Principles & Guidelines for Transfer


Credit transfer provides efficient, cost-effective access to post-secondary education and limits geographical barriers for students. The BC Transfer System includes public and recognized private and out-of-province institutions, facilitates student mobility, supports system quality and ensures the portability and applicability of credit by providing dependable, accurate resources to students and institutions. Key system values are those of transparency, fairness, autonomy, predictability and accountability, built upon trust between system partners.

The BC Council on Admissions and Transfer as manager of the BC Transfer System and on behalf of its members adopted this revised set of Principles and Guidelines in May 2010. Originally approved by all members, they have been revised and updated to reflect the changing BC post-secondary system.

In the BC Transfer System

  • Formal transfer credit agreements recorded in the BC Transfer Guide constitute a guarantee to students.

  • Students should not be required to retake courses successfully completed elsewhere, nor should they expect to receive duplicate credit for equivalent courses.

  • To support and encourage planning, students must have access to information on course equivalencies, program prerequisites, and levels of achievement on which admission and transfer credit will be awarded.

  • Students are responsible for informing themselves about transfer processes.

  • Where an institution defines a basis of admission for transfer students, the institution should specify the minimum cumulative GPA and the minimum number of credits required.

  • Where an assessment of previous academic performance forms part of an admission decision, a transfer student's post-secondary academic record should be the primary consideration, rather than performance in secondary school.

  • The minimum grade for individual course transfer is normally a passing grade, as defined by the institution awarding the original credit. A higher course grade should not be required by the receiving institution unless the same requirement applies to the equivalent internal course.

  • Students should have access to avenues of appeal for transfer credit decisions.

  • Students should not be disadvantaged by changes made to transfer arrangements while courses are in progress.

  • Each institution in the BC Transfer System should plan for and accept transferring students using clearly stated policies and procedures to govern the awarding of transfer credit.

  • Institutions may limit admission to programs based on space availability or on criteria pertinent to the program.

  • Variations in institutional programs that reflect differing missions, context, expertise, and modes of delivery should be respected and accommodated: accommodation strategies may include institutions setting flexible course or credit requirements for transfer students.

  • Given system norms and expectations regarding appropriate qualifications for instructors of transferable courses, institutions should be prepared to provide information on their instructor qualification policies upon request.

  • Institutions should allocate appropriate resources to transfer administration, including sending a representative to the relevant articulation committees.

  • Institutions should respond to articulation requests in a timely manner, preferably within two months of the receipt of the request.

  • All articulation shall be based on an assessment of equivalence that recognizes that effective learning can occur under a variety of arrangements and conditions. Assessment may include (but not be limited to) comparisons of learning outcomes, scope and level of content, assessment strategies, hours of instruction, student success in subsequent courses, program accreditation and provincial or national certification requirements.

  • The institution seeking transfer credit should provide course or program outlines that contain all the elements necessary for the assessment of equivalence.

  • Institutions should provide a rationale for a denial of an articulation request.

  • It is the responsibility of all institutions to maintain the standard of content, outcomes and instruction upon which an original transfer agreement was based, to re-articulate when necessary and to provide adequate notice of curricular changes affecting established transfer agreements.

  • An award of transfer credit should confer certainty: it should be clear what credit is being awarded as well as the number of credits awarded (normally the same number of credits as for the equivalent course).

  • Members of the BC Transfer System are expected to submit data regularly to the relevant system repositories.

  • Institutions are encouraged to review research on the effectiveness of the BC Transfer System and to adjust their policies, practices or standards where advisable.

  • Institutions should be advised by student mobility research when assessing the business case for articulation for their institution, courses or programs.

Credit Transfer
Credit transfer consists of the granting of credit by one institution for equivalent courses completed at another. Once transfer credit is granted, the course is accepted in lieu of an internal course and can be applied in the same way as the internal course to fulfill general or specific credential requirements. Block transfer may also be granted for completed programs. Course and program equivalencies that have been articulated (i.e. assessed for equivalence and awarded credit through a formal inter-institutional request process) are recorded as transfer agreements in the BC Transfer Guide. Non-articulated courses are assessed and credit is awarded on a case-by-case basis.

Transfer Student
Some institutions formally define a basis of admission for transfer students and specify criteria for that admission category, but the term transfer student is also used more broadly to refer to any student who wishes to transfer credit from one institution to another.

Membership in the BC Transfer System

The BC Transfer System is made up of BC public institutions, some BC private institutions and two out-of-province institutions. Membership is based on approval through a recognized quality assurance process and is described in detail below.  For more information, see BCCAT's Policy 3A: Membership in the BC Transfer System.

  • All BC public institutions are ongoing members of the BC Transfer System. BC public institutions are under provincial oversight and adhere to rigorous quality assessment processes as described below.All public institutions have been authorized through Acts of the provincial legislature. The mission, mandate, responsibilities and governance of public institutions are specified principally in the University Act, and the College and Institute Act of the BC Legislature, as well as in certain institution-specific Acts. Establishment by legislation is sometimes referred to as receiving a charter. The provincial government provides the majority of funding and exercises regulatory oversight for all public institutions.
  • All public institutions are subject to an annual accountability framework. All public post-secondary institutions in BC receive the majority of their funding from the provincial government, and are subject to a detailed accountability framework every year, conducted through the provincial ministry responsible for post-secondary education. The provincial post-secondary accountability framework emphasizes institutional performance and quality through the establishment and measurement of key performance indicators.
  • All degree programs must be approved through the provincial processes as outlined by the Degree Quality Assessment Board and undergo rigorous quality assessment processes. The BC Degree Quality Assessment Board (DQAB) is a provincial Board appointed by the Minister of Advanced Education for the purpose of assessing the quality of proposed degree programs at public and private institutions in BC, and recommending approval (or not) to the Minister. The DQAB can conduct both institutional and program reviews using a set of rigorous academic criteria and processes including peer review of degree proposals.

Private institutions that have undergone the rigorous quality assessment processes of the Degree Quality Assessment Board (DQAB), and that have been authorized by the Minister of Advanced Education (i.e. programs given "Ministerial Consent") to offer degree programs in BC are eligible to apply for membership to the BC Transfer System.

  • this approval extends only to the authorized degree program(s); it does not apply to non-degree or other programs at the private institution; and
  • approval to articulate does not guarantee that transfer credit will be awarded by receiving institutions; and
  • transfer agreements may not be reciprocal: reverse credit is not guaranteed.

Members admitted based in part on DQAB approval to offer degree program(s) in BC sign a "Letter of Assurance" committing them to adherence to the above Principles and Guidelines for Transfer and to the norms and standards of the BC Transfer System. Membership can be suspended or revoked. For more information, see BCCAT Policy 3A: Membership of the BC Transfer System.

The BC Council on Admissions and Transfer also has a policy outlining the processes for recording formal transfer agreements between BC public institutions and private, non-member institutions in the BC Transfer Guide. This policy is titled BCCAT Policy 3B: Listing of Transfer Agreements with Non-Member Institutions in the BC Transfer Guide.  Outside the agreements covered by this policy, credit granted for courses taken at an institution that is not a member of the BC Transfer System is not normally recorded in the BC Transfer Guide.

Yukon College, a publicly funded institution, became a member of the BC Transfer System in 1993. Through a reciprocal protocol agreement between BCCAT and ACAT (Alberta Council on Admissions and Transfer), Athabasca University, a publicly funded institution, became a member of the BC Transfer System in 2012.

BCCAT's Policy 3A: Membership in the BC Transfer System outlines procedures and processes for prospective membership in the BC Transfer System by other Canadian public post-secondary institutions not operating in BC.