Institutional Governance: Stories from the B.C. Post-secondary Sector

This chapter shares how some B.C. institutions have wrestled with existing and new policies in order to define and support micro-credentials within their unique context.

Chapter Audience:

  • administrator icon Administrators

KPU’s Development of a New Micro-credential Policy

David Burns is associate vice president academic at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU). He took up the position in October 2021. Prior to this role, he served as vice chair of KPU’s senate where he was involved in the development of governance processes that resulted in KPU’s academic policy AC15 and academic procedure AC15, both specific to the proposal, approval, and implementation of micro-credentials. Below, he provides insights into the collaborative process behind the development of these policies and their impact on the institution.

Note: The perspective of his former colleague, Rajiv Jhangiani, who was associate vice president teaching and learning during the policy development phase, is captured in a podcast that can be accessed through the Suggested Resources section.


What motivated the development of a micro-credential policy at KPU?

“There’s no denying that conversations about micro-credentials were in the air. To translate that buzz into action, we had strong champions. Our president, Alan Davis, had been thinking about things like alternative credentials for some time. He was working closely with our associate vice president for teaching and learning, Rajiv Jhangiani, on ways that KPU could do that. When you have two people at that level who are focused on moving something forward, that’s really important.

“I would say that there is another component to this. One of the things I like about working at KPU is that it’s big enough to do big things, and yet small enough to try new things. There was, as a result, a natural appetite for trying this new approach to the recognition of achievement. My colleagues took the attitude that ‘if we’re going to look into this, let’s invest substantially and devote our attention to developing it well.’ One of the things that we wanted to do was to make micro-credentials permanent. We didn’t want this to be a short-term quick project. We wanted this to be an enduring change in how we do things. To do that, you need formal policy.”

KPU defined micro-credentials as distinct from short-duration completion-based learning. Explain what drove the creation of these two distinct types of programs.

“In developing a policy governing micro-credentials, we wanted to first define what they are. In particular, we wanted to differentiate micro-credentials from short duration completion-based learning.

“Continuing & professional studies (CPS) often responds to external opportunities that have short timelines. For their audience, there is often no need for formal assessment and limited value to associating credits to the program. What matters most is the ability to be responsive and act quickly. The micro-credential policy clearly identifies that these types of programs are not micro-credentials. It also describes an expedited approval process for these programs since the ability to move forward quickly is essential. These programs are approved by a small committee composed of appointed members. This speeds things up. But, that’s also the limitation of this approach. Since they are not senate-approved, these programs are vulnerable to the critique that, say, ‘a particular individual wanted to do this.’ There is less shared ownership of these programs. Also, they are less stable. By definition, if something can be created tomorrow, it can be discontinued the day after.

“We envisioned micro-credentials as being built to last. For this to happen, more people need the opportunity to participate in the decision to offer them and have their say. Micro-credentials are approved by senate. As a result, the process of approving a new micro-credential takes more time, but once approved, it is more enduring.
Micro-credentials are defined in the policy as arising from short duration experiences where the learners are formally assessed. They can be either credit-bearing or non-credit bearing and are approved by senate.

“You can see that we created two types of approaches to meet two different needs of the institution. One is important to allow us to experiment or respond quickly to external opportunities, but these programs are often ephemeral. Then we have micro-credentials that can be similar in scope, but include assessments, and once approved enjoy the full democratic support of the institution because we decided as a whole that we would offer them.”

“The micro-credential policy was approved in September 2021. In the year and a half since then, we’ve approved several short duration completion-based offerings. We are working on launching the first formal senate-approved micro-credentials right now. This gives you a sense of the difference between the two types of programs.”

What are some considerations in developing a micro-credential policy?

“Policy is a complex system. It’s not like a strategic plan where you’re trying to articulate compelling values that can capture collective ideals and inspire people. Policies are structural, and in the end, mechanical. They are like gears. They are almost mathematical in their construction. So, at a certain point, a new policy begins with somebody sitting down and drafting a first version of the policy. You’ve got to just put some ideas down on paper and see if it’s going to work. A small group of us worked on these initial drafts.

