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November 26, 2019

UNESCO adopts the first United Nations international treaty on Higher Education as UNESCO General Conference endorses the Global Convention on Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications.

Unesco Gneral Confrence, Degrees

Unesco Gneral Confrence, Degrees

Photo: The 40th UNESCO General Conference in Paris. 25 November 2019. Image provided by & copyright © UNESCO/Fred Di Girolamo.

Unesco Gneral Confrence, Higher Education

Photo: Scene during the plenary meeting of the 40th UNESCO General Conference in Paris. 26 November 2019. Image provided by & copyright © UNESCO/Marie Etchegoyen.

Paris, France, 26 November 2019 — On 25 November 2019, UNESCO’s Member States adopted the first United Nations convention on higher education when the plenary of the 40th session of the General Conference endorsed the Global Convention on Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education. The new Convention establishes universal principles for recognition of studies and degrees and will improve mobility for the more than 220 million students enrolled in higher education worldwide.

Eight years in the making, the new Global Convention expands the scope of the main principles of UNESCO’s regional recognition conventions to assess foreign qualifications in a fair, non-discriminatory, and transparent manner. It builds on quality assurance mechanisms and sharing of information about higher education institutions and systems, study programs, and degrees. Where the regional conventions only cover mobility between countries within the different UNESCO regions, the Global Convention paves the way for the increasing movement between regions and continents, which already counts for more than half of the 5 million mobile students in the world today.

Although the Global Convention does not impose automatic recognition of foreign qualifications, it lays down the principle that a student qualifying for access to higher education in one country generally will qualify for higher education studies when moving to another country.

The Global Convention also simplifies recognition processes by turning the burden of proof from applicants to recognition authorities. Where in the past, it has been mostly up to students to prove why their foreign qualifications should be recognized, it is now up to recognition authorities to show why they have not granted recognition. Even when the authorities withhold recognition of skills, applicants have the right to appeal.

Furthermore, the general rule is now for recognition authorities to look for similarities to recognize foreign qualifications, rather than rejecting recognition based on insignificant dissimilarities between international and national requirements, as has often been the case before.

The Global Convention includes innovative provisions on recognition of prior learning, partial studies, cross-border education, and non-traditional learning modes such as online or blended learning. With the Global Convention, the obligation to fairly assess the qualifications of refugees who cannot provide sufficient documentation becomes a universal principle. UNESCO is, therefore, piloting the UNESCO Qualifications Passport for Refugees and Vulnerable Migrants to provide the Member States with a tool for assessing undocumented qualifications held by refugees.

The new Convention creates a normative platform for fostering trust among higher education systems. It is a landmark opportunity for the world’s academic communities to embrace a common good and a shared resolve to forge lifelong higher education learning institutions that are at once relevant, dynamic, and inclusive. The Convention will help ensure the right to education of individuals by facilitating access to higher education.

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Edited & Posted by the Editor | 10:59 AM | Link to this Post

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