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Nordic experience with automatic recognition of diplomas and study periods abroad

On 12 April, the Swedish Presidency and the Mission of Norway to the EU organised a joint seminar on automatic mutual recognition in higher education, in Brussels. The seminar provided an opportunity to present Nordic processes for recognition, as well as the long-standing cooperation between the Nordic countries in this field.

In the framework of the 2018 Council Recommendation on promoting automatic mutual recognition of higher education and upper secondary education diplomas and the outcomes of learning periods abroad, EU member states make a political commitment to take steps for ensuring automatic recognition by 2025. This commitment will be accompanied by actions that will build trust in each other’s education systems, and support member states to improve recognition to facilitate learning mobility.

In their welcoming remarks, Oddmund Løkensgard Hoel, State Secretary, the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, and Maria Nilsson, State Secretary, the Swedish Ministry of Education and Research stressed the importance of recognition for student mobility and the labour market. They also advocated for consistent common approaches based on existing frameworks offered under the European Education Area, the Bologna Process, UNESCO and other fora, including regional ones.

Experts representing two ACA member organisations - Einar Meier, Head of Recognition of Foreign Higher Education, the Norwegian Directorate for Higher Education and Skills (HK-dir) and Cecilia George, Senior Credential Evaluator, the Swedish Council for Higher Education (UHR), as well as Allan Bruun Pedersen, Senior Adviser, the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science, made detailed presentations about the approaches pursued by their respective ENIC-NARICs.

Multiple examples of good practice in the Nordic region presented at the seminar include automatic recognition of upper secondary and Bachelor qualifications for all EU/EEA countries, use of examinations and country handbooks with general standards of recognition, hotlines for admission officers, regular webinars and training sessions, appeal systems for applicants, as well as a joint working group (NORRIC). Some of the persistent challenges include differences in qualification cycles, as well as the confusion between access and admission, which requires further communication to higher education institutions on automatic recognition and general standards, as well as further training, monitoring, and digital data improvements.

The Nordic experience in the field of automatic recognition is feeding into the Council conclusions on promoting trust-based automatic recognition, which are expected to be approved at the next Education Council meeting on 16 May 2023.