BC Transfer System History

BC’s remarkable post-secondary transfer system has navigated a dynamic, ever-changing post-secondary landscape system partners. BCCAT addresses key changes and issues to enable and advance transfer and mobility for BC’s post-secondary learners.

BC Transfer System through the Decades

1958-2022 Transfer in BC

A brief history of BC's post-secondary transfer system
  • BCcupms (the Mathematics & Statistics Articulation Committee, which first started meeting in 1967) holds its 100th meeting, in May 2022.

  • Expansion of the BC Transfer Guide continues as more institutions onboard the process of having their external transfer agreements added to the database. By June 2022, 70,000 external transfer equivalencies had been added to the BC Transfer Guide database.
    BCCAT launches a bigger, better BCTransferGuide.BCTransferGuide.ca, with improved accessibility, adaptivity, and responsiveness to improve user experience. The site includes pan-Canadian and international transfer agreements, and searchable Adult Basic Education and English as an Additional Language (EAL) transfer guides.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic strikes, and BC post-secondary institutions face a variety of related challenges, regarding online delivery, credit transfer agreement continuity, alternative grading, and more. BCCAT collaborates with BCcampus and institutions to share resources and identify best practices. BCCAT also provides relevant system news updates on its website.

  • Due to the pandemic, BCCAT hosts the first-ever online Joint Annual Meeting (JAM). The event is very well-attended with over 370 registrants, and the theme focuses on “Transfer & Articulation in a Time of Pandemic”.

  • BCTransferGuide.ca expands as additional institutions onboard the import of their external transfer equivalencies to the BC Transfer Guide database. As a result, students near and far are able to explore transfer agreements between BC institutions and institutions around the world.


BCCAT celebrates 30 years since as the coordinating and facilitating agency overseeing the BC Transfer System. BCCAT completes pilot project with UBC focused on importing their internal tables into the Transfer Credit System (TCS). This project opens the way for all BC Transfer System member institutions to import their historical records of decisions, allowing members to leverage the articulation activities of each other. BCCAT begins a major review of the Transfer Innovations project funding program, the first since its launch in 1999. BCTransferGuide.ca undergoes an external review, informing plans for future updates and enhancements.


The Transfer Credit Evaluation System is upgraded; the new Transfer Credit System (TCS) leverages newer and smarter technologies, improving the integrity of the transfer database and increasing the efficiency of transfer credit processes.


Seven provincial credit transfer councils (in Alberta, BC, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia) expand the 2014 MOU, signing a new agreement to enhance student mobility across Canada. BCCAT’s membership policies (regarding private and out-of-province institutions) are revised and consolidated into one main policy document. See 3A: Membership in the BC Transfer System. The Math/Stats articulation committee, BC Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics and Statistics (BCcupms), celebrates its 50th anniversary. BCTransferGuide.ca surpasses 200,000 course agreements. The website also sees a dramatic rise in usership, with 1.8 million unique visits (24% more than the previous year).


The ministry responsible for advanced education asks BCCAT to work with BCcampus and post-secondary institutional partners to provide oversight for the integration of BC’s online education planning and application services and the further development of a common application service for BC’s public post-secondary system. ApplyBC and Transcripts BC are integrated with Education Planner to form a new, consolidated and centralized education planning and application website, EducationPlannerBC.ca.


The ARUCC/PCCAT Transcript and Transfer Guide is launched, designed to serve as a national, online resource for Canadian registrars, transfer practitioners, and post-secondary policy developers. BCTransferGuide.ca and EducationPlanner.bc see an approximate average of 150,000 unique visits (combined) per month.


BCCAT and parallel Councils in Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick sign memorandum of understanding to facilitate inter-and intra-provincial credit transfer in Canada. BCCAT celebrates its 25th anniversary. To commemorate, the Council launches the BCCAT Transfer Awards program, acknowledging the exemplary contributions of individuals to supporting and advancing transfer and articulation in BC.

BCTransferGuide.ca is refreshed and updated with enhanced search functions.


