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The free movement of people to study within Europe is a founding principle and long-term objective of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). Well-functioning, fair and transparent recognition of foreign qualifications and study periods abroad for the purpose of further studies, or “academic recognition” in short, is a crucial precondition for student mobility.

Academic recognition in full compliance with the Council of Europe/UNESCO Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region, commonly referred to as Lisbon Recognition Convention (LRC), has also been confirmed as a key commitment of the Bologna Process, for example in the Paris Ministerial Communiqué of 2018.

Learn more about the Lisbon Recognition Convention

Decisions on recognising foreign qualifications for academic purposes are in most cases in the remit of higher education institutions (HEIs), as opposed to centralised-level entities such as the ENIC (European Network of Information Centres in the European Region) and NARIC (National Academic Recognition Information Centres in the European Union) centres, or national higher education authorities. At the same time, many useful international tools, frameworks and networks have been created to support higher education professionals in implementing recognition processes and decisions that are fair, transparent and efficient. These include the European Recognition Manual for Higher Education Institutions, the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG), the recommendations of the Erasmus+ co-funded LIREQA (Linking Academic Recognition and Quality Assurance) project, the results of the Erasmus+ co-funded FAIR (Focus on Automatic Institutional Recognition) project, and the ENIC-NARIC networks.

Consult the European Recognition Manual for Higher Education Institutions

Nevertheless, challenges in the day-to-day implementation of LRC-compliant recognition processes and decisions persist. In addition, recent developments such as the European-level ambition to achieve “automatic recognition”, as well as the Global Recognition Convention, which entered into force in March 2023, contribute to the need for clear, continuous and coordinated information provision and training on recognition matters for relevant HEI staff, as well as regular opportunities for cross-border exchanges of practice.

What is automatic recognition?


EUA closely follows developments in the field of academic recognition and advocates for enhanced efforts to provide clear information and training to HEI staff responsible for academic recognition. The Association does so through participation in various projects (e.g. the Thematic Peer Group on the implementation of the Lisbon Recognition Convention in EHEA countries – Constructing recognition in the EHEA (TPG-LRC CoRE)) and notably coordinated the Erasmus+ co-funded “Spotlight on recognition” project (2020-2022). The need for information and training is particularly pressing due to the high degree of decentralisation in the implementation of recognition processes and decisions, as outlined above.

EUA also represents the European university sector in policy-making processes such as the work of the Council of Europe’s Ad-Hoc Working Group on Automatic Recognition and the Global University Associations Forum (GUAF), whose working priorities for the period 2022/2023 include international mobility and recognition.

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