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Credit transfer

Use your previous HE study to help you gain an OU qualification

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I transfer credit awarded by The Open University to another provider?

If you would like to transfer credit awarded by The Open University towards study at another provider, we recommend that you contact that provider directly to find out about their credit transfer or Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) arrangements. 

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What's it like to be an OU student?

There is a free course available being an OU student which will help you get the best possible start on your journey with The Open University.  Students who invest a bit of time preparing for their studies are more likely to succeed, so taking time to do this course will help in the long run.

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Am I ready to be a distance learner?

You'll be studying flexibly with the experts in distance learning. You'll have a tutor, and access to lively online tutorials and student forums.  Find out more about distance learning at The Open University by visiting what is distance-learning? or by completing the free course am I ready to be a distance learner? .

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How will the classification of my OU qualification be affected by credit transfer?

After you have transferred your previous credit and completed the OU study required to finish your chosen qualification we will work out the classification of that qualification e.g. first class, 2:1, 2:2 etc. When we do this the grades that you achieved in the study you completed outside of the OU will not be taken into account. Your classification will be based solely on the study that you complete at the OU.

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How can I tell if my previous study was on the Ofqual register, the RQF/QCF?

A register of regulated qualifications is being developed by Ofqual (The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation). If you have a qualification that is on the Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF) or the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF - same link as RQF), we may be able to award a credit transfer for it.

If you can answer Yes to each of the questions below then your study may be on the RQF or the QCF.

If you are not sure whether your qualification was on the RQF or the QCF at the time you studied it you can check at the link above, or contact your previous study institution to find out.

  • Is your qualification at Level 4 or above?
  • Does the title of your qualification include the word Award, Certificate or Diploma?
  • Do you have a credit certificate, notification of performance or transcript which shows
    • the units you studied, their codes or reference numbers, credit value and level
    • a QAN (Ofqual qualification accreditation number)?
    • is the Ofqual logo on it?

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What evidence do I need to provide if I have a partly completed overseas qualification?

If you are applying for credit transfer for a partly completed qualification studied overseas, we require an official academic transcript or diploma supplement to support your application. The transcript or diploma supplement should state the title of the qualification you were studying towards, list all the modules or subjects you studied in each year and the marks or grades you achieved for each module, including a key to the grades.

If you have previously studied in Europe, please provide official confirmation of the ECTS credit rating for each module. If your previous study pre-dates ECTS credit ratings, the transcript or diploma supplement should clearly indicate the proportion of the qualification for which you successfully completed the assessment. To help us identify the proportion of study you have successfully completed we may need you to provide confirmation from your previous institution of the overall requirements of the qualification.

The transcript or diploma supplement should be stamped or signed by the registry of your previous institution and be on original letter-headed paper. You may also need to provide syllabus information. If you do not have this information you should contact your previous institution to request it.

Any evidence in a language other than English must be accompanied by a formal translation of the documents.

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What is syllabus information?

An academic transcript gives the title of each module that you completed but when we ask for syllabus information it is because we need more detail than this. Syllabus information provides a description of the topics and subjects you covered in each module and the learning outcomes you were expected to achieve on completion. This is normally about 1 or 2 paragraphs for each module but can be more detailed.

Syllabus information can sometimes be found on your previous institution’s website or in the student handbook provided when you studied, or you may need to contact your former institution and ask them to provide it. Syllabus information must relate to content of the module or course at the time you studied.

In what circumstances is syllabus information required?

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What evidence do I need to provide for my overseas qualification?

If you are applying for credit transfer for a qualification studied overseas, we require an official academic transcript or diploma supplement to support your application. The transcript or diploma supplement should state the title of the qualification you were studying towards, list all of the modules or subjects you studied in each year and the marks or grades you achieved for each module including a key to the grades. If you have previously studied in Europe, please provide official confirmation of the ECTS credit rating for each module.

Depending on the OU qualification that you are applying for credit transfer towards you may also need to provide syllabus information.

If any of your documents are in a language other than English then you will also need to provide a formal translation of the documents. This must be completed by a professional translator; unfortunately we are unable to accept documents that you have translated yourself.

