Accreditation & Quality Assurance

As the agency that coordinates the BC Transfer System, the BC Council on Admissions and Transfer (BCCAT) often gets inquiries from students and institutions in other provinces and other countries asking whether a BC institution is "recognized" or "accredited." Usually, the purpose of the inquiry is to establish whether credits from this BC institution can transfer to BC universities, and by extension, whether they should therefore be acceptable to universities or colleges outside the province.

Quality Assurance in the BC Transfer System

In Canada, post-secondary education falls under provincial jurisdiction, and each province or territory in Canada has developed its own quality assurance mechanisms to ensure the legitimacy of institutions, public and private. In BC, acts of the provincial legislature establish and govern public institutions and the Minster responsible for advanced education approves individual degree programs for both public and private institutions informed by recommendations from the Degree Quality Assessment Board (DQAB). BCCAT relies on these quality assurance mechanisms as a criterion for considering membership to the BC Transfer System but is not, itself, charged with responsibility for quality assessment or recognition of institutions or programs.

Use of the Term "Accredited"

Canada does not have a national or regional accreditation system for post-secondary institutions and therefore educational jurisdictions, except in some limited circumstances, do not normally employ the term “accredited” to denote provincially authorized or recognized institutions. For a complete explanation, readers are referred to Quality Assurance Practices for Postsecondary Institutions in Canada, an excellent document maintained by the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC). This fact sheet provides an “overview of Canada’s postsecondary institutions and the types of quality assurance mechanisms that are in place.” Additional resources and links are provided, including detailed information on British Columbia Quality Assurance Practices. There are only two instances in BC where the use of the word “accredited” is appropriate:
  • Many programs in British Columbia institutions have been accredited by professional accrediting or licensing associations.
  • In BC, private institutions that are “registered” or “designated” have successfuly undergone the voluntary certification process of the Private Training Institutions Branch (PTIB) of the BC Ministry of Advanced Education which administers the Private Training Act and associated regulations. (“Designated” institutions are allowed access to student aid and Education Quality Assurance, or EQA, designation.) This process is required to establish eligibility to participate in provincial and federal student financial assistance programs. It does not imply or guarantee that courses or programs taken at these institutions will be recognized for transfer credit at any of the public post-secondary institutions.
    Note: These processes were formerly overseen by the Private Career and Training Institutions Authority (PCTIA) which was dissolved in 2014.