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A Documentary Study for Arrangements for Credit Accumulation and Transfer in Higher Education



We were asked to

    'review and report upon the main features of the credit accumulation and transfer schemes which are used in higher education systems in a selection of other countries'


We were asked to refer in particular to

    'the major schemes in operation in the USA ...'

and, in the UK,

    'to the arrangements recently introduced on a national basis ...'

It was agreed that reference would also be made to Australia, and that the

    'other main point of reference [would] be continental Europe ...'

In addition to these major jurisdictions, it was agreed that 'attention would be paid' to the arrangements obtaining in Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the West Indies, Israel, China, Japan and the countries of South East Asia.


It was agreed that the study would be undertaken primarily by means of a search of the World-wide Web, supplemented, as necessary, by interviews, work in local libraries, enquiries of relevant local consulates, and visits, where necessary, to relevant national centres in the USA, the UK and Australia.


It was agreed that the Report on the study should comprise not more than 20 pages of text, plus a select bibliography, and copies of any documents considered to be 'essential reading', and that it should be delivered both in hard copy and in 'Word' format on a floppy disc.


We were asked to submit our Report by 29 February 2000. In the event, this proved not to be possible, but an Interim Report, focusing on the 'major jurisdictions', together with a Bibliography, was submitted on 31 March.

Conduct of the Study

The study focused, as envisaged, primarily on the World-Wide Web as a source of information. This proved, however, to be a much more time-consuming, labour-intensive and unproductive task than had been anticipated - which was the major factor contributing to the delay experienced in reporting. It was supplemented by the use of local libraries - and we are grateful to the libraries of Lingnan University and The University of Hong Kong in particular for the use of their facilities and the co-operation of their staff. We wrote to all of the consulates of countries represented in Hong Kong who were to be included in the study, but this also proved a less than rewarding avenue of research, with none able to supply the information we were seeking directly, many unable to reply within a reasonable time-frame, and some that did not respond at all. A minority were, however, able to refer us to appropriate web-sites, or other sources of information in their home countries.

We consulted the President of the Open University of Hong Kong (Professor S.W. Tam) about the University's long-established arrangements for credit accumulation and transfer in Hong Kong, and the Executive Director of the Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation (Miss Wong Wai Sum) about the situation in China, and its relevance to Hong Kong. We are most grateful to each of them for the time they gave us, and for the information they supplied: any errors in reporting, or interpreting, that information should, of course, however, be laid at our door, and not theirs.

We were also fortunate to be able to see a report on Credit Transfer among the Credit Unit Systems of UGC-funded Institutions [sc. in Hong Kong] prepared for the Heads of Universities Committee in Hong Kong (HUCOM) by their Task Force on Credit Transfer, in September 1997, and a Preliminary Report and Recommendations, dated November 1999, prepared for HUCOM by its Credit-Unit System Working Group. In view of the work which has been done in this area by HUCOM, we have not thought it necessary to report in any detail on the situation in Hong Kong, although we have drawn attention to features of the arrangements in other countries which appear to have - potentially at least - particular relevance to Hong Kong.

Structure of the Report

Our initial expectations - about how much information would be available (and where); about the countries in which interesting developments on CATS were taking place; and about the ease of access to news about them - proved to be not wholly accurate. As a result, we have thought it best to focus this Report on what we have called the 'major jurisdictions' - namely, Australia, Canada, Japan, Europe, New Zealand, the UK, and the US. In all of these places, arrangements for Credit Accumulation and/or Transfer are either long established and well-documented, or at an interesting stage of development (and well-documented), and hold out the promise of lessons from which Hong Kong might usefully learn. We are unable to report anything of note about Israel, South Africa, or the West Indies, each of which has remained comparatively impenetrable to our enquiries. The remaining countries surveyed are grouped in two sections titled 'Other Jurisdictions'. 'Europe' covers Ireland, Sweden and the Russian Federation, while 'South East Asia' deals with China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and the Asia-Pacific region.

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