If you only partly completed your overseas qualification there is some additional evidence we require.

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What is an academic transcript?

An academic transcript from a university can also be referred to as an academic record, a diploma supplement, a statement of learning, a record of achievement or something else similar. It should list all the modules or subjects you studied in each year, the marks or grades you achieved for each module and the credit value and level of each module.  It should be stamped or signed by the registry of your previous institution and be on official letter-headed paper. If you do not have an academic transcript you will need to contact your previous institution to request one.

A transcript from a professional body will list all the units completed, grades achieved and confirmation of any exemptions.  It should be stamped or signed by your previous institution and be on official letter-headed paper.

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What if I was granted exemptions from my previous study?

Unfortunately we cannot award credit for exemptions or compensated passes made by another institution. The credit shown for previous study on our website assumes that the full programme of study was completed. If you were granted exemptions or compensated passes for some parts of the qualification, we shall award credit only for the part of the programme which you successfully completed with that particular institution.

You may have been exempted from study for part of the qualification because you already had previous study that covered this element, or on the basis of the job you hold or your previous experience. If you were granted exemptions on the basis of previous academic study and this study is also eligible for credit, we may be able to give an additional award. However, you must also provide an academic transcript and syllabus information for this study. 

A compensated or condoned pass is awarded by an institution when you have not met the pass mark for a module but for some reason this was permitted by the institution. It could be that you failed the examination but had very high coursework marks, or that special dispensation was given as a result of your personal circumstances such as ill health. Unfortunately we are unable to award credit transfer on the basis of previous study that was achieved through compensation.

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What are CATS points or credits?

The credit system used by the OU is aligned to the national Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS). The CATS system helps you to move the credits you accumulate from one institution to another.  So if you have completed some previous study at another institution, you may be able to count it towards your OU qualification.

The Scheme equates one credit (or credit point) with 10 hours of notional learning time (the time, on average, a learner takes to achieve the specified learning outcomes). A module allocated 30 credits or ‘CATS points’ should require students to commit approximately 300 hours of work to achieving the learning outcomes for the module at a particular level. OU modules carry credits normally ranging from 30 to 60 credits.

CATS points have been around since the early 1990s.

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How do we decide which qualifications from overseas we award credit transfer for?

The OU awards credit transfer for certain overseas qualifications. In order to be eligible for an award both your previous qualification and the previous institution at which you studied must be included on this site.  

The current range of approved qualifications has been built over a number of years and we aim to consider those commonly occurring qualifications where there is a high level of demand. We use information from the UK National Academic Recognition Information Centre (UK NARIC), but final decisions on the approval of awards are made by the Credit Rating Panel on behalf of the University.

Unfortunately due to resource constraints we are unable to consider individual student requests to extend approval of awards.

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Can I have my credit transfer re-assessed at a later date if my circumstances change?

We recommend that you finalise your credit transfer before you begin studying. If after your application has been assessed you are able to obtain further information or evidence in support of your application you should contact us to discuss whether or not your application should be re-assessed.

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I’ve emailed you my application for credit transfer, what happens next?

Once we receive your application for credit transfer we will acknowledge receipt by email.

The application process normally takes around four weeks, but this can be up to eight weeks during our busiest periods. We make an assessment of your previous study and, if appropriate refer your application to one of our faculty colleagues for advice on the award of credit to be made.

Before your application is finalised a StudentHome page will be generated for you if you do not already have one. You will receive an email notifying you that this has been done and providing you with your log-in details.

Once an assessment of your credit has been made and the award of credit transfer approved then you will be emailed again to notify you that the details of your credit transfer are available to view on your StudentHome page.

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What information do I have to provide with my application?

You will need to complete the application form that can be found at the bottom of the 'How to apply' section of the site.

You should also provide your official academic transcript and your certificates.

You may be required to provide syllabus information click here for more details.

Please also check the credit transfer factsheet for your chosen OU qualification, as any additional requirements will be stated here.

Usually the above documentation and information provides enough details of your qualifications for us to assess your application for credit transfer. However sometimes we will contact you to advise you to request extra information.

