Spotlight News

  • REPORT: Block Transfer & Degree Partnerships

    REPORT: Block Transfer & Degree Partnerships


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

    View/Download:  REPORT

    The main purposes of this research are to describe the volume, features and trends of block transfer agreements (BTA) and degree partnership (DP) pathways in the BC Transfer System (BCTS); to determine existing business practices that determine collection of data on degree pathways; and to identify successful practices that may assist institutions in collecting data on tracking BTA/DP usage by students.

    The analysis utilized the Central Data Warehouse (CDW) transfer credits data covering the period 2009-10 to 2018-19. The sending and receiving institutions identified in the CDW data were compared to similar information in 1,424 block transfer or degree partnership agreements drawn from the BC Transfer Guide (BCTG).

    Over the ten-year period, CDW institutions assessed transfer credits at block transfer for 3,481 students from BCTS member institutions. These students transferred 125,843 credits as block, or 7.4% of the total transferred through all credit types. Only approximately 27% of transfers occurred with a block transfer or degree partnership agreement between the sending and receiving institution posted on the BCTG.

    There was a fair amount of variation in what information on incoming students was collected and recorded. 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”. Most institutions treated degree partnership transfer the same as block transfer. A majority of survey respondents (63%) reported that they accommodated block transfer without a formal agreement being in place. Some institutions did not record block credit, despite the apparent presence of block transfer agreements.

    The study concludes with a discussion of possible strategies for improving institutional and system-level data. Institutional data and information support are discussed, as well as the possibility of creating a comparative base for system reporting.

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

  • 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: Admissions Policies and Practices for Underrepresented Students

    REPORT: Admissions Policies and Practices for Underrepresented Students


    Prepared for BCCAT by P. Merner & P. Beatty-Guenter

    Published September 2018

    Download/View:    REPORT    SUMMARY (4-pages)

    The key purpose of the research project was to assess the policies and practices at the BC Transfer System institutions for admitting underrepresented (equity) groups of students, as well as to summarize the data sources available on the underrepresented groups. Beyond the review of Canadian and international literature, this analysis involved scanning websites and other digital documentation for the 38 institutions of the BC Transfer System, as well as provincial government webpages and other online material. A survey of the institutional research offices at public BC post-secondary institutions provided information on institutional data collection practices and the identification of underrepresented groups. The final stage of information gathering involved interviews of admissions and other professionals to garner first-hand information about equity initiatives and access practices in an operational context.

    The literature review identified key groups and factors (often correlated) that influence access to post-secondary education: low socio-economic status, parental education, low secondary school success, family, Indigenous identity, rural location, gender, ability limitation, and cultural distinctiveness. While some barriers may be amenable to change, others are not and must be addressed in other ways.

    Typically, post-secondary institutions have responded to access and equity issues in three main ways: through creating or improving programs, through services, and through policy and practices. In many cases institutional responses were multi-faceted, and it was also often difficult to delineate what underrepresented groups the practices were aimed at.

    The strongest policy statements were found with respect to the more visible and defined groups (e.g., Indigenous people and those with ability limitations). In other respects, such as with first-generation learners or those from rural origins, policy was almost entirely absent. This served to underline the differences in visibility among the underrepresented groups. As with policy, some underrepresented groups are well supported by admissions practices designed specifically to support their needs, while other groups less so, or not at all. This is not to say that individuals are not supported during admissions processes, but that practices are not targeted specifically towards them, by dint of group membership.

    The report contains a review of availability of data sources that support current and future research on underrepresented groups. The sources of data on underrepresented groups include many Statistics Canada resources, such as the Census, data sets and surveys available through CANSIM (PSIS, NGS and the LFS), and discontinued but available YITS, PEPS and SLS/F; BC provincial/institutional data sets include the CDW and STP, and the BC Outcomes Surveys; and Institutional / Consortia data sets such as CUSC, NSSE, and UCAS.