International assessment of academic documents by post-secondary institutions and other bodies represents a complex field guided by quality assurance frameworks, formal conventions and best practice. It is a formal field of practice and requires system-level supports and expertise that are not easily replicated within individual institutions. This research reviewed and showcased exemplars across Canada of use innovative and promising practices in assessing international transfer credit.
Often course equivalency is established by looking for substantial equivalence. This requires highly detailed assessments of inputs, such as credits, weighting, and text used, with the intent of establishing maximum comparability in program content. The Lisbon Recognition Convention and best practice guides encourage the adoption of quality assurance and access practices informed by concepts such as substantial difference and a focus on learning outcomes. Assessing substantial difference in courses identifies areas sufficiently significant to impede a student’s subsequent success in further study, and encourages the granting of credit recognition when such significant gaps are not found.
A survey of institutions and qualitative interviews, with a particular focus on members of the BC Transfer System showed that most of the review processes of international documents rely on hand review of individual credentials and/or supporting information submitted by individual students and/or sent directly from other institutions in paper or PDF formats. Documents reviewed to support the transfer and exchange equivalency assessment processes tend to include academic transcripts, other academic credentials, detailed course information, and translations (where needed). The Registrar’s Office remains pivotal in policy and partnership development, and the Admissions Office tends to support individual document evaluations, while faculty members within program areas conduct most of the course equivalency assessments.
The report contains a sample list of service providers of international transfer credit assessment practices across the globe, a list of institutional resources with transfer policy examples and tools, a list of associations that support credential evaluation service providers, as well as a list of challenges in assessing international transfer credit and recommended responses to those.