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When should I make an application for credit transfer?

You should apply for credit transfer as early as possible. First use this site to confirm that your previous study may be eligible for credit transfer, and choose the OU qualification you would like to study, then make your application.

Once you know the outcome of your application for credit transfer it will be easier for us to advise you about module fees, the amount of time you will spend studying and which modules you need to study to complete your qualification.

You need to finalise your credit transfer award before you register to study your qualification so it is best to send your application as early as possible.

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My previous study does not appear on your site, can I apply for credit transfer?

If you have worked through the Previous study finder on this site and your qualifications were not mentioned then unfortunately we are unable to consider your previous study for credit transfer.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t study with us, and you could visit www.open.ac.uk/courses to decide what you would like to study and register for a module.

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Where is my nearest regional or national centre?

See details of your nearest regional or national centre.

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Can I send photocopies or submit an application electronically?

We are unable to accept applications electronically or with photocopied or scanned documents. To ensure that our academic standards are maintained we have to see original hardcopy evidence of your studies to ensure that no fraudulent applications are accepted.

If you are not comfortable sending your original documents in the post then you may send photocopies only where they have been stamped and verified as true copies of the original documents. This can be done by either a solicitor, a member of OU staff or the Registry department at your awarding institution.

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What if I can’t get hold of syllabus information?

If you are applying for credit transfer towards the Open degree only, you do not need to provide syllabus information. Please send your application without it.

If you are applying for credit transfer towards a named degree then we may be able to assess your application towards some elements of the degree without syllabus information. You should make your application anyway and we will consider it if we can. However please note that without syllabus information the amount of credit you can be awarded is often much less, or may be none.

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When do I need to provide syllabus information?

Most applications for credit transfer require you to provide syllabus information.

If you are applying for credit transfer only towards an Open degree you do not need to provide syllabus information, as it does not matter which subject you studied previously.

If you are applying for credit transfer toward an OU qualification which is completely different to the subjects of your previous studies, and therefore expect only to be awarded free choice credit, then you do not need to provide syllabus information.

However if you are applying for credit transfer towards an OU qualification in a similar subject area to your previous studies, or you want us to complete as detailed an assessment as possible, you may need to provide syllabus information. Please check the factsheet for your chosen OU qualification to confirm whether syllabus information is required.

Please note that you may be prohibited from studying certain modules if the content of your previous study is very similar to OU modules. When your credit transfer award has been made it will show you any modules that you are prohibited from studying.

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Can I register for a module before I arrange my credit transfer?

If you are planning to study towards a qualification you need to arrange your credit transfer before you register for the qualification and your first modules.

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Why hasn’t my credit transfer been awarded at Level 3?

All of the Level 3 credit required in an OU qualification must come from OU modules. So even though we recognise that you may have already completed study and have credit at Level 3 we will award this credit transfer at Level 2. If you particularly request it we can note on your academic transcript that the credit transfer was awarded based on study at Level 3, however this cannot be used in place of the requirement to complete Level 3 study with the OU.

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If I am awarded credit transfer will this affect my choice of OU module?

Yes, if you are awarded credit transfer you will not have to study as many modules and it will affect which module you start with. You may also be prohibited from studying certain modules if your previous study is very similar. Any modules you are prohibited from studying will be shown on your credit transfer certificate once your credit transfer application has been finalised.

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How do you decide which qualifications you award credit transfer for?

The current range includes undergraduate and postgraduate study from the UK and Republic of Ireland and certain professional, vocational and overseas qualifications.

In 2011 we approved arrangements for accepting certain study from the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) and the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). 

Unfortunately due to resource constraints we are unable to consider individual student requests to extend approval of awards.  

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Already studied?

 If you have already studied with the OU please sign in to make sure that you get the credit transfer information that is relevant to you. 

Contact us

If you have any queries about applying for credit transfer please feel free to contact us using the link below.

Please try to include:

  • which qualification you completed
  • the organisation you completed it through
  • when you completed it
  • which OU qualification you would like to transfer to

Contact us about credit transfer.

If you have general questions about the University feel free to contact us.

More information about The Open University.