home to  ACE mainpage




(see graphic outline

In the following, a schematic outline will be given of the recommended procedure for the assessment of foreign qualifications or periods of study.  This is intended as a summary checklist.  In practice, the sequence of the steps outlined may vary, or several steps may be taken simultaneously.

Step 1

Receipt of the inquiry or application by the competent recognition authority.

Acknowledgement of receipt; information to the applicant about procedures and criteria.

Proceed to step 2.

Step 2

Verification of whether all necessary information is supplied.

If no: gather further information from the applicant or higher education institution(s) 

If yes: proceed to step 3

Step 3

Verification of whether the applicant's qualification is authentic, and whether the documents submitted have in fact been rightfully issued to the applicant.  [In this the competent authority may seek the assistance of the national information centre]

If no: (i.e. the qualification is false): recognition refused.

If yes: proceed to step 4.

Step 4

Verification of whether the institution and/or programme having issued the qualification is recognized as belonging to a system of higher education. In the case of transnational education, verification of whether the awarding institution complies with the principles stipulated in the UNESCO/Council of Europe Code of Good Practice in the Provision of Transnational Education. 

If no: recognition would normally not be granted.

If yes: proceed to step 5.

Step 5

Assessment of the foreign qualification, taking into account:

            (i)         the purpose for which recognition is sought;

(ii)                 formal regulations

                        (a)        national laws

                        (b)        international Conventions, directives, Recommendations, good practice, etc.

            (iii)        past practice in similar cases;

(iv)                the content of the qualification, to the extent that this completes items (i) - (iii);

(v)                  information and advice from other ENICs, higher education institutions or other sources.

The assessment should seek to answer questions such as:

            (a)        are the differences in (targeted or achieved) learning outcomes so substantial that the foreign qualification cannot be fully recognised?   If so, is it possible to grant alternative or partial recognition?

            (b)        are the differences in the further activities for which the foreign and the home country qualifications prepare so substantial that full recognition is not possible?  If so, is alternative or partial recognition possible?

            (c)        are the differences in key elements of the programme leading to the qualification so substantial in relation to similar programmes in the host country that full recognition cannot be granted in view of the purpose for which recognition is sought?  If so, is alternative or partial recognition possible?

            (d)        is the quality of the programme or the institution at which the qualification was earned so different from similar programmes or institutions in the host country that full recognition is not possible?  If so, is alternative or partial recognition possible?

Step 6

The assessment statement on the foreign qualification is issued (the outcome of the assessment).  Depending on national laws and practice, this may take the form of:

            (i)         advice to another institution, which will then make the decision;    

            (ii)         a decision;

            (iii)        a statement to the applicant or to whom it may concern (e.g. current or prospective employers, higher education institutions, etc.).

If positive decision by (i) or (ii):  recognition granted, applicant satisfied.

If negative decision: the reason(s) for the decision should be clearly stated and the applicant informed of his or her possibilities for appeal.  

The applicant may:

            (a)        accept the verdict;

            (b)        appeal the verdict.



back to recommendations main text
back to explanatory memorandum

ACE mainpage