“For micro-credentials, the way that you imagine them is unusually important. For other policies like academic appeals, there are all sorts of fixed concepts that you can draw from in creating the policy. You can criticize them, and you can say ‘we should do it differently,’ but there is a starting point. With micro-credentials, there wasn’t. It’s explicitly designed as ‘not normal credentials.’ It was harder than usual to discuss them in the abstract because we didn’t have a precise definition.

“In fact, on the issue of terminology, we debated from the first day to the last day of that process what the words mean. In the discourse of micro-credentials, some of the language is analytic and descriptive, and some is aspirational. The aspirational language does not work in policy. It just doesn’t. Aspirational often means things that don’t exist, or concepts with disputed meanings, and policy needs to refer to at least tentatively concrete concepts.

“One of the big challenges of micro-credential policy was that the second-order effects were not known. If micro-credentials are approved by senate, then micro-credentials plug into the set of existing policies that the senate oversees. How are they going to connect to other things in the system? It’s like plugging a new part into a car that’s never been put in a car before. How does it plug into the alternator? What kind of power draw is it going to cause?

“We had to map that out. We had to go through a lot of ‘if A, then B’ scenarios. ‘If we do this, what will that enable people to do when it plugs into everything else in the system?’ If a micro-credential policy is approved by the senate, how does it connect to other policies governed by the senate? Do the senate’s appeal rules or our other credential rules apply?

“In many cases, you didn’t want that because micro-credentials are not supposed to be just shorter versions of things that we’ve done before. They are supposed to be a categorically different thing. So, a lot of the policy drafting process was spent mapping out these implications. You consider things like, ‘Is it transcripted? No. If it’s not transcripted, where is it recorded? How is that record kept and what regulates it?’ You have to run the logic through. It’s a pretty intricate process.”

How was the community consulted during the development of the policy?

“Writing a draft got the ideas on the floor. Next, we consulted the community through the governance process (i.e., senate discussions).

“This allowed us to have the conversation in public, not behind closed doors. The transparency was important. You can imagine how people come to the discussion with different lenses. One person might be interested in micro-credentials for the opportunity to innovate and question learning and teaching on a deep level. Another person might be interested in the strategic opportunities for the university. Another might be looking for ways to operationalize this and focus on the policy component. These people come to different conclusions about the policy. Allowing everyone in the community to hear their perspectives and explanations about how different components of the policy would work, or not work, is important. It contributes to a shared understanding about how the policy evolved and why certain elements are included.

“Going to governance also forces you to think about how this is going to impact different groups of people that you don’t necessarily encounter every day, because they’re going to vote on the policy. You have to consider what’s going to happen when we go to the senate with this policy; how will representatives from this faculty or that faculty respond? You have to really think that through. That’s the beauty of democratic governance. It forces people, like me, to try to understand more about the lives of the people impacted by the decisions that I am proposing that we make.

“Micro-credentials are new. They bring up all kinds of fundamental educational philosophical questions, as well as operational questions, about how to roll them out. Inevitably, people in different corners of the university will say that we should have done it in a different way. But going fully and properly through the senate on the policy, and then on the approval of the micro-credentials, means that we own the decision together. That’s ours. Whether you like it or not, we had the process move through, we voted, this is what we decided. If you put something through the senate, then collectively we own that decision. The process gives legitimacy to policy. This is incredibly important in a university environment.”

