Spotlight News

  • REPORT: Micro-Credentials

    REPORT: Micro-Credentials

    MICRO-CREDENTIALS: Trends in Credit Transfer and Credentialing

    Prepared for BCCAT by Joanne Duklas
    Published November 2020


    This report provides insights into current micro-credentialing practices, motivations, and perspectives at Canadian higher education institutions and beyond. The environmental scan, the pan-Canadian survey as well as expert interviews highlighted the need of establishing shared definitions that fit the purpose intended.

    The survey identified a few institutions, including some in British Columbia, that recognize micro-credentials for admission and credit transfer. “Certificates” was the most common term that was used by both the BC and ON respondents when referring to micro-credentials awarded to students.

    Institutional respondents indicated that the top motivator for offering a micro-credential was to support access to future studies. This suggests an opportunity for institutions to align the purpose of micro-credentials for admission, credit transfer, and stackability.

    The report highlights several promising exemplars both from within Canada and internationally, for example, Thompson Rivers University micro-courses, Simon Fraser University’s FASS Forward microcredit courses, Algonquin College’s comprehensive Micro-credentials Framework, and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority’s system.

    Demonstrating quality and future transferability represent fundamental design principles for micro-credentials to be used for admissions and credit transfer. In general, the purpose of a proposed micro-credential should drive its design. An implementation checklist for micro-credential design is provided in the report.

    For a quick overview of key findings, check out the infographic below:

  • REPORT: BC Transfer Students Profile and Performance

    REPORT: BC Transfer Students Profile and Performance

    BC TRANSFER STUDENTS: Profile and Performance Report (2013/14-2017/18)

    Prepared for BCCAT by Plaid Consulting
    Published June 2020

    View/Download:     REPORT    INFOGRAPHIC (4 pages)   VIDEO (8 minutes)

    This report examines transfer student pathways and performance from BC Transfer System institutions into BC's public research-intensive universities: Royal Roads University, Simon Fraser University, Thompson Rivers University, University of British Columbia, University of Northern British Columbia, and University of Victoria. On average, transfer students represent about one third of all student population at these universities in a given academic year; and thus are important to these institutions.

    The data from the 2013/14 academic year through to the 2017/18 academic year support the findings of the previous similar reports, which were published for nearly 30 years, with the latest editions completed in 2010 and 2015. These studies compare transfer students’ performance with the performance of students who enter the universities directly from high school (“direct entry students”).

    While the educational journeys of transfer students differ from those of direct entry students in a number of ways, most performance trends seen for direct entry students are echoed in the data from the transfer student population. Transfer students differ demographically: they are older, more often take slightly smaller course load in a given semester, and more often enrol in arts baccalaureate degree programs than their direct entry counterparts. However, the current analysis highlights the continued overall success of transfer students following their transfer to research universities. Their post-secondary success is demonstrated by their course and semester GPA, and degree completion.

  • REPORT: International Transfer Credit Practices

    REPORT: International Transfer Credit Practices


    Prepared for BCCAT by Joanne Duklas, Duklas Cornerstone Consulting
    Published January 2019

    Download/View:    REPORT    SUMMARY

    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.

  • REPORT: Data Governance Policy Models

    REPORT: Data Governance Policy Models


    Prepared for BCCAT by Plaid Consulting

    Published March 2021

    Download/View:    REPORT    INFOGRAPHIC (4-pages)

    This report focuses on data governance at post-secondary institutions and related organizations. Data governance is defined as the formal execution and enforcement of authority over the management of data and data-related assets (Seiner, 2014).

    An overview of data governance at higher education institutions provides detail on elements of data governance, e.g., defined roles and responsibilities of those involved in data governance at a post-secondary institution. The analysis of the goals and motivations of data governance programs revealed that one of the primary motivators for pursuing data governance was from a risk management perspective. Institutions aimed to ensure that institutional reporting is based on consistent, reliable, and trustworthy data. Organizations and institutions with data governance programs were more likely to have clearly defined data governance goals and motivations, e.g., British Columbia First Nations’ Data Governance Initiative aims to empower First Nations citizens through collective data ownership within Indigenous nations.

