Education abroad programs attended by international students are often organized by independent educational organizations or program providers. However many of these organizations are not recognized by national or regional higher education accrediting commissions. To award credit for work completed off campus, most institutions require that students produce an official transcript from an accredited institution. So that their courses might be recognized by a student’s institution, non-accredited host organizations may enter into a legal contract with an accredited institution to establish what is called a School of Record relationship.
A School of Record (SOR) relationship is premised upon extending the principles and practices of quality assurance of an accredited institution over the academic operations of a non-accredited institution or provider organization. As such, a School of Record enables students to transfer academic credit easily from abroad, even when the educational program they are attending is not itself accredited by a national or regional body. For program providers, the ease of transferring credit increases enrollment and enhances both visibility and credibility. For accredited institutions serving as a School of Record and providing transcripts for academic work completed abroad, there are multiple benefits: greater access to education abroad programs, increased experience in education abroad operations, enhanced visibility of their commitment to internationalization, and new revenue streams. Students, non-accredited providers, and accredited universities all benefit from School of Record relationships.
Let Gateway be your partner in establishing and managing your School of Record relationship. At Gateway, we support educational organizations seeking to establish an SOR relationship and accredited institutions seeking to provide SOR services.
It is increasingly common for students to take courses abroad at educational institutions or independent providers that are not accredited. In doing so, and in order to earn credit toward their major or degree, students often need to transfer that coursework to their home institution. The School of Record facilitates that transfer and thus solves a simple but vexing matter in education abroad—many institutions do not recognize as credit-worthy, instruction offered at non-accredited organizations whose quality assurance practices may be unfamiliar to them. However, those institutions generally will accept as transfer or resident credit, courses transcripted by “peer” institutions, particularly in the same country as the credit-receiving institution.
Per the Forum on Education Abroad’s Guidance on School of Record Relationships for Education Abroad, “A School of Record relationship is when an accredited institution of higher learning documents and awards credit for programs or institutions that are not accredited.” As an example, if an accredited institution transcripts and awards credit to students for courses or programs taken abroad via a non-accredited educational organization, the accredited institution acts as a School of Record. Moreover, and as a consequence of awarding academic credit, it is the responsibility of the SOR to verify the academic integrity of such courses or programs and to validate their quality before awarding credit.
Educational organizations that generally require an SOR include:
SOR relationships provides benefits to all involved: the organization providing instruction to international students, the institution providing the School of Record transcript, and most importantly the student, who can more readily receive academic credit for work completed abroad.
By establishing an SOR relationship, educational organizations can expand their access to international students through credit transfer that is as easy for most students as domestic transfer.
Accredited institutions serving as a School of Record gain privileged access for their own students to high-quality programs while simultaneously exercising significant oversight over the academic integrity of those programs. By gaining access to provider organizations, along with the oversight experience that comes with it, the School of Record extends its efforts and ambitions in comprehensive internationalization.
Providing an SOR transcript advances your institution’s visibility and reputation among those peers with substantive investment in comprehensive internationalization, through trusted and tested partnership(s) and service to the education abroad community.
Providing an SOR transcript allows your institution to assert a level of quality control over instruction offered by your partner(s), benefitting your own and others’ students.
Providing an SOR transcript allows you to influence course and program content per institutional and student needs.