In September 2017 the third and last assessment session of the Council of Europe-led pilot project “European Qualifications Passport for Refugees” was held in Athens. The project involved the Greek Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs, the national recognition centres (NARICs) from Greece, Italy, Norway and the UK as well as the UNHCR Office in Greece.
The passport is a document containing the assessment of the applicants' higher education qualifications, work experience and language proficiency, based on the available documentation and on a structured interview. In the three evaluation sessions held in March, June and September respectively, about 70 passports were issued. They will serve as a tool for refugees who lack a complete documentation of their qualifications to be able to proceed with their studies or enter the labour-market. So far, Norway and the UK have introduced this methodology and confirmed its efficacy and cost-effectiveness: one procedure for all and the possibility of being recognised within whole Europe will result in saving time and resources.
The goal of the next phase is to upscale the process while continuing to raise awareness with local authorities, higher education institutions and employers on the need to recognise the refugees’ qualifications, as the project ultimately aims to support the overall process of integrating refugees into their new communities. They can decide how to adapt the project to their national context and which stakeholders can carry out the assessments, if the national ENIC-NARIC offices or universities. The National Information Centre in Italy (CIMEA) has a central information role among the network of qualifications network centres in Europe.
A proposal for a two-year project starting in January 2018 is currently being discussed in the Council of Europe. If implemented, in addition to Greece, it would also include Italy
as a relevant country for refugees.