Top Tips from KPU’s Experience

  1. Take your time with the structure, so that you can go fast when it’s done. Invest the time and effort to thoughtfully craft policies and procedures for creating and implementing micro-credentials at your institution. It took KPU over a year to hash out theirs. By going more slowly at this stage, you’ll be able to accelerate the implementation process.
  2. Balance innovation and system coherence. An institutional policy and procedures framework is like an ecosystem, where introducing a new element can result in significant changes, some of which may be beneficial if you anticipate them and their impacts. They can also be dangerous because they could result in something important inadvertently being replaced or by causing confusion in another area of your institution. The existing credential system works well because it’s been in place for a long time and countless mistakes have informed its growth and evolution. As you work to add new components to it, adopt a systems-thinking mindset and balance the desire for innovation with the need to maintain the health of a complex system.
  3. Governance and broad consultation are indispensable. Micro-credentials represent a significant shift in how we think about credentials, and that touches everyone’s work. A credential is a fundamental unit of interaction between faculty and departments in the post-secondary system. Changing something so important will generate differences of opinion about how to move forward. People need to feel that they have a say in the process.
  4. Formalize the process into policy. Transform the support of champions into formal structures that will outlast them. Leaders come and go, but the initiatives should outlast them. Formalizing the process into policy also distributes leadership. At KPU, several of the people who were instrumental in moving the policy forward have moved on to other roles. Yet the policy is still in place and others have picked up the mantle of moving it forward.

UBCO’s Development of a New Micro-credential Policy

Michelle Lamberson is director of flexible learning special projects in the office of the provost and vice president, academic at the University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus (UBCO). She provides strategic support to innovative teaching, learning, and curriculum initiatives. She was involved in the development of UBCO’s policy governing micro-credentials, and is currently overseeing support structures for the development of the institution’s new micro-credentials.


Tell us about UBCO’s micro-credential policy.

“UBCO doesn’t have a micro-credential policy, per se. In 2016, working with colleagues across the campus, we began a conversation around how to recognize a broader set of student achievements. How do we recognize learning and how do we document it? What’s the evidence? The goal was to help learners understand what they’ve learned. Out of those year-long conversations came a set of policies that govern non-degree offerings.

“On the credit side, the conversations centered around scoping out the traditional levels. Which non-degree credentials were needed at the undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, graduate, and post-graduate levels?

“It will be interesting to see how the micro-credential ecosystem evolves as we go forward and where each institutions chooses to focus its offerings. For us, the focus to date for our externally offered micro-credentials has been at the post-baccalaureate level.”

“On the non-credit side, our discussions led us to an understanding that there were also different achievement levels. We captured those in our non-credit credential framework. In this credential framework, there are four levels of achievement.

“The first level is attendance – we know (we can verify) you were there. We call that a ‘letter of attendance.’

“The next layer is completion – we know you were there, and we know you completed all of the tasks that were put before you. We are not saying anything about the level at which you did them, but you did them. There can be some rigour around that – for example, perhaps you had to do reflections on your learning. However, there isn’t a defined standard – grade levels, percentages, etc. – against which that completion is measured. We call that a ‘letter of completion.’

“Then there is the next level – we know you were there, we know you completed all of the tasks, and you did so to a particular, defined standard (e.g., a competency rubric). This is a ‘letter of proficiency.’

“All the above are programs that are shorter than 150 hours. The authority to approve and discontinue them is delegated from the senate to the faculties or colleges that wish to offer them.

“Finally, there is a non-credit certificate. It is for programs that are longer than 150 hours of learning. The credential verifies that the learner was there and that they completed all the required tasks to a defined standard. It can be composed of one or more of the aforementioned credentials (i.e., a stacked credential), but it must have a coherent set of learning outcomes for the certificate as a whole. For this larger credential, the senate must approve the program.

Policy O-129: Non-Credit Credentials describes our framework for non-credit offerings. The letter of proficiency and the non-credit certificates are the two credentials that map onto the B.C. framework as micro-credentials, given the importance of robust assessment in the micro-credential framework.

What brought about the need for a policy at UBCO?

“It’s hard to pin down exactly what caused the conversation to begin. It’s a culmination of a decade-long conversation around teaching and learning innovation, and the changes they brought to how we view learning and learning recognition. The development of the internet opened flexible ways to access knowledge. Suddenly you could have a museum’s archives online and could access that knowledge whenever it was convenient for you to do so.