BCCAT oversees provincial review of the associate degree and changes to curriculum requirements. 


BCCAT Enabling of the BC Transfer System Initiative results in all member institutions becoming both senders and receivers of articulation requests. All guidebooks and policies are re-written to reflect this major shift in policy and practice.


Robert Fleming is appointed Executive Director and Co-chair of BCCAT.

BCCAT undertakes the first comprehensive rewrite of the Principles and Guidelines for Transfer since 1976.

The College of the Rockies is approved to offer its first degree. With this approval, 22 out of 25 public post-secondary institutions in BC are offering degrees.


The Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development undertakes a Business Process Review of the BC Transfer System. Athabasca University is admitted by Council to the BC Transfer System under the new policy, making it the second out-of-province institution in the system.


Council approves a policy in December 2008 which allows Alberta post-secondary institutions to enter the BC Transfer System based on strong evidence of existing transfer activity and student traffic. The Alberta Council on Admissions and Transfer (ACAT) approves a similar policy allowing BC post-secondary institutions into the Alberta Transfer System in May 2009.


BCCAT releases Best Practice Guide: A Resource for Receiving Institutions. BCCAT also releases the policy document Recording Block Transfers with PCTIA-Accredited Institutions. This policy allows private institutions that are non-degree granting institutions to be included in the block transfer section of the BC Transfer Guide. The University Act is amended to allow five institutions to be covered under the Act as “special purpose, teaching universities,” later to be called “teaching-intensive universities. The new universities include Kwantlen Polytechnic University (formerly Kwantlen University College), Vancouver Island University (formerly Malaspina University-College), the University of the Fraser Valley (formerly the University College of the Fraser Valley), Capilano University (formerly Capilano College), and the Emily Carr University of Art and Design (formerly Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design). With this move, there are 11 universities, 11 colleges, and 3 institutes in the BC public post-secondary system.


The University of Phoenix is approved by DQAB to offer specific degrees in BC and is subsequently approved to negotiate transfer agreements within the BC Transfer System. The University is removed from the Transfer Guide in 2008 after it announces its intention to move out of BC. 2007 The Institute of Indigenous Government is merged with the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology. 2007 Lansbridge University has its degree-granting consent removed by the Ministry of Advanced Education and is subsequently removed by BCCAT from the BC Transfer System


2006-2007 Fairleigh Dickinson University and Quest University are approved by DQAB to offer specific degrees in BC and are subsequently approved to negotiate transfer agreements within the BC Transfer System.


Vancouver Central College (later Alexander College) is approved by the Degree Quality Assessment Board (DQAB) to offer an Associate Degree and is subsequently approved to negotiate transfer agreements within the BC Transfer System.


The Student Transitions Project (STP) is formed as a partnership between the Ministries of Education and Advanced Education and public post-secondary institutions to link student data across education systems to answer questions on student mobility. BCCAT joined the STP in late 2005 because of intersection between its admissions work and the work of the STP. BCCAT releases improved version of web-based Transfer Credit Evaluation System and launches BCTransferGuide.ca as a stand alone website. Three private institutions (University Canada West, Sprott-Shaw Community College, and Lansbridge University) are approved to negotiate transfer agreements for specific degree programs and have those agreements listed in the BC Transfer Guide. Thompson Rivers University is formed through the amalgamation of the University College of the Cariboo and BC Open University. Okanagan University College is split to become UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College.


Subsequent to the passage of the Degree Authorization Act, colleges are given authority to grant applied baccalaureate degrees and university colleges are given authority to grant applied Master’s degrees. 2003 BCCAT expands its role in the area of admissions by forming an Admissions Committee and undertaking a number of projects to help better understand student mobility, capacity, and demand.


Corpus Christi College becomes the fourth private institution in the transfer system and is listed in the BC Transfer Guide. 2001 Development of a web-based Transfer Credit Evaluation System to further improve the speed and efficiency of administrative processes.


