CSU Policy: Transfer Agreements with Partner Institutions in China

Policy Title: Transfer Agreements with Partner Institutions in China Category: Academic Affairs/Faculty
Owner: Provost/Executive Vice President Policy ID#: 1-1001-011
Provost/Executive Vice President
Web: http://provost.colostate.edu/
Phone: (970) 491-6614
Original Effective Date: 12/17/2010
Last Major Revision: 11/13/2015
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Colorado State University utilizes a course-by-course transfer equivalency evaluation process for evaluating courses, but this traditional process has not worked well when applied to students transferring from Chinese institutions of higher education, because of differences in educational systems, course organization, and timing of course completion. Therefore, a new policy and process for evaluating course transfers between Chinese Partner Institutions and CSU is required.


This policy applies to students transferring course credits from an institution of higher education in China that is a formal Partner Institution to CSU.



There are three (3) areas that need to be addressed to make transfers to CSU after the completion of two years at a Partner University in China successful:
(1) The calculation of the overall credit toward graduation that CSU will transcript based on courses completed by students during two years of full-time study in China;
(2) Identifying the contribution of courses taken at Partner Institutions toward the completion of the first three (3) categories in CSU’s All University Core Curriculum (AUCC);
(3) Identifying the contribution of courses taken at Partner Institutions toward the completion of the requirements of different majors. 
The intended effect of this Policy is therefore to create a new course transfer evaluation process that more accurately and fairly determines equivalencies for these transfer students and meets the needs of both CSU and the Partner Institution.


CSU’s traditional practice for evaluating transfer credits involves:

(1) Identifying specific course equivalents (courses that meet two criteria: they cover equivalent content and they earn comparable numbers of credit); and
(2) Building up from each course equivalent identified to evaluate:
  1. The student's overall standing in terms of the total credits earned toward the minimum required for graduation
  2. How many of the AUCC requirements have been completed in categories 1-3
  3. How many required courses in the major have been completed

Colorado State University has concluded that this traditional course-by-course transfer evaluation process does not work well when evaluating courses from Partner Institutions in China. There are two essential problems:

  1. Course credit equivalencies do not work well at the level of individual courses. Differences in the educational systems in China and the United States result in transfer conversion ratios that make it very unlikely that individual courses taken at partner institutions will be evaluated as equivalent in course credits to individual CSU courses.
  2. The course material is frequently organized differently. Consequently, comparable material is often distributed across different groups of courses. These differences make it difficult to use a course-by-course evaluation to identify the successful completion of prerequisite courses.
These problems are accentuated by the mid-summer conclusion of the second semester in China, which results in students often arriving at CSU before information on all 4 semesters can be received and evaluated for transfer credit and placement.

The solution CSU proposes to offer to its partner institutions in China follows:

