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Recognition of qualifications and learning periods abroad

The European Commission published a report assessing the progress made by member states in the automatic and mutual recognition of higher education and upper secondary education and training qualifications and the outcomes of learning periods abroad. This report follows the related Council Recommendation adopted in November 2018. The Commission's analysis reveals that increased efforts are needed to fully implement the Council Recommendation by 2025:

  • National legislation for automatic recognition of higher education qualifications is in place in 12 member states (AT, DE, DK, ES, FI, FR, HR, IT, MT, PL, RO, SE) whilst 3 additional member states (CZ, EL, SK) are in the process of adapting their national legislation.
  • Nine member states (BE-nl, CZ, EE, HU, LT, LV, PL, SI, SK) make it available for a limited number of EU countries.
  • In 11 member states the Bologna and EU transparency tools are not fully implemented.
  • 14 member states (BG, DK, EE, FI, FR, DE, EL, IT, MT, NL, PL, RO, ES, SE) have in place national guidance for institutions, together with regular training provision and use of online tools for recognition decisions.
  • Systematic monitoring of recognition decisions is in place in 7 member states (BG, IT, LU, NL, PT, RO, SK).
  • Decision making for automatic recognition is done centrally by a competent body in 3 member states (DK, RO, SE). In all other member states, the decision on recognition of qualifications is decentralised to higher education institutions, which might increase the risk of inconsistent application.
  • When it comes to automatic recognition of learning periods abroad, the only available data is the one from the Erasmus+ programme. The European average in 2020 was 84.4 % of credits automatically recognised, with substantial differences between countries.

The study authors recommend member states to allocate the competence for automatic recognition decisions to a dedicated body (e.g., a NARIC) to ensure consistency of implementation and to better differentiate between recognition and admission, as well as to encourage higher education institutions to integrate recognition processes into their internal quality assurance procedures. A systematic approach for the monitoring and evaluation of recognition decisions for qualifications and individual learning mobility would improve transparency and contribute to evidence-based decision-making.

This report will inform the work on new initiatives, such as the new Learning Mobility Framework planned in the 2023 Commission Work Programme (for more details, see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe), recognition of qualifications gained outside the EU (as announced in the 2022 State of the Union address by President von der Leyen) and a joint European degree.