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Credential Assessment

Assessment of a person’s academic credentials is one of the most important steps in deciding whether he or she may be licensed in a profession. Academic credentials include degrees, diplomas, certificates and other formal types of qualifications.

Sometimes these assessments are done in-house by a regulatory body, sometimes by an outside agency, and sometimes by both. See the list below.

Of the 38 professions (in 35 separate regulatory bodies) that licensed people in 2011:

  • 35 require academic credential assessments, and 3 do not.
  • 9 conduct all assessments in-house and do not use an outside agency.
  • 26 use outside qualifications assessment agencies. Of these 26, 14 also conduct in-house assessments.

The Office of the Fairness Commissioner (OFC) monitors assessment agencies, but does not oversee them directly. It is the regulatory bodies’ responsibility to make sure their agencies do their work in a transparent, objective, impartial and fair way.

The OFC finds that:

  • Almost all regulatory bodies that do in-house assessments base them on current, accurate information. Also, 56 per cent have clear criteria to decide how credentials are assessed, and 44 percent do not.
  • All regulatory bodies provide orientation to members of their governing councils and to staff who make decisions. However, only 57 per cent provide training for them on how to conduct assessments.
  • Seventy-seven per cent of regulators using outside agencies say they have ways to ensure that the agencies do fair assessments. Twelve per cent say they take no such measures.

The following table lists professions and the assessment activities that a profession’s regulatory body and its qualifications assessment agencies perform.

Profession

Assessment Activities

Architects

The Canadian Architectural Certification Board assesses program equivalence.

Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists

The regulatory body assesses program equivalence.
The following organizations assess degree equivalence:

Chartered Accountants

The regulatory body assesses credentials.

Chiropodists

The regulatory body confirms that applicants have graduated from an approved program.

Chiropractors

Accredited chiropractic educational institutions (e.g., the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College) assess program equivalence.

Dental Hygienists

The regulatory body only assesses program equivalence of unapproved programs.
Typically, the National Dental Hygiene Certification Board assesses program equivalence.

Dental Surgeons

The National Dental Examining Board of Canada confirms qualifications, assesses prior learning, and verifies that the applicant has a 4-year degree in dentistry.

Dental Technologists

The International Credential Assessment Service of Canada assesses program equivalence.

Denturists

The following organizations assess degree equivalence to the George Brown College denturism program:

Dietitians

The regulatory body assesses program equivalence.
World Education Services assesses degree equivalence.

Early Childhood Educators

The regulatory body assesses program equivalence.
World Education Services assesses degree equivalence.

Engineering Technicians and Technologists

The regulatory body confirms that qualifications are equivalent and are issued by a recognized institution.

Engineers

The regulatory body determines program equivalence.

Foresters

The regulatory body assesses program equivalence.
The following organizations assess degree equivalence:

General Accountants

The regulatory body verifies that academic qualifications are recognized in applicants’ home jurisdictions.
The following organizations assess degree equivalence:

Geoscientists

The regulatory body assesses program equivalence.
World Education Services assesses degree equivalence.

Land Surveyors

The regulatory body uses consultants to assess program equivalence.
The following organizations assess degree equivalence:

Lawyers

The National Committee on Accreditation, of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, assesses program equivalence and makes all assessment decisions.

Management Accountants

The regulatory body confirms that academic credentials are listed in the International Handbook of Universities or the Oregon Office of Degree Authorization.
The following organizations assess degree equivalence:

Massage Therapists

The regulatory body confirms that the applicant has completed a program in massage therapy.

Medical Laboratory Technologists

Does not assess credentials.

Medical Radiation Technologists

The regulatory body assesses program equivalence.

Midwives

Does not assess credentials.

Nurses

World Education Services assesses degree equivalence.

Occupational Therapists

The regulatory body assesses program equivalence.
World Education Services assesses degree equivalence.

Opticians

The regulatory body assesses program equivalence.
World Education Services assesses degree equivalence.

Optometrists

The International Optometric Bridging Program  (University of Waterloo) assesses degree and program equivalence.

Paralegals

Does not assess credentials.

Pharmacists

The Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada assesses program equivalence for graduates from non-accredited programs.

Pharmacy Technicians

The Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada assesses program equivalence for graduates from non-accredited programs. 

Physicians and Surgeons

The regulatory body confirms that an academic credential is recognized by the World Health Organization directory of medical schools.
The Medical Council of Canada confirms that applicants hold a degree in medicine.

Physiotherapists

The Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators assesses program and degree equivalence.

Psychologists

The regulatory body assesses program equivalence.
The following organizations assess degree equivalence:

Respiratory Therapists

World Education Services assesses degree equivalence and authenticates degrees.

Social Workers

The following organizations assess degree and program equivalence, and confirm the authenticity of academic credentials:

Social Service Workers

The regulatory body assesses program equivalence.

Teachers

The regulatory body assesses program equivalence.

Veterinarians

The regulatory body determines whether a program is approved.

Definitions:

Confirming qualifications: checking against a list of programs and institutions to confirm that a specific program is recognized or accredited and acceptable

Determining/assessing degree equivalence: determining that an academic credential from an institution outside Ontario is equivalent to a post-secondary degree in Ontario

Determining/assessing program equivalence: determining that a program of study from an institution outside Ontario is equivalent (e.g., contains equivalent courses, learning outcomes, standards or competencies) to a program in Ontario

June 2012

What makes an academic credential assessment fair?

  • clear criteria for determining the equivalency of a program offered outside Ontario to one offered here
  • consistent application of assessment criteria for all applicants
  • use of current and accurate information about educational programs
  • trained assessors

In March 2009, the Office of the Fairness Commissioner published Study of Qualifications Assessment Agencies.

Exemplary Practices

The OFC gathers regulatory bodies' exemplary licensing practices so that they may learn from one another. Exemplary practices about credential assessment are listed below.

  1. Communicating educational requirements to applicants from non-accredited institutions

    This practice is of interest to regulators who want...

  2. Ensuring objectivity in assessment of academic credentials

    This practice may be useful to regulators who rely...

  3. Ensuring that qualifications assessment agencies monitor timelines and streamline processes

    This practice addresses challenges with the timeliness...

  4. Identifying training needs for assessors

    This practice helps streamline the training needs of...