credit assessment" or "non-articulated transfer credit assessment". Students submitting such requests may be required to provide a course outline or other supporting documentation, or may only be asked to do so if additional information is needed to evaluate the request.

Part of assessing a case-by-case requests may include the TCC or other receiving institution staff member determining whether the request should be directed to a faculty member for assessment, or whether the request should be not be processed for non-academic reasons (e.g., lack of adequate supporting documentation). In the latter case, receiving institutions should establish criteria to identify when a request for assessment should be declined.

For example, if the University of Victoria (UVIC) receives a request that is a case-by-case articulation for a course  from a university or college in North America, it uses the calendar description of the course from the institution where the course was taken. UVIC requests a course outline from the student only if there is doubt about the nature of the course. Other receiving institutions routinely require the student to provide an official course outline. While this document may contain important information for assessing a case-by-case request, obtaining it can be a challenge for the student. A calendar description alone may provide sufficient information to evaluate a request, especially if no guarantee is given or implied that the same evaluation outcome will occur in similar cases. However, for true articulation of a course, implying a contract between the sending and the receiving institution, the practice of requiring a course outline is prudent.

A request for transfer credit may be accompanied by a course outline that does not contain sufficient information to assess whether an award of transfer credit is justified. This may be particularly true for course outlines from post-secondary institutions outside Canada and the United States, which may use different course outline formats. The receiving institution may request further information on the course from the student or from the institution (e.g., a course syllabus distributed in class, or the official course information used in the institution's internal approval process). However, the receiving institution may also need to consider whether such information will be easily obtainable, and how the request for transfer credit will proceed if the desired information cannot be provided.

If a case-by-case assessment results in transfer credit being awarded, most institutions record the transfer credit assessment internally, and use it as a precedent if another student or applicant requests transfer credit for the same course. However, such assessments are usually not published publicly and are not considered formal agreements. The receiving institution usually does not advise the sending institution of the decision to award credit, and there is generally no expectation that the sending institution will advise the receiving institution of curriculum changes, course numbering changes, or other changes affecting the transferred course.

Institutional policy or the judgment of staff should determine whether the outcome of a case-by-case assessment is applicable to later requests involving the same course. Generally, an assessment should have been made within the previous five years for the outcome to be used as a precedent, but this will vary by discipline. Institutions should also be mindful that awarding transfer credit for one course from a particular institution does not necessarily establish a precedent for requests involving other courses from the same institution. Alternatively, institutions can formalize the results of a case-by-case assessment using the TCES, which creates a permanent record of the evaluation and can also contribute to creating consistencies across the BC Transfer System by publicizing the receiving institution's assessment of the course's transfer value.

Although institutions receive case-by-case articulation requests and more standard articulation requests from quite different sources and in completely different forms, a faculty member evaluating an assessment request might see little difference between the two types of requests. Sometimes case-by-case assessment requests receive a higher task priority because the request is initiated by a student who has enrolled or is planning to enroll at the institution. In such situations, the staff member facilitating the evaluation should communicate the priority of the request to the evaluator.

Maintaining Internal Transfer Tables

Each time an evaluation of a transfer request results in transfer credit being awarded, that award must be recorded. Most institutions maintain an internal set of records for their own reference, listing transfer credit decisions which are not eligible to be included in the BC Transfer Guide: for example, transfer credit decisions that involve courses offered by out-of-province institutions, and by BC institutions that are not members of the BC Transfer System.

Internal transfer records must be consulted for every case-by-case articulation to ensure consistency in evaluations. For courses within BC, the BC Transfer Guide should also be consulted. If there is a discrepancy between the institution's records and the BC Transfer Guide, the information in the BC Transfer Guide should prevail. Any errors in either database should, of course, be corrected.

Generally, internal transfer records are not available to prospective or enrolled students, with access limited to authorized staff. However, some institutions choose to publish their internal transfer decisions in the form of a simple, searchable, public database. For institutions that decide to make their internal transfer database publicly available, the public database should also refer or link to the BC Transfer Guide.

Institutions that choose to make their internal transfer databases publicly accessible should be cautiousaboutpublishing transfer credit assessments that have not been formally articulated through the TCES. If there are restrictions on the use of credit listed in an internal transfer database, the institution must clearly state the conditions of use, such as situations when the listed credit might not be applicable. Generally, once an internal credit record is publicly published, the institution must honour the stated equivalencies.

Recommendations for Case-by-Case Articulation

  • Maintain a single database including both formal articulation agreements and case-by-case evaluations

  • Honour the agreements listed in the BC Transfer Guide if a discrepancy arises between the BC Transfer Guide and the institution's own records of transfer credit awards

  • Establish conditions under which previous decisions on transfer credit for a course are used as precedents, if there is no formal articulation agreement for a course

  • Use similar evaluation processes for formal articulation and for case-by-case assessment

  • Include a link to the BC Transfer Guide if there is public on-line access to the internal transfer credit database