(1) We will continue to use the “2+2” term for convenience, but what determines a student’s progress toward graduation is the number of credits earned, not the years of study. Therefore, our goal is to assure that students have completed at least 60 credits that can be used toward the 120 credit minimum for a baccalaureate degree at CSU.
(2) CSU will analyze the overall educational experience created by the package of courses taken in China to identify progress toward graduation in each of the following three areas:
  1. total credits toward graduation
  2. completion of categories in the AUCC;
  3. meeting prerequisite courses in the major.
(3) CSU will minimize reliance on course-by-course equivalencies.
(4) CSU will use the evaluation of the courses presented by the initial cohorts of transfer students to identify for its partner institutions packages of courses that facilitate efficient degree completion.
On total credits toward graduation:
CSU will stipulate that one year of full-time coursework at a partner institution equals one full-time year at CSU. Since the average credit load at CSU is 30 credits an academic year, completing a typical full-time load for one academic year at a partner institution will result in 30 credits at CSU. Therefore, two years at partner institutions will generally earn 60 credits at CSU.
Since most majors at CSU require 120 credits as the minimum for graduation, transcripting 60 credits for the completion of two years of full-time study at a partner institution will place students one half of the way toward the 120 credits required for graduation. The principal exceptions to the 120 credit minimum are in engineering programs, which generally require between 126 and 137 credits. 
On completing the AUCC:
CSU’s Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs (VPUA) and the Registrar’s Office will evaluate how the total mix of courses taken at a partner institution fulfills the educational objectives of the AUCC. The emphasis will be on fulfilling the educational objectives of each category in the AUCC, not on specific credit or course requirements.
While identifying the specific categories that will be cleared must await evaluations of the curricula taken by students at partner institutions, we expect that these evaluations will make it possible to identify which categories can be effectively cleared by coursework at partner institutions and which categories can be more efficiently cleared by coursework at CSU. Our goal will be to clear as many of the requirements in categories 1-3 in the AUCC with coursework taken at partner institutions as possible (Category 4 requirements are met by upper-division courses required by the major). 
The intermediate and advanced writing requirements in categories 1&2 of the AUCC are likely to need to be fulfilled at CSU. The VPUA will seek to identify appropriate substitutions for any other unfilled AUCC requirements.
On requirements of the major:
The requirements for prerequisite courses in the major will be evaluated by analyzing the content covered in all the courses completed at partner institution. The goal will be to compare the content covered by a group (or package) of courses taken at partner institutions to the content covered by a group of CSU prerequisite courses.
We would expect that this evaluation of the total disciplinary content covered by courses at partner institutions in the major would lead to one of the following three (3) outcomes:
  1. All of the necessary content covered in CSU prerequisite courses taken by first and second year students at CSU has been covered in the group of disciplinary courses taken at partner institutions. Result: student on track to complete major as entering junior. CSU prerequisite courses will be transcripted with any necessary credit adjustments to bring total to 60. 
  2. The student from our partner institution is missing some content CSU entering juniors would have, but it is better for the student to move forward. Result: prerequisite courses for covered content will be transcripted with any necessary credit adjustments. Student will be advised of the content that appears to be missing and the CSU course(s) that would need to be taken if the student preferred to review some content in order to complete the material not yet covered. The choice to move forward or take additional course work that would include review material would be made by the student with advice from faculty at partner institutions and CSU faculty advisers
  3.  The student is missing some material that is needed before taking the next course in the sequence. CSU faculty and faculty at partner institutions will consult on the best method for covering the missing material.
CSU’s Request of Partner Institutions
To do this “package-of- courses to package-of-courses” evaluation, CSU will need to analyze both course descriptions and course syllabi (course syllabi will be necessary whenever CSU needs to do a detailed analysis of course content).   Translations of course descriptions and course syllabi provided by students have often arrived late; incomplete; and with mutually inconsistent content descriptions, titles, and numbers for what appear to be the same course.
Therefore, we request that our partner institutions provide:
  1. Institutionally sanctioned translations of course descriptions and syllabi;
  2. A unique course number and designated title for each course;
  3. Information on any curricular requirements the institutions have established for students’ first two years in different disciplinary areas. It would also be helpful if these descriptions of curricula included information on whether there is any flexibility in students’ course schedules. Information on how much latitude students have to choose courses would enable CSU to work with partner institutions to identify courses they offer that might better enable us to clear University or departmental curricular requirements before students arrive at CSU;
  4. A list of the students intending to transfer to CSU by mid-April in the year of their intended transfer. Either this list or the students’ application should include information on the courses they have completed in their first 3 terms and the courses in which they are enrolled during their 4th term. This information – in combination with the translated descriptions and syllabi requested above – will enable us to do a complete transfer evaluation before registration for classes starting in the fall semester.
As the information requested above is analyzed, CSU will provide updated spreadsheets to our partner institutions on the courses that have been evaluated and the requirements that have been met in this “package-of-courses to package-of-courses” transfer evaluation. Partner institutions would then need to send new translations of course descriptions and syllabi only when students transferring to CSU have taken previously unevaluated courses or when a partner institution indicates that the content of the courses has been changed in substantial ways. We would propose that we discuss specifying a mutually acceptable number of years after which the information on curricula and the translations of course descriptions and syllabi would be routinely refreshed.


Approved by: Anthony A. Frank, President, December 20, 2010


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