Policy Briefs and Reports

As part of our broader efforts to enhance transfer pathways—and reduce barriers faced by transfer students—ONCAT staff routinely perform policy analysis and research. Often, this work includes scans of policies or other innovations in jurisdictions with differentially structured transfer systems. This work informs various activities, ranging from the funding of pilots to the advice that we provide to system stakeholders and other strategic initiatives. This page houses policy reports and shorter articles written by either ONCAT staff or externally funded actors that we deem of potential interest to the broader Ontario postsecondary education (PSE) sector.

Prior Learning Assessment in Ontario: an Online Scan of PLAR information for Ontario's 24 Publicly Funded Colleges

by Rod Missaghian | January 2022

This data was collected by the research team at ONCAT. The goal of the project was to provide a sector-wide view of available online PLAR information found within Ontario’s publicly funded colleges.

This scan was conducted in the summer of 2021, with updates made as recently as November 2021. Please be aware that the data found on this page may not be representative of all institutional processes for PLAR, only what the researcher was able to find through a comprehensive online scan. This information is not meant to replace direct information which can be gained through contacting your post-secondary institution directly.

The categories chosen for each institution’s PLAR webpage scan are not an exhaustive list of important information available for PLAR applicants on institutional websites, but a selection of categories which have been identified in past research (see Harrison, 2018; Wihak, 2007). In most cases, applicable information for each category was cut and pasted from the institutions webpages. Some liberties were taken when descriptions were too long, or needed to be shortened, or reformatted. Ultimately, the information contained below is verbatim taken from institutional webpages, policy documents or transfer guides (when web page information was not available).

Fair, Consistent, and Transparent: A Short Guide on Assessing Transfer Credits in Ontario

by ONCAT | August 2021

In a well-functioning transfer environment, students who transfer should not face barriers. For most postsecondary students in Ontario, however, there are significant challenges related to transfer. Transfer students may spend more time than direct-entry students completing their studies, and a significant number of these students do not graduate (Walters, Brown, Perekh, Reynolds, and Einmann, 2021). Faculty and academic departments play a vital role in this process when they assess transfer credit and make determinations about course equivalencies between two or more postsecondary institutions. And yet, despite this important role, many faculty members have shared that they do not receive guidance on how to make these decisions (Missaghian, 2021).

In response, ONCAT consulted transfer advisors, faculty members, and other key personnel to create guidelines for assessing credit. This resource provides a starting point for faculty members, department chairs, and others who wish to ensure that their decision-making process is fair, consistent, and transparent. We provide common elements to consider that can be adapted to fit the needs of a particular department or discipline. The guide includes principles of credit assessment, guidelines for making credit-assessment decisions, and other information relevant to this important process.

Exploring University Faculty Perceptions on Curriculum Evaluation: Sociology as a Case of First-Year Transferability

by Rod Missaghian, ONCAT | July 2021

Studying faculty perceptions about curriculum evaluation and transfer can be tremendously useful for policy development, as it has long been a ‘black box’ (Hyatt & Smith, 2020). At a provincial level, by exploring faculty decision-making, we can learn more about potential pathways and barriers for college-to-university transfer. Understanding disciplinary norms in faculty decision-making is an important but understudied face of transfer research. By focusing on a single discipline, we can develop our understanding of the transferability of a high-demand course/elective, like sociology, offered in many college programs. More importantly, we hope this framework is replicable to other fields of study, allowing transfer stakeholders to assess comparability and alignment in course content with faculty perceptions.

In this brief, we address these gaps in faculty/transfer studies by interviewing Ontario university faculty in sociology to explore disciplinary evaluation processes and their potential relationships with transfer. We complement faculty interviews with content analysis of college and university introductory course outlines. This unique design aids in our understanding of faculty decision making in curriculum assessment, the intersection between content creation in practice versus perception, and its implications for vertical transfer.


Is There a Transferable Sociology ‘Core’ in Ontario Colleges? A Content Analysis of First-Year Course Outlines


by Rod Missaghian, ONCAT | January 2021

Regardless of how a transfer system operates, it is fair to conclude that curriculum assessment—the process through which faculty members evaluate and contrast course outlines—plays a key role. ONCAT is interested in learning more about how faculty make decisions on transfer credit and how that evaluative process plays out. To develop a better understanding of faculty’s role in transfer, in the summer of 2020, the research team at ONCAT decided to explore the curriculum assessment process. Our overarching goal here is to develop insights that could inform upcoming ONCAT-funded interview- and survey-based research projects focused on faculty members’ role in transfer.

For this exploratory exercise, we chose first-year introduction to sociology college courses offered in Ontario and taught as part of General Arts and Science diploma/certificate programs.

Policy Innovations in Transfer: A Look across the United States

by Rod Missaghian, ONCAT | August 2020

Policy Innovations in Transfer: A Look across the United States
Acknowledging the extensive and varied American experiences with transfer, ONCAT recently performed a scan of statewide transfer policy innovations across the U.S. We conducted a comprehensive review of scholarly and policy-oriented articles and reports while focusing on statewide guaranteed transfer of Associate's degrees, statewide reverse transfer, common lower-division courses, and common course numbering. Our goal was to identify useful practices that merit consideration for Ontario. Rather than attempt to push the sector in any direction, we hope to kick-start fruitful conversations about potential strategies to improve the Ontario transfer system.