The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials

Preamble

This document is an integral part of the Pan-Canadian Quality Assurance Framework for the Assessment of International Academic Credentials. It is largely based on the General Guiding Principles for Good Practice in the Assessment of Foreign Credentials produced by the provincial credential assessment services supported by the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials, which in turn is linked to the Recommendation on Criteria and Procedures for the Assessment of Foreign Qualifications produced by the Council of Europe and UNESCO in connection with the Lisbon recognition Convention (1997).

Because this code of good practice is a response to the globalization of markets and increasing labour force mobility, it recognizes the importance of linking the principles adopted in Canada to the good practice models developed elsewhere in the world.

In Canada, the provinces and territories have exclusive jurisdiction over education, and education systems vary from one jurisdiction to another. Given the inherent diversity of Canada's education systems, the Pan-Canadian Quality Assurance Framework for the Assessment of International Academic Credentials recognizes:
  • the need to promote fair, credible, and concerted methods for assessing international academic credentials;
  • the need to promote consistency and the portability of assessments done by organizations involved in assessment (assessment services or agencies, postsecondary educational institutions, professional associations, regulatory bodies, the private sector, etc.);
  • the benefits that accrue to Canada from collaborative efforts to examine issues associated with the assessment of international academic credentials.

All of the organizations that adhere to the Pan-Canadian Quality Assurance Framework for the Assessment of International Academic Credentials subscribe to the following 41 principles and recommendations.


Fundamental principles

1. Assessment must be performed without discrimination because of age, ancestry, colour, citizenship, disability, family status, gender, marital status, place of origin, political beliefs, religion, sexual orientation, or source of income.
2. Assessors must be free from conflicts of interest, and excuse themselves from cases where there is a possible appearance of conflict of interest.
3. Holders of international academic credentials must have adequate access, upon request, to academic credential assessment services.
4. The procedures and criteria used in the assessment of foreign academic credentials must be part of a quality assurance process in which the methodology aims to make assessment procedures consistent, clear, rational, and reliable to ensure that all applicants receive a fair treatment.
5. Procedures for the assessment of international academic credentials must be periodically reviewed with a view to increasing clarity and eliminating, as much as possible, any requirement resulting in undue complications in the procedure.
6. The general approach to dealing with international academic credentials and comparing them to a particular system must consider the diversity of educational traditions in different countries.
7. Regardless of the purpose of the assessment, the same basic methodology must be applied to all assessment procedures.
8. The criteria used to assess international academic credentials have been formulated with the purpose of ensuring greater consistency of assessment outcomes across Canada. It is acknowledged that some variability in decisions or opinions must be expected and that decisions may vary depending on the provincial or territorial system of education as well as the institutional type involved.




Assessment procedures


Assessment procedures


9. The assessment of an international academic credential must:
  • situate the academic credential within the framework of the education system of origin to take into account its relative place and function compared to other academic credentials of the system in which it was issued;
  • identify, in the host provincial or territorial education systems, the level and type of academic credential that is most comparable to the international academic credential, taking into account the purpose for which the assessment is requested; and
  • determine, where applicable, the level of comparability between an academic credential issued in Canada and an international academic credential, with a view to possible recognition of the latter.
10. The assessment must take into account the results of previous assessments performed within the organization to ensure consistency in recognition practice. These assessments must be recorded in an inventory and used as a guideline for providing consistent decisions or advice. Any substantial change in established practices must be justified and recorded.
11. The decisions or opinions of assessing organizations should be based on the information available to them at the time the assessment is performed. Further information may result in the modification of these decisions.
12. The precedent decisions or opinions and guidelines should be routinely reviewed to ensure they are still current, accurate, and applicable.



Processing times


13. The time normally required to process applications for assessment must be specified, and every effort must be made to produce an assessment within that time period. Time is counted from the moment when all the necessary documentation has been provided by the applicant and by the educational institutions. If there is a delay, the assessing organization must inform affected applicants of the reason for the delay and of the length of time required to complete the assessments.



Information requirements


14. The assessing organization must provide standardized information regarding the procedures and requirements for the assessment of international academic credentials. Information must be clear, current, accurate, and publicly accessible. It must be provided automatically to all applicants and to individuals responsible for making preliminary inquiries about academic credential assessment and must indicate, in particular:
  • the documentation to be provided and the requirements regarding the authentication and translation of documents;
  • the mode of submission, required content, and format of required documents;
  • what documentation may or will be shared with other organizations, retained by the assessment service, or returned to the applicant;
  • the steps in the assessment process the applicant can undertake from outside of Canada;
  • the specific role of professional associations, regulatory bodies, and educational institutions in the assessment and recognition processes;
  • the scope of the assessment notice or assessment report, in particular where admission to an educational institution or access to a profession or trade is concerned;
  • the anticipated time required for the assessment process;
  • the cost of the assessment; and
  • the procedure for appealing decisions or reviewing opinions.
15. The assessing organization, the applicant, and the educational institution that conferred the academic credential share responsibility for providing information.
  • The assessing organization must provide the applicant with complete information regarding its requirements for academic credential assessment.
  • The assessing organization must maintain or have access to a bank of information on education systems.
  • The applicant is responsible for providing the documents and information required by the assessment service.
  • Educational institutions are the official entity responsible for providing information about academic credentials earned at the institutions and any other relevant information such as course content, program structure, etc.

Fees


16. Fees charged to those who apply for the assessment of international academic credentials must be kept to a minimum.
17. To the greatest extent possible, special arrangements should be made for individuals with limited income and for other disadvantaged groups so that no one will be prevented from applying for assessment of his or her international academic credential because of the cost involved.