“A good example of how this played out locally is in Makerspace UBCO. If you want to use the makerspace (a space with 3D printers and other such equipment), we need to ensure you can operate safely. Once you earn that badge and we feel you understand safety in that space, you can choose which equipment you want to become proficient at using. Once you learn and earn the badge for one, or more, equipment, you may decide to facilitate others’ learning with some leadership training. We can also recognize that with a badge.

“And I think there were also outside providers like LinkedIn Learning that started to offer digital badges to recognize learning. Learners could own that learning recognition, share it publicly, or choose who to share it with. That popularized the concept of learner-owned credentials, modularized learning recognition, and it became part of the culture of what people expected when they learn something new.

“You can see how there were these conversations about flexibility, about customizing a learner’s journey, about recognizing learning along the way. It was changing how we view learning and education. Some of our faculty wanted to leverage those opportunities and innovate in their classroom. I think it was an idea whose time had come and people wanted to use it. To make that happen, we needed to define some credential entities and the process governing them. We needed to clarify it and provide structure to it in order to support it. We needed policy.

How was the policy developed?

“The need for policy brought the conversation to the senate, specifically as part of the senate curriculum committee. As it should – if it was just a group of people working on this in the provost’s office, you wouldn’t get the types of institution-wide conversations that were needed.

“The challenge with embedding this as part of the senate curriculum committee is that the committee oversees a large portfolio and we couldn’t have the sorts of conversations and work that needed to happen. The curriculum committee wisely chartered a working group. This group was small and nimble and could move things ahead quickly. It included members of the curriculum senate committee who were interested, but it also invited the contribution of people who could bring something to the conversation who were not members of the senate, like me, from the provost’s office.

“We began by doing an environmental scan of peer and leading institutions. What were they doing in this space? What were the exemplars? How were they defining things? The interesting thing about micro-credentials is that it is a fast-evolving field so many of the definitions are still fluid. We had to define these terms for ourselves. For example, we had a conversation about the distinction between a badge and a micro-credential. We ended up clarifying for ourselves that a badge is not a credential; rather, it’s the thing that holds the credential. As part of this stage, we also discussed how these types of new credentials would fit within our mission and strategic plan.

“We developed a policy – and the work continues! In our credential framework, we recognize learning achievements at different assessment levels. We also want to be able to communicate robust information about the program. Currently, we are working on how to encapsulate that in the metadata of the digital badges that are awarded at each level. The key fields of that metadata are captured from the requirements defined in the policy, and the information we collect in the approval process. We are now creating templates to ensure some information about the learner’s learning was captured for all non-credit credentials issued at UBCO.

“It’s important when you form that working group to include different voices. Don’t just put people who all share the same vision. Put people on that group who will question everything. The resulting policy will be stronger for it. We did that and what was interesting is that by the time the proposed policy came for an approval vote by the senate, it was surprisingly smooth. I believe we had brought everyone along on the journey, so there were no surprises by the time it came to the senate.

“It took us about a year to develop two policies: first the non-degree (but credit-bearing) credential credit policy and then the non-credit credential policy. The policy was approved in 2018. Our policies are reviewed every five years, so it will soon be time to revisit it.”

What’s the relationship between UBCO and UBCV’s non-credit credential policies?

“Our two campuses have independent senates. It’s interesting, how that can spur innovation. UBCO started by building upon existing policy frameworks at UBCV and elsewhere. The existing polices did not specifically differentiate credit and non-credit. Moreover, our non-credit activities were just beginning. We were able to start from scratch in many ways.

“What is exciting is that UBCV is now developing their policy and they are able to build upon ours. Since ours was written five years ago, I anticipate that we will see innovations in their policy that we’ll wish to consider when we re-evaluate our own.”

