REPORT: Block Transfer & Degree Partnerships


Prepared for BCCAT by P. Merner & M. Bennett
Published September 2020

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The main purposes of this research were to describe the volume, features and trends characterizing block transfer and degree partnership pathways in the BC Transfer System, to determine existing business practices that may impact data on degree pathways in British Columbia and Alberta, and to identify successful practices in recording and tracking block transfer and degree partnership agreements.

Recorded Data and Agreements in the BC Transfer Guide

The study utilized transfer credits data covering the period 2009-10 to 2018-19 from the Central Data Warehouse (CDW), maintained by BC Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training. Over the ten-year period, 3,481 students transferred to CDW institutions from BCTS member institutions via block transfer. This represents 3.7% of all student transfers. These students transferred 125,843 credits as block, or 7.4% of the total transferred through all credit types.

The sending and receiving institutions identified in the CDW data were also compared to institutional information in 1,424 block transfer or degree partnership agreements drawn from the BC Transfer Guide. Only approximately 27% of block transfers occurred with a block transfer or degree partnership agreement between the sending and receiving institution posted on the BC Transfer Guide.

The vast majority of block transfer students and credits originated from graduates Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, the University of Northern British Columbia, and the University of Victoria. These universities do not submit data to the CDW, but are recorded as sending institutions in the data of institutions that do contribute to the CDW. However, the significant transfer credit volume received by the four non-CDW universities is not captured in these data, and thus a full system-level view on transfer credit volume is not available.

Institutional Practices of Recording BTA/ DP

A survey of the BC Transfer System institutions and several Alberta institutions revealed the following:

  • Most institutions recorded block credit awarded, although many assessed block credit transfers on a course-by-course basis “sometimes” and in a few cases “always or most of the time”.
  • About two-thirds of survey respondents reported that they accommodated block transfer without a formal agreement being in place, e.g., through assessment of students’ credentials. Most institutions treated degree partnership transfer the same as block transfer, and most differences found were minor.
  • Many institutions recorded credits as more than one type of transfer credit (e.g., as a combination of assigned, unassigned and block transfer credit) with respect to a given student transfer, and that some institutions did not record block credit, despite the apparent presence of block transfer agreements.

A possible aide to making block transfer and degree partnerships more visible in institutional data would be to employ separate coding for these types of student pathways. This flag would also be helpful for analyzing and reporting the use of block transfer and degree partnership agreements.

There does not appear to be a consensus about the best way to portray block transfer in the BC CDW data, and institutions have found different ways to best support student transfer in their institutional practices. Supporting business practices and process quality to include recording block transfer and degree partnership agreements data would greatly enhance the system-level view of transfer credit flows.

Related publications: 2019 Implementing Block Transfer Agreements report, 2014 Block Transfer in the BC Transfer System report