Accreditation and the role of post-secondary institutions
OVERVIEW OF ACCREDITATION
What is Accreditation?
Accreditation is the Credit Union Institute of Canada's (CUIC) new national program which recognizes employees for the learning that has taken place on the job. Accreditation is not a training program. Rather, it is a certification that ensures employees have mastered the skills, knowledge and behaviours required to meet industry-defined standards. How employees gain the required skills and knowledge depends on the individual credit union. Options include: Credit Union training programs, CUIC courses, Credit Union Central courses, on-the-job training and/or post-secondary courses.
Once the employee and their supervisor feel the employee is consistently working to the standards, the employee registers for Accreditation with CUIC. They then begin an extensive 3 part assessment to verify the standards are being met:
CURRENT STATUS OF THE ACCREDITATION PROGRAM
The previously mentioned assessment components will be tested along with the standards and supervisor training in a pilot of the accreditation program. The pilot will run from April 14 - June 26. It will involve 40-50 employees from approximately 10 credit unions based across the country. Feedback from the pilot will be incorporated into the accreditation program during the summer, with full national roll-out beginning September 1998.
ROLE OF POST-SECONDARY INSTITUTIONS
What Credit Unions are looking for from Post-Secondary Institutions:
Credit Unions from across Canada are asking post-secondary institutions to grant credits for the "credential" obtained by those employees completing CUIC's Accreditation Program. In British Columbia, commitment for 9 transfer credits has already been granted by British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and Kwantlen University College. Credits from other post--secondary institutions are pending.
Which course should be granted credits?
Since the accreditation program incorporates an extensive assessment of prior learning, no PLA is required from post-secondary institutions. However, each post-secondary institution will want to ensure that the standards set and measured by the industry match the learning outcomes of the institutions' courses in order to figure out which credits should be granted.
Post-secondary institutions who currently grant credits based on the number of hours in the classroom, should keep in mind that candidates have been working 8 hours a day using this knowledge for a minimum of one year. That time alone would cover more than the number of hours required for a particular course.
Benefits to Post-Secondary Education:
One of the key issues credit unions have been raising with regards to the accreditation program is "how many credits will it be worth at post-secondary institutions"? Continuous learning, and specifically higher education has become a very important issue for credit unions. Their employees need to continually learn in order to keep up with the demands of the increasingly sophisticated consumer. Consumers want knowledgeable and competent personnel to give them information and advice to ensure a stable financial future. Post-secondary education for credit union employees plays a major role in fulfilling this need.
Accreditation is the first of many opportunities for post- secondary institutions to form partnerships with the credit union industry. It's a "win-win" situation for both parties. The benefits to post-secondary institutions are:
Post-secondary institutions may feel there is a risk in granting credits for the accreditation program due to the "perceived" notion that this will somehow lower their standards. However, since these credits will be granted to people who are already successfully employed in the field, and working at a level suitable to all credit unions, there really is no risk.
Some post-secondary instructors may also feel that giving credits will take work away from them, since it means those students can bypass certain classes. In this instance, the opposite is true. Many of the students receiving the credits would never have considered returning to school. Granting credits will motivate them to take that step forward, thereby opening up a whole new market. In addition, partnership opportunities exist for post-secondary instructors to teach courses in-house at credits unions.
Costs of granting credits:
As mentioned previously, the evaluation
process for accreditation is in fact a prior learning assessment. No further
prior learning assessment is required by post-secondary institutions. Therefore,
we feel each individual wishing to receive credits for accreditation should
not be charged a prior learning assessment fee. The credit unions will
already be paying a fee for the accreditation program, and will not be
receptive to any additional fees from post-secondary institutions.
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