Top Tips from UBCO’s Experience

  1. Form a nimble group embedded in governance. Use the institution’s existing governance processes, usually the senate or faculty council, to ensure that it includes the voices of every academic unit and is embedded in the institution’s policies and procedures. One thing that is critical is to designate a small group that will have the resources to research information and engage in deep conversations. Wrestling with these ideas takes time. Depending on your structure, you may need to create a working group that has the resources and space to do this work. Be sure to invite as many voices as possible to strengthen the policy.
  2. Start with an environmental scan. Look at what peer institutions are doing and also at what leading institutions are doing. Then map that onto your own institution’s existing educational offerings, its mission, and strategic plans. Also consider where your institution’s micro-credentials will be focused. For UBCO, because of the institution’s missions, existing programs, and strengths, it is in the non-credit, post-baccalaureate space.
  3. Build flexibility into your process. Micro-credentials are new, and you likely won’t get it perfectly right on your first iteration. It’s a change process, not a widget. Consider building a program approval and change approval process that’s flexible enough to make adjustments easily. Consider also that micro-credentials are not like degrees, in that they may be ephemeral. The skills that industry needs may change rapidly, and your micro-credential will need to change to reflect that.
  4. Keep everyone informed. As the small working group is researching and discussing policy, be sure to share what’s being learned with the community. Make sure members of the senate know what’s going on and keep the provost in the loop. This is the best way to overcome obstacles and prevent unexpected surprises. It’s a community conversation.
  5. Focus on the learner journey. There is a change in our society where people expect greater flexibility to customize their learning. They also want their abilities to be recognized on a finer level, and they want the ability to own the recognition of their learning. Embrace that. Use that as a starting point in all conversations. We want to create the best transformative education for our students so that they can explain what they have learned.

UFV’s Development of a New Micro-credential Policy

Carolyn MacLaren is director of continuing education at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV). She was part of a working group that developed UFV’s policy governing micro-credentials. This policy is currently moving towards senate review and upon approval will guide the development of micro-credentials at UFV.


Why did UFV develop a micro-credential policy?

“At UFV, there are really two fundamental types of offerings that are governed differently: those that bear credits and those that do not. Arguably, the existing policies, procedures, and systems that govern non-credit offerings could have been used for micro-credentials. However, that would have limited micro-credentials to non-credit offerings. There was a desire to offer credit-bearing, as well as non-credit micro-credentials, and to do that, we needed to examine our senate-approved policies and develop new ones. Specifically, we needed to find a way to expedite the new program approval process compared to the one used for larger academic ones.”

How did UFV develop a micro-credential policy?

“The university formed a small working group to work on this. It included faculty from different areas, as well as me from continuing education, representatives from the registrar’s office, members of our academic program planning and quality assurance unit, and people from the provost’s office. Having such a diversity of representatives on this group was critical. It laid bare the differences in perspectives of different units at the institution in some of the key concepts affecting micro-credentials. It was very helpful to have those conversations. It also made sure that micro-credentials belonged to everyone at our institution: micro-credentials wouldn’t be exclusively owned by academics or continuing studies, for example.”

What was the most challenging aspect of creating this policy?

“One of the things we spent a lot of time on was definitions. What is a credit versus a non-credit offering? What is a micro-credential? How is a micro-credential different from a digital badge? We researched other institutions and talked it through. These discussions, while at time arduous, were important as they showed the wide range of perspectives and understanding of micro-credentials and illuminated what we needed to work on.

“We developed our own definition of micro-credential. At UFV, a micro-credential is a program of skill-based learning of limited scope and duration represented by a verifiable, portable, shareable badge upon completion. There are items in this definition that need to be refined, like what we do mean by ‘limited duration?’ Is it four hours or forty? But it’s a good start. We developed this before the Micro-credential Framework for B.C. Public Post-secondary Education System (2021) came out, but you can see how it aligns with it.

“We concluded that a digital badge is an indicator of accomplishment, an attestation, a verification. It’s information. It’s not exclusive to micro-credentials. It’s an alternative to a transcript. If you think about it, a transcript is not a credential. It’s just the record of it. While we were developing our policy, we also piloted digital badging in continuing education with an eye on how digital badges might be rolled out across the university in some capacity.”

