Council of Europe Working party
to the topic
Report on the Seminar
15-16 Nov 1999, Strasburg
qualifications (in the context of refugees)
Draft guidelines for the
recognition of refugees qualifications
"Background Paper" - a
potential new recognition tool for recognition of qualifications held by the refugees
experience with certificates from Serbia and Kosovo
seminar on recognition of refugee qualifications,
Strasbourg, 15-16 November 1999
by Erwin Malfroy, NARIC-Flanders
All countries within the European Region have some experience with
assessment of qualifications brought along by refugees from their country of origin.
However, there has been no attempt to collect or evaluate this experience. Furthermore,
there is a lack of extensive and updated information about the education systems from
which the refugees have obtained their qualifications.
With support from the EC, the Danish Refugee Council was carrying out a
project on qualifications held by refugees in 1998.
In the field of higher education, the NARIC
(European Union) and ENIC (Council of Europe & UNESCO)
Networks ensure an international cooperation on recognition of qualifications. During the
Joint NARIC/ENIC meetings in Wien, 1998, and Vilnius, 1999, the project of the Danish
Refugee Council was presented and gave the NARICs and ENICs an opportunity to comment on
the project and the outcomes.
The objectives of the project were:
- to work out a handbook offering descriptions of the education systems in
Iran, Iraq, Somalia and former Yugoslavia. These areas had been chosen because Denmark had
received a high number of refugees from these areas;
- to publish a report describing and evaluating the experience of assessing
refugees qualifications by the member states of the European Union.
The report was being written on the background of information provided
by NARICs & ENICs, Ministries of Education, education institutions and refugee
organizations and completed in December 1998.
In Spring 1999 the LRC of the Council of Europe & UNESCO (adopted in
1997) came into force and one of the articles especially focuses on the recognition of
The ENIC Bureau decided to follow up the project of the Danish Refugee
Council and planned this seminar.
The purpose of the seminar is to prepare and train credential evaluators
and others who will be called upon to evaluate or help to evaluate qualifications held by
refugees, displaced persons and persons in a refugee-like situation.
The training seminar is developed on the basis of the crisis in South
East Europe, although the first part of it will deal with concerns of more general
relevance to the assessment of any qualifications held by refugees, no matter what their
geographical origin is.
Although many refugees are now returning to Kosovo, this does not
eliminate the need for special measures aimed at those who will remain abroad for some
time to come. The return of an unexpectedly large number of refugees reduces the need for
such special measures but does not do away with this concern, although much attention will
naturally shift to Kosovo as well as to Serbia.
Like medical treatment, the assessment of qualifications should be fair
and equal for all. This implies that while the majority of refugees from South East Europe
are of ethnic Albanian origin, the same treatment should be accorded to refugees of
Serbian or any other ethnic origin. Some of the Serbian refugees will have their education
from Kosovo, others from Serbia. It will be recalled that the ENIC Network at its 1999
meeting adopted a statement on recognition and mobility issues related to the crisis in
South East Europe.
Report by the Working Party on refugee qualifications
Seminar on recognition of
Strasbourg, 15-16 November 1999
Since both space and funds were limited, the working party had to make
the hard choice of limiting invitations to this seminar to a number of countries having
received a high number of refugees from Kosovo.
The following ENICs were invited to appoint two representatives each to
- United Kingdom
The representatives were either ENIC staff or credential evaluators from
higher education institutions or others involved in the recognition of refugee
qualifications, or a combination thereof.
Canada sent, on his own expenses, a representative of the International
Credential Evaluation Service dealing with this issue.
A list of all the participants can be obtained from Mr. Villano Qiriazi
of the Council of Europe, tel:++33 388 41 36 24 fax:++33 388 41 27 06, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Monday 15 November 1999
by Mr. Sjur Bergan, head of Higher Education and Research Section of the
Council of Europe and Mr. Erwin Malfroy, chair of the working party on refugee
Introduction to the seminar
by Mr. Erwin Malfroy, chair of the working party on refugee
Major issues in the recognition of
by Dr. Hernan Rosenkranz, World University Service United Kingdom
Guidelines on recognition of refugee
by Mr. Erwin Malfroy
Presentation of the Background Paper
by Kitty Wigleven
The remarks and suggestions made during the group discussions
regarding the Guidelines and the Background Paper are included in the redrafted versions.
In Canada there is already a kind of Background Paper in use.
A sample can be faxed upon request (email@example.com).
A general remark is that in each country the legal situation for
refugees is quite different. Although there are almost no special legal measures for
refugees wanting to get access to higher education or employment, the ENICs try to find
within the legal framework ways to convince higher education institutions to admit
refugees or convince professional bodies to give refugees a chance to proof their skills
through practical trainings.
Some of the countries have special measures for refugees from
All ENICs present were invited to submit examples of such special
In spite of the fact that special measures, such as interviews
and tests, may require extra time, the whole procedure should not expand the four months
The language barrier stays a very important obstacle to create
goodwill by higher education institutions and employers. Unfortunately forgeries can
easily and quickly destroy the build-up helpfulness.
3. Tuesday 16 November 1999
Access qualifications in Kosovo
by Ms. Polona Miklauc Valencic and Ms. Eva Vilfan from the Slovenian ENIC
Higher education system in Kosovo
by Mr. Elmar Pichl, World University Service - Austria
Plenary discussion session
Taken into account the lack of educational facilities, the
question of the quality of the followed education in Kosovo via the parallel system arise
especially in the field of applied science or medicine. It will be very hard for
credential evaluators to consider the quality of such studies to be comparable to the
quality standards of their own educational system.
Given the fact that the educational system in Kosovo is a
parallel educational system and that for example the degrees were printed on any available
paper, authenticity of the documents and degrees is a major issue.
In order to tackle the major recognition problems concerning
degrees from Kosovo, the credential evaluators need authorised sources of information.
Conclusions of the seminar
This first encounter between representatives of refugee organizations
and credential evaluators (ENICs) was successful and stressed the importance of sharing
information and good examples.
The working party will make a report of the seminar that will be put on
the ENIC listserver.
The outcomes of this first seminar will be included in the updating of
the Council of Europa & UNESCO draft Recommendation
on criteria and procedures.