Spotlight News

  • Survey of Mobile Students

    Survey of Mobile Students

    Prepared by Dr. Elle Ting

    Published April 2023

    View/Download Infographics:  Demographics    Mobility    Motivations

    View/Download Sector-Level Summaries: 

    To Colleges/Institutes            From Colleges/Institutes  

    To Research Universities      From Research Universities 

    To Teaching Universities       From Teaching Universities


    In 2019, BCCAT collaborated with BC Stats to conduct the Survey of Mobile Students: this project examined transfer students (“movers”) and their decisions, motivations, and experiences within the BC transfer environment

    Expanding on the information collected through its predecessor, the 2012 Survey of Movers, this survey took place in the spring of 2019 and included 4,566 respondents from a cohort drawn using Student Transitions Project (STP) data. The survey was targeted toward students registered in an undergraduate program at a BC public post-secondary institution (PSI) in Fall 2016 and at least one different PSI by Fall 2018.

    The information provided by respondents helps explain their profiles and pathways—who they are and how and why they change institutions—in ways that can inform future research, policies, and practices supporting post-secondary movers in the BC Transfer System. Sector-level summaries overview responses of students who moved to and from a specific sector.   

    Related research: 2012 Survey of Movers: Students who Move Between BC Public Post-Secondary Institutions

  • Hitting the Reset Button: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Functions and Services of Registrars’ Offices in BC Post-Secondary Institutions

    Hitting the Reset Button: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Functions and Services of Registrars’ Offices in BC Post-Secondary Institutions

    Prepared for BCCAT by Ted James

    Published March 2023

    View/Download:  REPORT

    Post-secondary institutions in British Columbia and elsewhere were forced to react quickly and boldly when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in early 2020. The pandemic had unforeseen consequences, but it also created opportunities for new approaches to institutional systems and service delivery.

    This study evaluates the impact of the pandemic on services provided by Registrars’ Offices at the BC Transfer System’s 39 post-secondary member institutions. The research included a literature review, an online survey, and interviews.

    While the Office of the Registrar was only one of many areas dramatically affected at most institutions, the impact of the pandemic on the work of Registrars’ Offices was immediate and widespread. The areas experiencing the most impact were recruitment, class scheduling and convocation. Service delivery was largely impacted by moving operations to online delivery and by staff working at home. Policies and procedures were also temporarily amended at many institutions.

    The main pandemic-related challenges identified by participants were constant revising of plans and schedules, staff fatigue over time, and responding to student anxiety. Most participants reported that their offices successfully met most of the challenges that were experienced. 

    This study provides recommendations for institutional practice and further research.

    • Institutions should continue to explore ways to improve service delivery in both online and in-person formats.
    • Where changes in response to the pandemic resulted in improved service delivery, institutions should consider maintaining those changes.
    • Institutions should consider continuing flexible staff work arrangements where feasible, but allow such arrangements to be guided by a balance of individual choice and institutional need.
    • Research on the impact of the pandemic on students and instructional faculty would broaden the picture.
    • A comparison of differences in impacts across a wider range of jurisdictions may be another direction for further study.
    • Investigation of the long-term impacts of the pandemic may provide further insights.
  • Exploring Stranded Credit in the BC Transfer System

    Exploring Stranded Credit in the BC Transfer System

    Report: Exploring Stranded Credit in the BC Transfer System

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

    Published March 2023

    View/Download:  REPORT

    Stranded credit is credit that students have earned at a post-secondary institution, but cannot use or transfer because they have unpaid debts at the institution. Institutions will usually not issue official transcripts to students with debt, which results in the student being unable to formally document the credits they have acquired. This can cause problems for students in transferring credit and in continuing their education.

    This study investigates the extent of stranded credit in the BC Transfer System (BCTS). The study collected data from two sources: a review of BCTS member institutions’ websites around unpaid student debt, and a survey of registrars at the 39 BCTS member institutions on their institutional policies and practices around student debt and withholding transcripts.

    Almost all BCTS member institutions use “transcript holds” on student accounts with outstanding debt. The majority of institutions use this practice because withholding transcripts is one of the few strategies available to institutions attempting to collect unpaid debts.

    Stranded credit is apparently not a major issue in the BCTS. However, because of the significant and negative impact that stranded credit can have on individual students, it is still important for institutions to be aware of the potential for stranded credit. The report recommends:

    • Institutions should ensure that students understand the contractual nature of their relationship with the institution when they are accepted and/or when they enrol in courses or programs.
    • Institutions should consider alternatives to complete transcript holds.
    • Institutions should consider penalties that are appropriate for the amount or type of debt owed.
    • Institutions should be able to make case-by-case decisions around individual students’ debt and transcript holds.
    • Receiving institutions and sending institutions should consider collaborating to collectively address situations when transfer credit is stranded because of a transcript hold.
  • The Collection and Use of Student Data on Race, Ethnicity, and Ancestry

    The Collection and Use of Student Data on Race, Ethnicity, and Ancestry

    A framework to guide the collection and use of student data on race, ethnicity, and ancestry to support equity, diversity, and inclusion in BC public post-secondary institutions.

