REPORT: COVID-19 and Transfer

COVID-19 and Transfer

A BCCAT Special Report looking at the effects of COVID-19 on transfer and articulation within the BC Transfer System.

by Dr. Fiona A. E. McQuarrie, Special Projects Officer, BCCAT

December 2021

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In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the physical closure of British Columbia’s post-secondary institutions. Courses and programs were moved entirely online, and students, faculty members, administrators and staff all worked remotely. While some programs returned to limited face-to-face instruction in summer 2020, the majority of BC post-secondary programs and operations remained at least partially online until fall 2021. This report, commissioned by BCCAT’s Transfer and Admissions Committee (TAC), assesses the impact of these closures and changes on transfer activity and student mobility within the BC Transfer System (BCTS).

Full data on BC student mobility from March 2020 to September 2021 are not yet available. Data from the Transfer Credit System, the application and workflow that enables BCTS member institutions to articulate agreements and publish them in the BC Transfer Guide, did not show any unusual increases or decreases in articulation activity during the closures.

There are five areas in which COVID-related changes may have affected transfer and articulation in BC:

• changes in course delivery methods;

• changes in course components;

• grading;

• articulation committee meetings; and,

• student equity.

Changes in course delivery methods or in course components, such as methods of evaluating student performance, generally did not result in permanent changes to transfer agreements. Some BCTS member institutions implemented temporary changes to grading systems, such as permitting students to receive a P rather than a letter grade; however, these did not seem to cause ongoing difficulties for transferring students. Articulation committees held their annual meetings online in 2020 and 2021; the online format had benefits and drawbacks, but the ease and low cost of attending virtually may encourage committees to consider an online option for future face-to-face meetings. Student equity issues, such as lack of reliable internet access or adequate computer equipment, may not affect student mobility, but may negatively affect students’ academic performance and thus cause challenges for them in future transfers.

Related reading: Post-Secondary Education COVID Updates