Accreditation and Quality Assurance
As the agency that coordinates the BC Transfer System, the BC Council on Admissions and Transfer (BCCAT) often gets inquiries from students and institutions in other provinces and other countries asking whether a BC institution is "recognized" or "accredited." The purpose of the inquiry is to establish whether credits from this BC institution can transfer to BC universities, and by extension, whether they should therefore be acceptable to universities or colleges outside the province.
Quality Assurance in the BC Transfer System
Each province or territory in Canada has developed its own quality assurance mechanisms to ensure the legitimacy of institutions, public and private. In BC, acts of the provincial legislature establish and govern public institutions and the Degree Quality Assesment Board (DQAB) approves individual degree programs for both public and private institutions. The BC Council on Admissions and Transfer relies on these quality assurance mechanisms as a basis on which to grant membership to the BC Transfer System but is not, itself, charged with responsibility for quality assessment or recognition of institutions or programs.
Use of the Term "Accredited"
Canada does not have a national or regional accreditation system for post-secondary institutions and therefore educational jurisdictions, except in some limited circumstances, do not normally employ the term "accredited" to denote provincially authorized or recognized institutions. In Canada, since post-secondary education falls under provincial, rather than national, jurisdiction, each province uses its own quality assurance processes to ensure the legitimacy of institutions. For a complete explanation, readers are referred to Quality Assurance Practices for Postsecondary Institutions in Canada, an excellent document maintained by the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC). This fact sheet provides an "overview of Canada's postsecondary institutions and the types of quality assurance mechanisms that are in place." Additional resources and links are provided, including detailed information on British Columbia Quality Assurance Practices.
There are only two instances in BC where the use of the word "accredited" is appropriate:
Many programs in British Columbia institutions have been accredited by professional accrediting or licensing associations.
In BC, the formal application of the term "accredited" to institutions as a whole is limited to those private institutions that have successfully undergone the voluntary accreditation process of the Private Career Training Institutions Agency (PCTIA). The PCTIA accreditation process is required to establish eligibility to participate in provincial and federal student financial assistance programs. It does not imply or guarantee that courses or programs taken at PCTIA accredited institutions will be recognized for transfer credit at any of the public post-secondary institutions. Note: PCTIA was dissolved in 2014. For more information, please contact the Ministry of Advanced Education.