What was the outcome of your policy development work?

“The conversation and policy development took six to eight months to complete. It created some rigour around what a micro-credential is at UFV. We also ended up proposing an expedited process for the review and approval of new micro-credentials. It’s essentially like the process that the credit offerings go through, but it’s faster. And it applies for both credit-bearing, and non-credit bearing offerings – anything we want to call a micro-credential.”

Top Tips from UFV’s Experience

  1. Make it a collaborative effort. Assign a working group to work on the policy and bring together different voices from across the institution. This will make visible the differences in perspectives on how micro-credentials are conceptualized, aspirations for their use, and the operational implications of the choices made. At UFV, the robust discussions helped to come to a common understanding about what a micro-credential is. It was also a critical element ensuring that the entire institution, rather than just one area, “owns” micro-credentials.
  2. Develop specific definitions. UFV spent a lot of time on defining key concepts. It’s important to do because many of the concepts do not have an agreed upon definition. It’s also important to come to a shared understanding of these fundamental concept at the outset because this will affect every aspect of the program down the line. Some of the important definitions to consider that are inherent in a micro-credential are “competencies” and “short duration.”

CapU’s Use of Existing Policies to Approve Micro-credentials

Aurelea Mahood is director of academic initiatives and planning at Capilano University (CapU). She oversees the development of all new academic programs, and ensures that appropriate quality assurance processes are in place to guide the periodic review of all senate-approved academic programs of study. She jointly led an institution-wide working group that examined the purpose and place of micro-credentials at her institution. She recounts her experience below.


What was Capilano University’s response to the rise in interest in micro-credentials?

“There was quite a buzz about micro-credentials in the sector. Our provost foresaw the need to define what micro-credentials would be at our institution. This was before the ministry released the Micro-credential Framework for B.C. Public Post-secondary Education System (2021).

“We formed a working group co-led by me and the director of continuing studies. To form a team, we put out a call for interest to the whole institution and those interested applied. The co-chairs selected the team to ensure representation across the institution. The group was ultimately made up of representatives from each academic faculty, as well as areas impacted by micro-credentials such as the career and development centre, and student representatives.

“Together we surveyed how different departments, faculties, and schools at Capilano University were already using micro-credentials in their academic programs. We discovered that this varied a lot by area, with some integrating industry micro-credentials in their academic courses and others never having worked with micro-credentials. We also discovered that students had remarkable knowledge and interest in micro-credentials. They described the micro-credentials they had obtained outside of the institution (e.g., lifeguarding certifications) and explained how it was useful in finding part-time jobs.

“We also gauged the interest of the institution in using micro-credentials going forward. Academic departments were interested in exploring how micro-credentials can be leveraged to signal specific skills acquired within degree program and/or supplementary to a student’s primary field of study. They wanted to give our learners the language to articulate specific skills, knowledge, and attitudes they have acquired as a result of their education. Departments also wanted to explore how micro-credentials could bring new learners to the university, and deepen relationships with local community partners (e.g., businesses, municipalities, non-profits, culture sector, etc.).

“We explored this together for a year, researching information in our areas and bringing it back to the group, and exploring what was being done beyond our walls. We captured our findings in a report that was submitted to the provost. The report was also shared with governance groups like the senate. We envisioned that another group would be convened to operationalize some of our working group’s recommendations.”

Was policy created or modified as a result of this working group?

“During the year that the working group was doing its exploration, the ministry came out with the Micro-credential Framework for B.C. Public Post-secondary Education System (2021) and with several calls for micro-credential funding. Those two things redirected our efforts.

“Some groups within the institution applied and obtained funding. As a result, the institution had to rapidly assess whether we had a system in place to review and approve these programs. Because the working group was already formed, we could rapidly pivot our efforts to explore this. It turned out that we already had existing policies and procedures in place that could be used to guide how we would handle new micro-credential proposals.

