Forslag til rådsrekommandasjon om fremme av automatisk gjensidig godkjenning av eksamensbeviser for videregående utdanning og resultater av læringsopphold i utlandet
Proposal for a Council Recommendation on promoting automatic mutual recognition of higher education and upper secondary education diplomas and the outcomes of learning periods abroad
Dansk departementsnotat offentliggjort 22.6.2018
BAKGRUNN (fra kommisjonsforslaget, engelsk utgave)
Reasons for and objectives of the proposal
The objective of the proposed Council Recommendation is to ensure that any student, apprentice or pupil who has a learning experience abroad, whether for a qualification or learning mobility, has that experience automatically recognised for the purposes of further study. This shall not prejudice the right of an education and training institution to make decisions on admission.
This goal is a core element of the ambition to work towards a European Education Area by 2025, which calls for “a Europe in which learning, studying and doing research would not be hampered by borders. A continent, where spending time in another Member State – to study, to learn, or to work – has become the standard and where, in addition to one's mother tongue, speaking two other languages has become the norm; a continent in which people have a strong sense of their identity as Europeans, of Europe's cultural heritage and its diversity”. Our ambition is to enable Member States to intensify and accelerate their cooperation in these various areas, and thus also to provide inspiration to other non-EU countries to follow. Furthermore, the European Education Area will be based on a life-long learning approach, covering all age groups, all forms of learning and all sectors in education and training.
By adopting this Council Recommendation, Member States will be invited first to make a political commitment to automatic recognition. Then they will be invited to implement a technical step-by-step approach to build trust in each other’s education and training systems. This takes account of the situation in different education and training sectors, as procedures and tools for recognition are more developed in higher education than in secondary education. The proposal sets out the conditions that must be fulfilled for automatic recognition to become a reality, as well as the EU tools that can support Member States, and their education and training institutions, in the realisation of this goal.
Learning mobility fosters competences and experiences that are crucial for active participation in society and the labour market. It can also foster labour mobility and thereby contribute to better living standards, as well as individual and economic resilience. The recent mid-term evaluation of the Erasmus+ programme reported on the positive impact of mobility on learners’ confidence, independence, social capital and transition to employment. In the context of a globalised education and employment environment, it is imperative that learners are able to make the best possible use of all learning opportunities across the EU. However, the lack of automatic recognition of qualifications and the outcomes of learning periods abroad is hampering this mobility.
To date, the only legal text in this area is the Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region (Lisbon Recognition Convention), developed by the Council of Europe and UNESCO and adopted in 1997. It has since been ratified by 53 countries. It covers both school-leaving and higher education qualifications. Mutual recognition of higher education qualifications within the European Higher Education Area is also one of the fundamental goals of the Bologna Process, which was established in 1998 and is comprised of 48 countries, including all Member States. In the Bucharest Communique of 2012, Ministers committed to the long-term goal of automatic recognition. However, despite reaffirmation of this commitment in the Yerevan communiqué of 2015, in which Ministers committed to ensuring that “qualifications […] are automatically recognised at the same level as relevant domestic qualifications”, tangible progress continues to be slow or non-existent.
There are still too many cases in higher education where complicated, expensive, time-consuming recognition procedures hinder the free movement of learners. In some cases, these procedures can take several months and be very costly, with inconsistency and a lack of transparency adding to the difficulties learners face. One of the reasons for this is that decisions on recognition are often left to the discretion of the higher education institution to which the learner is applying, with varying institutional practices and a lack of uniformity in criteria.
In general upper secondary education, mutual recognition processes, of both upper secondary qualifications and outcomes of learning periods abroad, are underdeveloped. Holders of qualifications giving access to higher education in one Member State often lack certainty about access to higher education in another Member State. Furthermore, while shorter learning periods abroad create no recognition problems, uncertainty remains an important challenge for periods between three months and one year. This is having a negative impact on the learning mobility of people entering higher education, and also at secondary education level. Moreover, in view of an expansion of pupil mobility at secondary level in the future generation of the Erasmus+ programme, recognition issues at this level will become even more important.
Recognition of individual mobility in upper secondary vocational education and training is more developed. Such learners can use tools to have their learning outcomes recognised by their home institution. On the other hand, graduates of upper secondary vocational education and training who have access to higher education in their country do not have certainty that they will have the same access in other Member States, as national practices vary. This uncertainty about access clearly has a negative impact on learning mobility.
However, considerable progress has been made between groups of Member States that have come together to make agreements on automatic recognition. One of the examples is the Benelux Decision on automatic recognition signed on 25 January 2018, in which all higher education qualifications – from short cycle programmes to doctorates – are included. Similar arrangements apply amongst the Nordic countries, and a further agreement is expected to be signed by the Baltic states in 2018. Both of these include upper secondary qualifications that give access to higher education. In addition, some Member States, such as Austria and Italy, automatically recognise the outcomes of learning periods spent in any country during secondary education and training.
A positive example of cooperation between Member States regarding the recognition of upper secondary qualifications giving access to higher education is the European Baccalaureate, the diploma awarded by the European Schools. European Baccalaureate diploma holders enjoy the same rights and benefits as other holders of secondary school-leaving certificates in their countries, including the same right as nationals with equivalent qualifications to seek admission to any higher education institution in any Member State.
The added value of this proposal for a Council Recommendation is to build on these examples to spread automatic recognition to all Member States. It will support Member States and their education and training organisations in implementation, while respecting that they are responsible for their education and training systems. This important step towards the creation of the European Education Area can then act as an inspiration for progress to be made in other fora, for example, within the geographically wider European Higher Education Area.
For the purposes of this Council Recommendation, automatic recognition of a qualification is understood as the right for holders of a qualification that has been issued by one Member State to be considered for access to a programme for education or training in any other Member State, without having to go through a separate recognition procedure. Automatic recognition of the outcomes of a learning period abroad is understood as the right to have the outcomes of a learning period in one Member State recognised in any other Member State when the learning outcomes have been appropriately documented. A glossary of terms used in this document is provided in the annex.