Release by BCCAT of Block Transfer Handbook with revised principles and guidelines for block transfer. 2000 Revision of curriculum requirements for associate degrees and encouragement of the establishment of guaranteed transfer credit for all courses completed within an associate degree. By 2001, all traditional universities and all university colleges had formally approved such a guarantee.


Initiation of Transfer Innovation Projects with Articulation Committees to improve transfer, recommend innovative approaches to transfer, and provide better information on transfer options.


BCCAT leads system-wide examination of transfer policy and models to determine whether alternative approaches, such as block transfer, could replace or supplement course-to-course transfer. Resulted in agreement that course-to-course transfer is a viable system but that improvements can be made by actively exploring alternative forms of transfer.


Implementation by BCCAT of a comprehensive research program to measure student mobility and transfer system effectiveness. Charting A New Course released by Ministry of Education, Skills and Training as a strategic plan for the college, university college, institute, and agency system: Plan includes recommendation that course-by-course assessment for transfer be replaced by block transfer.


Kwantlen College becomes a university college. University colleges and two institutions (BCIT and Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design) given independent degree granting authority. Technical University of BC announced. Royal Roads University established. BCCAT develops and posts the first searchable, web-based BC Transfer Guide as an adjunct to the paper-based Guide. The College and Institute Act was amended in 1995 to create Education Councils which were given the authority, jointly with College Boards, to develop and implement policies pertaining to the granting of transfer credit.


Langara College formed as a separate institution from Vancouver Community College.


Yukon College becomes part of the BC transfer system and is listed in the BC Transfer Guide.


BCCAT revises and updates the Principles and Guidelines for Transfer: Guidelines not distributed for formal approval by each institution because changes were viewed to be minor and more of a housekeeping nature. BCCAT, in consultation with institutions, develops curriculum requirements for provincially recognized two-year academic credentials – the Associate of Arts degree and the Associate of Science degree. Trinity Western University becomes part of the BC transfer system as a private receiving institution and is listed in the BC Transfer Guide.


Fraser Valley College becomes a university college. The Institute of Indigenous Government is established in Vancouver. Columbia College and Coquitlam College become the first private institutions to join formally the BC transfer system and are listed in the BC Transfer Guide. Both Columbia and Coquitlam Colleges had developed articulation agreements with BC universities for many years prior to being included in the Transfer Guide.


The provincial government announces the establishment of the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George. BCCAT publishes first single, annual BC Transfer Guide, thus replacing individual university Transfer Guides.


Three colleges (Malaspina, Cariboo, and Okanagan) become university colleges to expand degree opportunities outside the Lower Mainland and Victoria. Degrees are developed and offered under auspices of traditional BC universities. University colleges become sending and receiving institutions.


BC Council on Admissions and Transfer (BCCAT) created as a result of a recommendation in the Access for All Report. Created to formalize and to provide more consistency and staff resources to the function of coordinating transfer in an increasingly differentiated system. A formal agency but with no legislative authority. Continued to coordinate Articulation Committees and transfer agreements among autonomous institutions using a facilitative approach. Funded by provincial government. Council membership made up of post-secondary institutional representatives but no government representatives.


The Provincial Access Committee releases report entitled Access to Advanced Education and Job Training in British Columbia (the Access for All Report). The Open Learning Agency is formed through legislation by combining the Open Learning Institute and the Knowledge Network. The new agency includes the Open University and Open College and provides a credit bank function for students.


University academic vice presidents form transfer credit subcommittee to develop a set of policies and procedures which had to be met by private colleges before their courses could be considered transferable to universities.


Post-Secondary Articulation Coordinating Committee continues to meet to oversee articulation and transfer and the work of an expanding number of Articulation Committees.


Academic Council and two other intermediary councils abolished through College and Institute Amendment Act: Councils abolished because of widespread criticism about their centralizing role at the expense of institutional autonomy, their confusion in mandate, and their lack of coordination among each other. Nicola Valley Institute of Technology created in Merritt to address low participation and success rates of First Nations students in other institutions.


