The International Learning Curve

Assessing Foreign Academic Qualifications for ASET Membership

02, Mar, 2015

One of the challenges ASET has when granting certification is assessing the variety of academic credentials provided during membership application. How do you compare one technical program in another country to the education standards set in Alberta and make sure our members are fully qualified?

That’s where a credential evaluation service like the Government of Alberta’s International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS) helps. Established in 1994, IQAS assesses educational credentials received outside of Canada for entry into an Alberta academic institution, or for hiring with potential employers, or for certification and licensing in a professional regulatory organization.

“It’s important to make sure human capital within the province is not wasted,” says Jeff Stull, Manager at IQAS. “Our service evaluates clients’ academic credentials and helps them to utilize their personal skills.” 


The first role within IQAS is research and developing standards for comparing credentials. They provide a variety of workshops and seminars for organizations to understand international credential assessment methodology, and what it takes to compare educational qualifications. Over the years, IQAS has also developed country-specific resources for organizations to use, looking at a database of assessments and background research of that country’s educational system and credentials.

“We’ve developed International Education Guides for 11 countries, representing the nationalities of 70 per cent of our applicants,” describes Stull. “It takes over a year to develop each guide, and we’re starting to develop supplements to ensure the information is up-to-date.”

From there, clients can apply to have their credentials assessed at IQAS as part of their application with ASET. This involves authenticating the supplied educational documents, validating the accuracy of translations for the documents if not in English, confirming the recognition status of the educational institution, describing the educational program, providing a general statement of comparison, and conducting re-assessments if appealed.

“Our assessment process provides clients with a fair and transparent evaluation of their academic credentials,” says Jolanta Slaska, Manager. “We strive for consistency in our outcomes to maintain a high-level of standard.” 

It is important to note IQAS focuses on academic evaluations, and does not evaluate other professional development courses, or work experience and education within the trades. These qualifications are still left to the employers or professional regulatory bodies to evaluate as part of their hiring or certification process. But IQAS has developed an extensive repository over the years based on the academic institutions and programs it has encountered. 

“Our assessments are not meant to be a barrier to applicants,” reiterates Slaska. “Our role is to provide forthright rationale in our outcomes, and ultimately, support clients’ transition to Alberta.”

With this high level of standard, IQAS played a major role as a founding member of the Alliance of Credential Evaluation Services of Canada. With the significant time and investment put into the service, they provide assessments for academic institutions and professional regulatory bodies beyond Alberta, including Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and the Northwest and Yukon Territories. 

“The mandate of regulatory associations like ASET is to ensure public safety and maintain confidence in who becomes certified,” states Stull. “With our service, we help recognize the value of our clients and their capabilities.”