The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials

The basics

The Pan-Canadian Quality Assurance Framework for the Assessment of International Academic Credentials (QAF) is a guiding-principle document. It was developed in collaboration with:
  • educational institutions;
  • professional regulatory authorities; and
  • academic credential assessment services.
The QAF:
  • respects the autonomy of organizations; and
  • is not prescriptive.
The QAF emphasizes fundamental principles, such as:
  • standards for the competencies of individual assessors;
  • collaboration and sharing of information among organizations;
  • the integrity of the process; and
  • transparency.
The QAF recognizes the importance of linking the principles adopted in Canada to the good-practice models developed elsewhere in the world. As a result, the QAF is largely based on:

Consult the Pan-Canadian Quality Assurance Framework for the Assessment of International Academic Credentials (QAF) to get additional information.


Respecting the diversity of organizations involved in recognition

In Canada, academic credential assessments can be required for different purposes, such as:
  • immigration – under federal and provincial programs;
  • further studies – for admission to universities and colleges;
  • employment – in regulated and non-regulated occupations.
Such assessments are conducted by different organizations, such as:
  • academic credential assessment services;
  • immigration-designated agencies;
  • educational institutions;
  • professional regulatory authorities and associations;
  • trade/apprenticeship offices;
  • employers.
Close to 300,000 assessments1 are conducted annually in Canada by:
  • educational institutions (47 per cent);
  • professional regulatory authorities (23 per cent); and
  • academic credential assessment services (30 per cent).

The overarching goal of the QAF is to promote the consistency and portability of assessments conducted by different organizations in Canada.

1. For more statistical data, consult CICIC's A Feasibility Study for a Distance Education Program for Canadian Academic Credential Assessors, 2012.


Objectives of the Quality Assurance Framework

The principal objective of the QAF is to promote the continuous improvement of practices and methodology related to academic credential assessment services. As a result, the QAF encourages a collective approach to achieving greater consistency in the assessment of academic credentials at the pan-Canadian level, and the enhanced consistency and portability of academic credential assessments. It also helps to develop closer ties among assessors. To maximize the quality of these services, it requires standards for competencies of individual assessors and of the organization as a whole. These same standards should be expected from organizations employing third parties to perform academic assessments.

More specifically, the QAF encourages and assists organizations with the development of their quality assurance practices. These practices, in turn, enable two specific results to be achieved:
  • greater consistency of assessments within a particular organization; and
  • greater consistency at the pan-Canadian level, and improved consistency and portability of academic credential assessments.

Scope of the Quality Assurance Framework

The QAF respects the autonomy of the various organizations involved in academic credential assessment. Within the QAF, these organizations are accountable to their own supervisory authority. At the same time, the QAF recognizes that those who apply for an assessment of their international academic credentials need guarantees regarding the quality of the services rendered. Educational institutions, employers, assessment services, professional associations, and regulatory bodies, as well as governments, also all need to rely on the quality of the academic credential assessors' work and on the transparency of their assessment activities.

The QAF is composed of two separate but complementary levels of quality assurance:
  • a concerted pan-Canadian approach to quality assurance in the assessment of international academic credentials based on principles of collaboration, competency, integrity, feedback, and transparency; and
  • internal quality assurance practices that adhere to the pan-Canadian framework in every organization involved in the assessment of international academic credentials.

The QAF aims to be applicable in its foundations and usable in its practice by all organizations assessing international academic credentials in Canada (assessment services and agencies, universities, colleges, professional associations, regulatory bodies, employers, etc.).

While the QAF can be adopted by different types of organizations assessing academic credentials, its principles can take various forms and applications depending on the purpose of assessments. For example, assessments for the purpose of licensing and assessments for the purposes of admission to postsecondary study may result in different approaches to the assessment of transcripts. Nonetheless, though variations exist in the interpretations and practices, the same basic methodology must be applied to all assessment procedures.


Management of the Quality Assurance Framework

Because of the autonomy of the organizations involved in assessing international academic credentials, the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces and territories over education (and in particular, their responsibility regarding academic credentials), and organizational differences, the QAF plays a purely incentive role, and its only authority comes from the organizations that adhere to its overall vision.

Governance of the QAF requires a support committee made up of representatives of organizations that adhere to it. In January 2014, a Quality Assurance Framework Steering Committee was established with the mandate to:
  • improve the quality and consistency of academic credential assessments by supporting the assessment community's broad acceptance of the principles and guidelines outlined in the QAF, with a view to facilitating the integration of internationally educated students and professionals;
  • support CICIC in the QAF's management to ensure its continuous improvement, and to guide organizations in applying the framework's principles;
  • promote the QAF's adoption among various sectors of the academic credential assessment community in line with Canada's international obligations regarding assessment and recognition of international academic credentials, including its adoption within their own organization, if applicable.
Membership of the Quality Assurance Framework Steering Committee will always be made up of:
  • a representative from the Alliance of Credential Evaluation Services of Canada;
  • a representative from the Association of Registrars of the Universities and Colleges of Canada;
  • a representative from the Canadian Network of National Associations of Regulators;
  • up to four members-at-large with experience in credential assessment and/or immigrant integration; and
  • a representative of CICIC as a non-voting member.

In this regard, CICIC acts as the custodian of the QAF under the aegis of CMEC and under the guidance of the Quality Assurance Steering Committee. Since CICIC is the product of Canada's obligations regarding the assessment and recognition of international academic credentials, it has the necessary capabilities to produce the tools associated with a QAF and to support their operational implementation.


Ongoing improvement process

Quality assurance is based on ongoing improvements and on periodic reviews. Sustained collaboration leads to identifying the improvements to be made to the QAF and its tools on a regular basis.

CICIC, assisted by the Quality Assurance Framework Steering Committee, helps organizations that adhere to the QAF refine their assessment practices. This work takes different forms depending on organizations' different needs and circumstances. The objective is to concretely support organizations in their efforts.

However, improvements made on a regular basis do not exempt the QAF from a more formal review. The QAF will therefore be reviewed periodically and adapted to new conditions.


Comply with the Pan-Canadian Quality Assurance Framework within your organization

Learn about the four steps to compliance with the Pan-Canadian Quality Assurance Framework, including all required documents.