    Report created by Dr. Victoria E. Diaz, Dr. Stephanie McKeown, and Dr. Camilo Pena. Prepared by the Planning and Institutional Research Office University of British Columbia in collaboration with DPM Research, for the British Columbia Council on Admissions and Transfer (BCCAT), EducationPlannerBC (EPBC), and the British Columbia Registrars Association (BCRA).

    Infographic created by Elle Ting and Tu Bui. 

    Published January 2023


    This project reviews data collection practices regarding race, ethnicity and ancestry (REA) in post-secondary institutions (PSIs) in Canada, as well as in other relevant sectors (e.g., health, K-12 education, government agencies). The goal of the project was to identify promising practices and to develop recommendations to guide REA data collection initiatives both at the institutional and system level in BC post-secondary education.

    The information was collected using systematic literature and documentary reviews of existing practices on data collection regarding REA, interviews with representatives from PSIs and other organizations, and focus groups with students and community representatives.

    The framework for the collection and use of student demographic data, which was developed through the project work, offers a comprehensive approach to demographic data both at the institutional and system levels, considering the tools to be used, as well as appropriate processes to meet the objectives of the data collection. The report contains a discussion of key terms and definitions as well as examples of data collection questions used by other PSIs and organizations.


  • COVID-19 Survey of Post-Secondary Students

    COVID-19 Survey of Post-Secondary Students

    Impact of COVID-19 on Post-Secondary Students:
    A Systematic Review of Institutional Reports

    Prepared for BCCAT by the Community Health and Social Innovation (CHASI) Hub,
    University of the Fraser Valley

    Click here to access survey dashboard.

    The research involved a systematic review of institutional surveys and reports related to the impact of COVID-19 on post-secondary students. The analysis covers 58 publicly available COVID-19 student impact reports from 31 post-secondary institutions and organizations across Canada.  

    The results of the analysis are presented in the form of a dashboard. Tabs on the dashboard correspond to the parts of the analysis. “Reports” tab includes key topics, details on methodology of each survey, the timeline when the surveys were administered (“Show Timeline” button toggles the map view and the timeline view), and the search function. The actual reports could be accessed by clicking on a specific survey listed in the table. Insights from the key informant interviews on how survey results have been taken up by post-secondary institutions and organizations can also be found on the “Reports” tab.  

    “Literature Review” tab contains a cross-national literature review completed to understand the educational, social, emotional, and financial impact of COVID-19 on Canadian postsecondary students. The list of references can be found at the bottom by clicking “References” button.  

    “Thematic Analysis” tab shows key themes that emerged from the survey analysis, such as student health and wellness, academic achievement, student life, and faculty and university. Each theme and sub-theme include a brief discussion of the findings and provide quotes from survey responses.  

  • REPORT: Credit Accumulation in Pathway Programs

    REPORT: Credit Accumulation in Pathway Programs

    Credit Accumulation in Pathway Programs

    Prepared for BCCAT by Plaid Consulting

    Published May 2022

    View/Download:  Summary

    Pathway-transfer students are a seldom-studied subset of students in the BC Transfer System. This study assessed the number of credits completed by pathway-transfer and direct-entry students in Business, Engineering, Nursing, and Social Work, and explored the reasons why students complete the number of credits they do. In this study, pathway transfer students are defined as students transferring from one or more sending institutions to one of the four receiving institutions in the BC Transfer System with Year 2 standing or equivalent.

    The study employed a survey of current pathway-transfer students, and a quantitative analysis of credit data for pathway transfer graduates and direct-entry graduates who obtained a baccalaureate degree in the four disciplines. The summing up transfer credits from 21 BC public post-secondary institutions and credits completed at the receiving institutions allowed for comparison of the total number of credits obtained on the way to graduation between direct-entry and pathway-transfer students. 

    Pathways appeared to take slightly more credits to complete overall, but were relatively efficient for pathway transfer students. However, more than two-thirds of pathway transfer students surveyed were satisfied or very satisfied with the transfer process. Helping students understand why some of their previous academic credit is not recognized at their new institution may improve student satisfaction, and confidence, in pathway programs.

    (NOTE: The full project report is available here.)


