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Reassessing Existing Agreements

If an existing transfer agreement is reassessed, there are five possible outcomes, each with different implications:

  • the transfer credit value might be increased;

  • the transfer credit value might be decreased;

  • conditions might be added to the transfer agreement (e.g. establishing a minimum grade in the course at the sending institution that the student must achieve to receive transfer credit at the receiving institution);

  • the transfer agreement might be cancelled; or,

  • the transfer agreement might remain the same

Receiving institutions need to remember that changes to existing transfer agreements may affect sending institutions. If a receiving institution is contemplating a major curriculum change that may affect transfer agreements, the receiving institution should give as much advance notice as possible of the change to sending institutions that could be affected. There should also be consultation between sending and receiving institutions on planned changes, which could take place through the articulation committee(s) of the relevant discipline(s). At least a year's notice of planned changes is recommended for a smooth transition.

An increase in the value of an existing transfer credit agreement can become effective immediately or at the start of the next academic year. There is no need to give any special notice of the change to the sending institution, or to ask the sending institution to notify students who might already be taking the course or program.

When an existing transfer credit agreement is made more restrictive, or if the credit value awarded to a course is decreased, the existing agreementmust remain in effect until the sending institution and its students have been advised of the change. Generally, this means honouring the existing agreement until the end of the current academic semester or for up to one calendar year from the date of change.

Participating in Planned Curriculum Changes

It is usually the responsibility of the ICP at a receiving institution to be aware of potential or actual curriculum changes that might affect existing articulation agreements. Ideally, the ICP will have input to the curriculum revision process, to provide information on the transfer-related impacts of the changes. Even minor changes, such as re-numbering a course or changing a discipline's designation or coding, can have a significant impact on activities at sending institutions and on the record-keeping systems of the receiving institution.

For example, in 2006 the Psychology department at a large university proposed a re-numbering of PSYC 100 to PSYC 101. PSYC 100 + PSYC 102 is a popular first-year course sequence at many institutions, and these two courses at this university were part of many transfer credit agreements. The reason for the proposed change was to standardize the appearance of the first-year course sequence by numbering the two courses as PSYC 101 and PSYC 102. However, the ICP discovered that some 15 years earlier the same institution had offered PSYC 101, which had a higher credit value and was subsequently split into PSYC 100 and PSYC 102. Changing PSYC 100 to PSYC 101 would have required significant re-configurations of transfer agreements, complex date range-sensitive duplication rules within the institution's own transfer credit records system, and other complications. The benefits to the change did not justify the associated costs, so although the proposal had passed through two levels of internal approval by the time the ICP became involved, the proposal was dropped at the urging of the ICP.

This example demonstrates why receiving institutions must be prepared to design and maintain transfer credit record systems that are able to accommodate agreements covering many different time periods, and with the capability to accommodate different agreements involving the same course. For example, an agreement made in 1998 that is effective for a course taken at the sending institution between Sept 1999 and Aug 2002 must be honoured for any student applying for transfer credit who took the course during that time - especially if the transfer credit agreement for that course was different before or after that time.

Effective Date Ranges for Transferable Credit

Articulation requests often include backdated start dates. For example, a request is received in September 2013 to evaluate a course for transfer credit, but the requested start date for the agreement and the first offering of the course is given as September 1998. The course outline that is sent for evaluation should match the start date of the agreement. If the course has changed since the requested start date, separate requests for evaluation should be sent for each period that the course was offered in that form, accompanied by the course outline used during that period.

Backdating a transfer agreement for longer than a year can potentially affect the amount of credit awarded to students who have already had their transfer credit evaluated and are now attending the receiving institution. Sometimes it is worth analyzing student records to see if there are any students that should receive additional transfer credit because of a new agreement that is backdated.

Receiving institutions should not be expected to retroactively assess courses for which a transfer agreement has been established unless they choose to do so, perhaps on the request of an individual applicant or student. Already published transfer credit agreements should not be changed retroactively unless the change clearly benefits all students. Any re-evaluation of an already articulated course should be made in the context of the receiving institution's current curriculum, rather than of the curriculum in place at the time the course was taken. The purpose of evaluating an old course is to assist a current student, rather than to backfill a missing archive.