International cooperation on qualifications recognition

Mutual recognition of qualifications is part of the cooperation within the EU, the Council of Europe, UNESCO, the European Higher Education Area and the Nordic Council of Ministers.

The European Union

EU has adopted a directive to facilitate professional recognition with a view to practising regulated professions:

Young couple riding escalatorThe Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education coordinates the administration of the directive in Denmark.

As for academic recognition (recognition for education and training purposes), there are no similar binding rules within the framework of the European Union. However, there is a principle of equal access to education programmes of one EU member state for all EU citizens. Furthermore, in order to promote mutual recognition, the NARIC network has been established.

See also:

The Council of Europe and UNESCO

Logo for ENIC/NARIC-årsmødet 2017Since the 1950s, the Council of Europe and UNESCO have adopted a number of conventions and recommendations on mutual recognition.

The most important convention is the "Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region", i.e. the Lisbon Recognition Convention, which was adopted on 11 April 1997.

Read more about the Lisbon Recognition Convention and its subsidiary documents:

The ENIC/NARIC networks provide links to other Council of Europe/UNESCO conventions etc.:

Bologna process – European Higher Education Area

Following the Bologna declaration adopted in 1999, European ministers of education have cooperated to establish a European-wide higher education area.

Recognition is important for promoting international education and promoting cross-border mobility of students, researchers and workers. That is why recognition issues are also an important aspect of the Bologna process.

The ministers of education have repeatedly committed themselves to improving the recognition system.

Bucharest Communique

The Communique of the 2012 ministerial conference in Bucharest confirmed that "fair academic and professional recognition, including recognition of non-formal and informal learning, is at the core of the EHEA".

The ministers...

  • were "determined to remove outstanding obstacles hindering effective and proper recognition and [...] willing to work together towards the automatic recognition of comparable academic degrees, building on the tools of the Bologna framework, as a long-term goal of the EHEA";

  • committed themselves to reviewing their national legislation to comply with the Lisbon Recognition Convention;

  • welcomed the European Area of Recognition (EAR) Manual and recommended its use as a set of guidelines for recognition of foreign qualifications and a compendium of good practices;

  • encouraged higher education institutions and quality assurance agencies to assess institutional recognition procedures in internal and external quality assurance.

Yerevan Communique

At the 2015 conference in Yerevan, the ministers agreed, among other things, to review national legislations with a view to fully complying with the Lisbon Recognition Convention, and to promote the recognition of prior learning. The priorities for 2020 included automatic recognition of qualifications allowing students and graduates to move easily throughout the EHEA.

Read more:

Nordic agreements

The Reykjavik Declaration

In 2004 the Nordic Council of Ministers for Education and Research signed Reykjavik Declaration, the Nordic Declaration on Recognition of Qualifications Concerning Higher Education. In 2016 the Reykjavik Declaration was revised.

The revised Reykjavik Declaration aims to promote:

  • mutual recognition of higher education qualifications between the Nordic countries
  • automatic recognition of comparable qualifications in higher education in the region
  • co-operation on the assessment of qualifications obtained in Nordic and other countries, in particular via the NORRIC Network

Agreement on access to higher education

An agreement from 1996 aims to ensure equal access to higher education in the Nordic countries:

last modified Apr 03, 2018