unescoIn recent years, mobility of students and workforce has created increased attention on instruments that would make cross-border recognition of educational qualifications easier. This has frequently been presented as an issue and can understandably be a quite frustrating process to have your hard earned foreign diploma not recognized in your home country. While a number of regional initiatives have emerged world wide – are we now witnessing a more global effort in this area?

Lisbon Convention

UNESCOs convention on recognition of qualifications for the European region was adopted in 1997 in Lisbon, and is signed by all of the 47 countries in the Council of Europe with the exception of Greece and Monaco.

It introduced a rather novel idea at the time as it states that qualifications are to be recognized between the countries that have signed the regional convention unless the recognition granting institution can prove “substantial differences”. Basically this means that the process of recognition is turned around – by default one does not need to prove equivalence of degrees to assure recognition, but one has to prove that there is substantial difference for degrees not to recognize a qualification. This is also one of the reasons why Lisbon Recognition convention has been essential in the context of the Bologna Process.

Increased focus on cross-border mobility and recognition in Europe

Recognition and cross-border mobility seems to be a topic that is increasingly gaining focus, also in difficult economic times when mobility of labour force and students is perhaps more relevant than ever and the inherent benefits of mobility are frequently emphasized in political documents and official statements.