    Related research:

    Credit Accumulation: Students' Motivations (2021)

    Credits to Graduation (2020)

    Credits to Graduation (2010)

  • REPORT: Supporting Students with Lived Experience in Care

    REPORT: Supporting Students with Lived Experience in Care

    Supporting BC Post-Secondary Students with Lived Experience in Care 

    Prepared by Plaid Consulting for BCCAT 

    Published March 2022 

    Download/View:  REPORT

    Students with lived experience in government care can face significant challenges in their lives and their educational journeys. In 2017, the BC government created the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program (PTWP) to encourage students with lived experience in care to continue their education at the post-secondary level.  In the four years since the PTWP was launched, more supports have been made available to BC students with lived experience in care. The focus of this study is to investigate the effects of financial, academic, and mental health supports intended to improve the post-secondary experience of students with lived experience in BC’s care system.  

    A total of 278 students and 12 professional staff from the University of British Columbia (UBC), the University of Victoria (UVic), Thompson Rivers University (TRU), and Langara College participated in the study. Students completed an anonymous survey, and some student survey respondents and the professional staff participated in interviews.  

    Students reported difficulties with leaving the care system and transitioning into PSE. Those who received the PTWP were satisfied with that program; however, a third of the students surveyed did not meet the PTWP eligibility criteria. Students reported difficulty getting additional funding to cover other living and educational costs. Some were unhappy with long waitlists for on-campus mental health services at their institution, and some felt that counsellors did not understand their backgrounds well enough to effectively assist them. UBC and UVic students were happy with the dedicated “navigator” staff at these institutions who support students with lived experience in care. 

    The report recommends: 

    • Creating wrap-around support models at all BC post-secondary institutions for students with lived experience in care. 
    • Reviewing and aligning post-secondary mental health supports for students with lived experience in care. 
    • Reviewing and aligning post-secondary financial supports for students with lived experience in care. 
  • REPORT: Pathways Partnerships with Indigenous Post-Secondary Institutions

    REPORT: Pathways Partnerships with Indigenous Post-Secondary Institutions


    Prepared for BCCAT by:
    Jennifer Anaquod, Anaquod Educational Consulting
    Jason La Rochelle, Heather Simpson, Dawn Ursuliak, Justice Institute of BC

    Download/View:   REPORT    INFOGRAPHIC    VIDEO

    The goal of this study was to explore current practices that help support and enhance Indigenous students’ experiences in post-secondary education. Through the use of Indigenous ways of knowing and storytelling, those supporting students at IAHLA and public post-secondary institutions gathered to weave together their stories of success, struggle, and perseverance in their journey to advance Indigenous education and improve the experiences of Indigenous students in post-secondary education.

    These stories showed a wealth of positive policies and practices that support both pathway partnerships and Indigenous students, as well as areas of needed improvement. As with all Indigenous education, the research highlighted the importance of relationships, transparency, commitment, and compassion to create stronger transfer credit pathways.

    The report includes a literature review of the students’ needs, an overview of the themes in the interviews with a variety of stakeholders and Elders who support Indigenous students accessing transfer credit pathways, as well as recommendations and suggestions of future studies.

    Infographic designed for BCCAT by Drawing It Out. (Click on image to download/view.)

    Related research: Indigenous Educational Pathways: Access, Mobility, and Persistence in the BC Post-Secondary System (2018).

  • REPORT: Reverse Transfer

    REPORT: Reverse Transfer

    Reverse Transfer

    The Feasibility of Reverse Transfer in the BC Transfer System

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

    February 2022

    Download/View:  REPORT

    Reverse transfer has been part of the United States post-secondary landscape for more than a decade, in the form of statewide, system-wide, regional, and institutional transfer agreements. Reverse transfer agreements, as structured in the US, allow a college student in an associate degree program who transfers to a university before completing the associate degree to transfer credit “back” to the college, and receive the college’s associate degree while staying enrolled at the university.

    Reverse transfer can benefit students by expanding their educational and career options, and, motivating them to continue their studies. It can also benefit post-secondary institutions by improving credential completion rates.

    The British Columbia post-secondary system has included two associate degree programs, the Associate of Arts (AA) and Associate of Science (AS), since the mid 1990s. This report explores the potential for reverse transfer in the BC Transfer System. The report focuses primarily on the potential for reverse transfer in BC involving associate degrees. However, reverse transfer agreements can also facilitate students’ completion of credentials such as diplomas and certificates.

    The report reviews published research on reverse transfer agreements, and describes the characteristics of reverse transfer agreements in the US. The report reviews the features of BC’s associate degree programs, and then presents data that may indicate student interest in, and demand for, reverse transfer in BC. It provides system-wide and institutional recommendations around the potential for reverse transfer in BC.

  • REPORT: COVID-19 and Transfer

    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


    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