Translations


18. Where possible, assessments should rely primarily on documents in the language in which they are issued from an educational institution.
19. Subject to the usual practices, requirements, and directives of the assessing organization, the translation of only essential documents issued in a language other than one of Canada's two official languages should be required. Such translations should be entrusted to certified translators.



Document requirements


20. Official documents, including the titles of international academic credentials, must be provided in the language in which they were issued.
21. For verification purposes, official documents issued and received directly from the educational institutions will be preferred. If official documents cannot be used, original documents may also be accepted. The type of document used for verification must be clearly indicated on the assessment report.
22. In the case of regulatory assessments, academic documents that indicate failed or unsuccessful completion of an academic year or program, if accepted, will normally not be factored into or affect the assessment outcome. However, failed or unsuccessful completion of an academic year or program may be considered in the case of assessments for the purpose of admission to postsecondary study.
23. In some exceptional cases, such as those involving refugees and others who are unable to document their qualifications for good reasons, sworn statements before a legal authority may be accepted in lieu of full documentation.
24. The assessment organization must have an established process to authenticate documents. All submitted documents must be examined to make sure they are authentic, have not been falsified, and are not fraudulent.
25. Submission of documents that are confirmed to be fraudulent or falsified following verification with the issuing institution or jurisdictional authority will normally result in a refusal to complete the assessment process. Documents deemed to be fraudulent, or falsified in any way, should be retained by the assessing organization and the organization should enact other internal policies.
26. In cases where it is difficult to obtain an answer from the relevant authorities, the assessment organization may determine whether to accept or reject documents whose authenticity is not proven. In such cases, the organization must document the grounds for accepting or refusing the documents, including precedents, document analysis techniques, or other grounds.
27. In cases where documents submitted for assessment are detected as being fraudulent or altered after an assessment report has been issued, the organization should retrieve and rescind the assessment report and enact other internal policies.



Status of institutions and programs


28. In view of the wide diversity of educational institutions, the status of an academic credential must be established by taking into account the status of the program and institution where the academic credential was earned.
29. Academic credential assessments should only be undertaken for studies done in recognized institutions. A recognized institution is one that has been formally approved by competent authorities within the country or that is widely accepted by other institutions and organizations inside and/or outside the country.
30. Where recognition of an educational institution does not guarantee recognition of all the academic credentials issued by that institution, an academic credential will only be assessed if the program of study is recognized by a competent authority.



Purpose/outcome of the assessment


31. Since the same data and criteria are used to establish the level of each academic credential, the assessment outcome for a specific academic credential must be consistent with other relevant assessment results.
32. While the same basic methodology must be applied in all assessment procedures, the assessment of international academic credentials may take into account the purpose for which recognition is sought. The assessment report should clearly indicate the purpose for which the academic credential has been assessed and/or any restrictions on the report's use.
33. The assessment outcome of an international academic credential may take one of the following forms:
  • a written report containing a comparative assessment of the academic credential prepared by an assessment service, a regulatory body, or an educational institution;
  • a written report containing a comparative assessment of the academic credential for general employment purposes delivered to the applicant and, if requested by the applicant, to a third party;
  • a written report to an educational institution or one of its divisions (faculty, department, etc.), pursuant to an agreement with the institution and for the purposes of admission to its programs;
  • a written report to a regulatory body, pursuant to an agreement with that body, that will use this advice as the first step in its review of applications for licensing/registration/certification that authorize the practice of a trade or occupation; or
  • Formal communication to an applicant containing admission and/or transfer credit assessment results prepared by a postsecondary institution.
34. In the case of advice issued for educational institutions or their divisions and for regulatory bodies, a written statement containing a comparative assessment of the academic credential should be sent to the applicant, with a view to enhancing quality assurance and transparency.



Level of study


35. Assessment of a particular academic credential must be based entirely on analysis of the normal entry and completion requirements for that academic credential. The assessment outcome must not be influenced by the applicant's prior studies.
36. Assessment of a particular academic credential must be based on the entry and completion requirements in effect at the time the academic credential was completed.
37. International academic credentials at the same level obtained in different programs may not be added together to constitute an academic credential at a higher level of study.
38. Assessment must be based on the examination of the academic credentials presented for assessment and must not cite the prior completion of other academic credentials if those prerequisite academic credentials are not submitted for assessment or if it is not necessary to mention them.



Assessment criteria


39. A variety of criteria must be applied to determine the level and type of a program of study, including but not limited to:
  • entrance requirements (e.g., what are the normal requirements for admission to the program? What is the level of study required in the country of origin?);
  • full-time duration of the program (e.g., what is the normal duration of the program when a person studies full time?);
  • structure of the program (e.g., how is the program structured? What type of program is it, such as apprenticeship, vocational, academic, etc.?);
  • content of the program (e.g., in what discipline? What courses? How many hours of studies?);
  • end purpose of the academic credential in the country of origin (e.g., for what purpose was the program taken? To obtain the right to practise a specific trade or profession, or as a prerequisite for further studies?);
  • bridges to traditional academic credentials (e.g., to what other programs does this academic credential provide access in the country of origin?);
  • status of the teaching institution and/or program of studies.


Duration of the program of study


40. One academic year of study, as recognized by the official designated authority in the country of origin, must not entitle the applicant to more than one academic year of recognition. However, this year-to-year comparison may be overruled by other factors such as learning outcomes or the structure and content of the program of study.



Requests for review or appeals


41. Upon request, the assessing organization must inform the candidate of the factors on which its decision or opinion is based, of the review or appeal procedures available to him or her, and of the applicable deadlines. The procedures should be progressive and provide for more than one level of decision making—they ultimately prevent the assessing organization from being both judge and party by providing a right to lodge an appeal with an external, independent group.



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