UNESCO General Conference adopts Global Recognition Convention

20 November 2019

The UNESCO General Conference has adopted the Global Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications, or Global Recognition Convention, as it is more commonly referred to. This document constitutes a culmination of decades of efforts of streamlining recognition practices across continents, and follows in the footsteps of several regional recognition conventions adopted, most notably the Lisbon Recognition Convention.

Fair and transparent academic recognition is an indispensable precondition for making educational mobility a reality for the growing global student population. Like its regional predecessors, the Global Recognition Convention provides a legal basis for asserting fair and transparent treatment of mobile students’ applications to have their qualifications recognised, including the right to appeal decisions and a limit on turnaround time. The Convention also places the burden of proof with the recognising authority, which in most European higher education systems are the universities. They are obliged to recognise the qualification unless there is evidence of so-called “substantial differences”. As pointed out by Allan Bruun Pedersen, Vice-President of the Lisbon Recognition Convention Committee Bureau, the Global Recognition Convention largely confirms basic elements of earlier conventions and will thus provide an occasion for universities to check whether they are fulfilling their commitments, while also expanding the scope of these commitments to a population of students from all corners of the globe.

The next step in the process is the convention’s ratification by national governments who – to follow up on their pledge to facilitate mobility and exchange across the globe – will need to invest in comprehensive measures to support and monitor implementation of recognition procedures and decisions in compliance with the Global Recognition Convention.

The UNESCO General Conference runs from 12-27 November in Paris.

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