“Non-credit courses at Capilano University are defined by Policy B.108. There are distinct review and approval processes in place for non-credit courses and programs at the institution, and these would apply to non-credit bearing micro-credentials.

“When the Micro-credential Framework for B.C. Public Post-secondary Education System (2021) came out and defined micro-credentials as training that is less than 288 hours, that was helpful to us. Drawing from Policy S2020-01 Academic Credentials, it meant that credit-bearing micro-credentials could fit within our existing credential framework as a citation or certificate. From there, the normal course proposal, review, and approval process could apply.

“Typically, new program development is preceded by a senate-approved concept paper. Senate approval greenlights program development, including the allocation of resources and administrative support. If an academic unit is interested in developing a non-laddering citation or certificate (non-laddering meaning that the credential cannot be used to pursue a larger diploma or degree), then the concept paper step can be bypassed as long as the dean approves it. So micro-credentials could bypass the concept paper phase, which is important in moving rapidly to offer a new non-degree program, but the downside is that this could only apply for non-laddering micro-credentials. Laddering micro-credentials could not use this shortcut and would need to build in the time to put out a concept paper before the program is proposed.

“From there, the normal non-degree program development review and approval process apply. A proposal must first be approved within each department or school, then by the faculty council, then the senate curriculum committee, then the senate, and ultimately the board (for programs only). The whole thing, if successful at every stage, takes approximately four to six months to complete.”

Are the policies and procedures working?

“It’s too soon to tell. We are in the process of reviewing for approval our first non-laddering, credit-bearing, micro-credential in direct collaboration with an industry partner…”

Top Tips from Capilano University’s Experience

  1. Examine existing policies and procedures. Begin your work by examining your institution’s credential framework and the policies and procedures guiding them. Evaluate whether these could be used to review and approve micro-credentials.
  2. Find ways to operate flexibly without sacrificing rigour. New micro-credential programs sometimes need to be reviewed and approved quickly. Are there steps in your program development procedures that might be expedited for micro-credentials without affecting the rigour of the review? Would doing this require the development of revised steps for micro-credential approval or can existing processes be leveraged?
  3. Focus on learner benefit. As conversations happen across campus on this new type of credential, keep an eye on the learner. This is why we are exploring these opportunities.

VCC’s Use of Existing Policies to Approve Micro-credentials

Adrian Lipsett is dean of continuing studies at Vancouver Community College (VCC). He shares his team’s experience in rapidly putting together a micro-credential called the Award of Achievement in Production for Animation and VFX.


How did your micro-credential fit within your existing credential framework?

“VCC does not have a dedicated micro-credential policy. We took a look at our existing Policy C.1.3: Granting of Credentials, which contains our credential framework. We mapped micro-credentials, as defined in the Micro-credential Framework for B.C. Public Post-secondary Education System (2021), to an existing VCC non-credit offering called an Award of Achievement. In the end, we did not need to change or create new policy. We used what already existed.”

How did you get this new program approved under tight timelines?

“We put the new program in as a non-credit offering. The review and approval process are faster than for credit offerings. That way, we could use existing governance processes in the time required. We figured that we can always transform it into a credit offering later if we determined that this is a goal. At that time, we would re-apply for approval through the credit-bearing governance process.

“In a way, we used the nimble non-credit governance processes to work quickly and pilot this new program. It is not going to be perfect the first time through. Through the pilot offering, we will make this training as strong as possible and continue to improve it from what we learn. There’s an iterative mindset to this program: We used it as an experiment.”

Suggested Resources

Background on KPU’s Micro-credential Policy

Rajiv Jhangiani, then associate vice president of teaching and learning at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU), was interviewed as part of BCcampus’s Lunchable Learning series. Recorded on April 25, 2022 soon after the approval of KPU’s Policy AC15 Micro-credentials and Procedure AC14, this 30-minute podcast provides background on the institution’s development of a micro-credential-specific policy and procedure.

Prins, H., McKerlich, R. (2022, April 25). Interview with Rajiv Jhangiani [podcast]. Lunchable Learning.


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