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Applicability of Transfer Credit

Transfer credit is awarded by receiving institutions to students entering diverse programs, and each program has its own completion requirements. Programs may limit the amount or type of transfer credit that can be used for program completion. Additionally, students often make academic choices such as changing programs or majors, that might have negative transfer credit consequences.  

A degree audit system can identify such potential problems, and can be run as part of the institution's student information system. It should be noted, however, that degree audit systems require meticulous setup, rigorous testing, and ongoing maintenance to fulfill their intended purpose. It may also be difficult to structure such systems to accurately interpret any rule that is ambiguous, subjective, or ill-defined. The alternative to using a degree audit system is to require a transcript review whenever a student formally changes their academic plans. The review should involve credit earned at the institution as well as transfer credit.

An audit of a student's transfer credit record by a well-trained advisor, with the review ideally taking place early in the student's program, is also highly recommended. New students could be required to meet with an advisor for clarification of any transfer credit awarded and how the transfer credit applies towards the student's academic goals. Without this kind of review, problems with the applicability of errors in transfer credit may potentially only be discovered when students apply to graduate, at which point their entire record is usually reviewed to ensure that all graduation requirements have been met. Discovering transfer credit problems at this late stage may seriously affect the student's ability to graduate.

Students with transferrable credits often apply for admission at more than one receiving institution. In order to avoid using institutional resources for on applicants who eventually do not enroll, an institution may postpone conducting a transfer credit evaluation until an applicant has formally committed to enrolling and/or paid a tuition deposit or fee. However, it may not be in the applicant's best interest to commit to attending an institution without knowing what transfer credit they will receive.

Consistency is important in making transfer decisions and administering transfer credit policies. Students applying for admission should be able to determine what amount or type of transfer credit they will receive if they enroll at the receiving institution. Students who have been admitted should have a clear idea of the transfer credit they have received, and thus what requirements they must then fulfill to complete their desired program. If a receiving institution has agreed to participate in an articulation agreement, that agreement must be consistently honoured. If there are conditions restricting the use or applicability of transfer credit, the receiving institution must clearly state under what circumstances the transferable courses cannot be used for credit (e.g. in specified faculties or programs).