Kwantlen College formed as a separate institution from Douglas College.


Creation by Act of five provincial institutes besides BCIT, which had existed previously (Justice Institute, Open Learning Institute, Emily Carr College of Art, Pacific Vocational Institute, and Pacific Marine Training Institute).


Creation by Act of the Academic Council: One of three intermediary councils created to coordinate activities across colleges and institutes. Academic Council given responsibility for articulation and transfer. Post-Secondary Articulation Coordinating Committee continued its work as an agent of the Academic Council. Colleges and Provincial Institutes Act passed: Perceived by institutions as an attempt by government to play more of a central coordinating role in development of a college system. Government assumed responsibility for 100% of both capital and operating costs at colleges.


Post-Secondary Articulation Coordinating Committee develops first set of Principles and Guidelines for Transfer: Adopted by all college councils and university senates.


Four new community colleges established by government in areas of the province not yet served by colleges (Northern Lights, Northwest, East Kootenay, and North Island), based on a recommendation in the 1974 report of the Task Force on the Community College in British Columbia.


The Post-Secondary Articulation Coordinating Committee is formed: Role of overseeing transfer and articulation in BC. Membership included senior academic officer from each public college and university and registrar from each university. Academic Board is dissolved by government.


Provincial government melds regional community colleges with provincial vocational institutes.


In December at a conference sponsored by the Academic Board, decision made to develop the first standing committees (which became Articulation Committees) to deal with transfer problems in specific disciplines: An understanding that if educators did not solve perceived problems on their own, government may intervene. Subsequently, each university published its own Transfer Guide which listed equivalent college and university courses and could be used by students in planning their education. In November, 180 students occupy the Administration Offices at SFU to protest lack of transfer opportunities for Vancouver City College students who had enrolled in 1st and 2nd year university transfer courses. The protestors were removed by the RCMP after 54 hours.


First research studies initiated under auspices of the Academic Board on transfer student performance. First transfer students from VCC and Selkirk accepted at university through informal agreements.


Nine more community colleges formed across BC based on local support through plebiscites (Selkirk, Okanagan, Capilano, College of New Caledonia, Malaspina, Douglas, Cariboo, Camosun, and Fraser Valley).


Vancouver City College (VCC) becomes first autonomous community college in BC, formed by bringing together Vancouver Vocational Institute (1949), Vancouver School of Art (1925), and King Edward Continuing Education Centre (1962). Simon Fraser University (SFU) opens as a full university in Burnaby rather than as a four-year college, as was recommended in the Macdonald report.


First technology students enrol at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) created at same Burnaby site as the BC Vocational School.


University of Victoria (formerly Victoria College) becomes a full university and is given degree-granting status. Macdonald had recommended a four-year college. Academic Board of Higher Education of BC created through amendments to the Universities Act, following recommendation from Macdonald report: Key roles were advising on development of new colleges and ensuring colleges were adhering to consistent academic standards. Board assumed a leadership role in formalizing the transfer process. Membership included university representatives but no college representatives. Board developed a facilitative and collaborative rather than an authoritative relationship with colleges. Public Schools Act amended allowing establishment of autonomous colleges under school board control: Colleges to be formed following local plebiscites and referenda. Institutions to offer two years of Arts and Science programming as part of their program base. Students to be able to transfer credit to universities. Beginning of need for cooperation and coordination among institutions to ensure program quality because of autonomy of new institutions offering degree level programming.


Release of the report Higher Education in British Columbia and a Plan for the Future by John B. Macdonald, President of UBC. Recommendations included: Creation of two-year colleges which offer a range of programs, including academic programs at the 1st and 2nd year level and technical programs. Colleges to be autonomous and self-governing and not part of a unified provincial system. Colleges to be under school board control, supported in part by local taxation and designed to meet local needs. Creation of two four-year colleges in Victoria and the Lower Mainland.


BC Vocational School opens in Burnaby under direct management of the provincial government. The Nanaimo Vocational School had been providing vocational education since 1936.

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