    The report discusses options for the implementation of data governance frameworks at four levels – from strategic to operational level. For some institutions, a data governance framework can incorporate all the elements of data governance. For others, implementation can start with a pilot project and use existing expertise and committee structures can help to build momentum towards larger data governance initiatives. Data governance is described as an iterative process, and it was common to see initiatives move through more than one structure before implementation.

    The scan of maturity models in the context of Canadian higher education uncovered that data governance is most often practiced informally. Those with formal data governance programs have either implemented their programs recently or are still in the development process. One of the most common themes identified was the need for a shift toward a data-driven culture within the institution or organization. Unlike organizations that work with student data, organizations that use health data are more likely to have developed formal data governance programs.

    An overview of data access and privacy legislation in the context of higher education identifies relevant legislation from British Columbia, such as Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (BC FIPPA), Private Information Protection Act (PIPA), Personal Health Information Access and Protection of Privacy Act (BC E-Health), and Higher Education Acts. Applicability of Canadian national legislation, legislation at nine other Canadian provinces or territories, several American states, and Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was also discussed.

    The report concludes with key considerations, insights, and recommendations for higher education organizations and institutions in relation to the data governance programs.

  • REPORT: Credits to Graduation

    REPORT: Credits to Graduation


    By Anna Tikina, Research Officer, BCCAT
    Published April 2020

    Download/View:  REPORT   SUMMARY (4 pages)

    The number of credits completed to earn a baccalaureate degree continues to be an important criterion for measuring the effectiveness and efficiency of transfer between post-secondary institutions.

    The current study compared the total number of credits completed for a baccalaureate degree by 2015/16 direct entry and transfer graduates at Simon Fraser University, Thompson Rivers University, the University of British Columbia, the University of the Fraser Valley, the University of Northern British Columbia, and the University of Victoria.

    Transfer students’ total number of credits was obtained as a sum of the number of credits in the university data and the number of credits the students had obtained at selected “high volume” BC public sending institutions. The sending institutions’ data were available through the province-wide Student Transitions Project (STP).

    Study Cohort Description

    Overall, transfer students constituted 12% of the students in the study cohort. About 65% of transfer students with a known high school graduation date registered in post-secondary programs at a CDW institution within one year of high school graduation. About 40% of transfer students received one or several credentials from an institution contributing to the BC Central Data Warehouse (CDW) in addition to a baccalaureate from their receiving university.

    Roughly 60% of transfer students graduated from Arts programs. The proportion of direct entry students was smaller: 41% of direct entry students graduated with a BA degree. By comparison, only 24% of the transfer student cohort graduated from Sciences programs, while 33% of direct entry students graduated in Sciences.


    • Transfer in BC does not appear to add significant barriers on the pathway to a bachelor’s degree: transfer students from selected sending institutions performed well. The program and overall average difference of attempted and earned credits between transfer and direct entry students was marginal.

    • Transfer students graduated with a somewhat higher number of credits than the direct entry students (on average, nine more credits), the overall small difference reflects a high alignment of articulated courses. The difference in number of completed credits between direct entry and transfer students was greater for students in Engineering, Business and Sciences programs, and marginal for Arts programs.

    • The finding that both transfer and direct entry students completed somewhat more credits than required for their baccalaureate possibly reflects the exploratory nature of undergraduate studies rather than systemic inefficiencies.

    • The findings that direct entry students earn additional credits at selected sending institutions, and that transfer students earn credentials besides bachelor’s degrees confirm that students’ pathways through post-secondary education are rarely linear.

    Related publications: 2010 Credits to Graduation Report and Summary

  • BCCAT Commemorative Video

    BCCAT Commemorative Video

    Reflections on BC’s long history of transfer credit pathway development to the present day can help to inform us as we map a continuing path through the years ahead. In 2020, we look forward to continuing our collaboration with post-secondary partners as we build on the successes and strengths of this remarkable transfer community! See video