12 Policy and Regulation of Micro-credentials
Ontario does not have a framework in place to regulate micro-credential programs. However, lessons can be drawn from formal structures in other jurisdictions such as New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, and Hong Kong where there are frameworks for integrating shorter credentials within the overall higher education framework. At this early stage of evolution, it would also be suitable to leverage insights from other existing frameworks such as the Ontario Qualifications Framework, as well as designing and implementing your own institutional policies for micro- credentialing.
The eCampusOntario Micro-credential Community of Practice is an excellent resource for connecting and sharing best practices with colleagues from across the education system.
Regulatory compliance and audit
- Consider the regulatory frameworks (both government authority and self-regulating) that apply to your institution as they relate to credentials (e.g., in Ontario, the Minister’s Binding Policy Directives and Operating Procedures).
- Consider the standards established for your institution type:
- Private career colleges
- Indigenous institutes
- The Ontario Qualifications Framework is applied across the sector and establishes the credentials covered under the regulatory regime.
- Non-credit-bearing continuing education and certificate program approval requirements may be determined by institutional policy.
- Consider professional organizations and regulatory agencies.
Aligning policy development with regulatory and governance frameworks
- Within the regulatory construct you operate, ensure that your quality policy is institutionally grounded in mission and values.
- Suggest a principles-based approach starting with the learner and stakeholder.
- Consider incorporating non-credentials framework items into the policy to ensure that governance goals are met.
- Consider any associated risks (e.g., reputational, audit).
- Emphasize consistent but relevant policy goals; as has been discussed, micro-credentials are different from Ontario Qualifications Framework credentials.
- Leverage pre-existing procedural assurance practices.
- Emphasize procedural assurance practices that focus on relevant risks and stakeholder benefits as they relate to your institution’s definition of micro-credential, its place within the institution, etc.
- Remember the stakeholder needs and drivers.
Policy options for alignment with Ontario Qualifications Framework (OQF)
The table below describes two very different approaches to positioning micro-credentials in the current OQF landscape.
Micro-credentials are maintained separate from the OQF credential offerings of the institution. No pathways, transfers, or equivalencies will be considered in policy or design of the programming.
Micro-credentials are conjoined with the OQF credentials offered and policy and procedures are in place to create, facilitate and monitor pathways, transfers, and/or equivalencies.
National framework examples
While Ontario does not yet have a formal structure or common practice, many jurisdictions, such as New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, and Hong Kong have frameworks for integration of shorter credentials within the overall higher education framework. A comprehensive overview of international frameworks has been published by the Government of Australia.
To better understand how credentials are recognized internationally, see the detailed explanation of the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) taxonomy of learning in Appendix A of Better 21C Credentials; Evaluating the promise, perils and disruptive potential of digital credentials (Oliver, 2016).
Establishing your own institutional framework
At some point, there will be a need for a policy framework at your Ontario institution. These resources may provide useful examples:
- Algonquin College (2021). Algonquin College Micro-credentials Framework. https://www.algonquincollege.com/microcredentials/framework/
- Deakin University (2022). Micro-credentials Policy. https://policy.deakin.edu.au/ view.current.php?id=00005
- Kwantlen Polytechnic University (2021a). Micro-credentials Policy. https://www.kpu.ca/sites/default/ files/Policies/AC15%20Micro-credentials%20Policy.pdf
- SUNY Empire State College (2020). Micro-credential Policy. https://www.esc.edu/ policies/?search=cid%3D127482
For an example with administrative forms and templates, triage processes see:
- Kwantlen Polytechnic University (2021b). Micro-credentials Procedure. https://www.kpu.ca/sites/ default/files/Policies/AC15%20Micro-credentials%20Procedure.pdf
For an example of collaboratively drafted campus policy framework for open badges see:
- Flintoff, K. S., Casilli, C., Gibson, D., Derryberry, A., Pempedijan, G., Bixler, B. & Harvey, F. (2014). A collaboratively drafted campus policy framework for open badges. Badge Alliance. https://www.academia.edu/8830797/ A_collaboratively_drafted_campus_policy_framework_for_open_badges