Guidance for Those Creating Diploma Supplements
The following guidelines,
explanatory notes and glossary are designed to help the production
of concise and effective supplements. They result from the work
of a joint European Commission - Council of Europe UNESCO/CEPES
working group that in 1997-1998 piloted and evaluated the
Diploma Supplement. The guidelines make strong recommendations
concerning the principles and good practice behind effective
supplements and the explanatory notes give further detailed advice
to higher education institutions who create supplements. The
guidelines and notes are available, along with the
supplement outline, in all EU/EA languages and Russian. A
range of good practice examples of completed Diploma
Supplements can be found by contacting the European Commission,
DG22 (http://europa.eu.int/en/com/dg22), the Council of
Europe (http://culture.coe.fr) or UNESCO/CEPES (http://www.cepes.ro).
The Diploma Supplement is a product of the Convention on the
Recognition of Qualifications Concerning Higher Education in
the European Region, Lisbon 1997. It was further tested
as part of the Phare Multi-Country Project, Recognition of
Higher Education Diploma and Study Credit Points Across Borders.
It is strongly
recommended that supplements should conform with the following
principles and practices:
The brief explanatory note (at the head of the sample
supplement) should be reproduced as part of each completed Diploma
Supplement, in order to guide universities, employers and other
potential users of the information.
Institutions should follow the structure and sequence of
information carefully developed and tested by the pilot project.
Various customised versions were tested and found not to be as clear
and user-friendly. In the cases where sections were omitted
altogether, these supplements were invariably found to be
ineffective. Great care needs to be taken in compiling supplements
in order to avoid imprecise, missing or confused information.
Over-long and over-complicated supplements should be avoided. They
irritate those who receive them. Avoid information overload and
present information as concisely as possible. The examples of good
practice supplements show how this can be done. The use of a
transcript clearly helps provide detailed information in a concise
In combination with the credential itself, the supplement
should provide sufficient information to enable the reader to make a
judgement about the qualification and whether it is appropriate for
the purpose for which the holder seeks to use it (e.g. for access to
an academic programme, exemption from part of a programme,
employment/right to practise a profession, etc.). It is not
designed to replace a curriculum vitae but to provide additional
The supplement should always be accompanied by the original
qualification as supplements normally have no legal validity. The
existence of a Diploma Supplement does not guarantee the status of
an institution, its awards, or whether it is recognised as part of a
national higher education system. However, it should contain
information on these aspects.
The supplement should always have the name and title of the
qualification, the name and status of the institution
awarding/administering it, and the classification of the award all
presented in the original language. Incorrect translations mislead
those making judgements about qualifications. Transliterations are
permissible in the case of scripts other than the Latin alphabet.
Supplements should be free from any value judgements,
equivalence statements or suggestions about recognition. Information
in all eight sections should be provided. Where information is not
provided, an explanation should give the reason why.
The production of supplements is best done centrally and not
devolved to different parts of academic institutions. This keep
costs down and minimises variation in content and approach.
Institutions should take appropriate action to minimise the
possibility of forgery and misrepresentation of their
Information on the higher education system (section eight)
should be kept to a two-page maximum. Where possible, information
could include diagrams and charts to aid clarity. As a part of the
pilot diploma supplement project, finalised versions of this
information are to be produced for each country with the help of
national ENICs/NARICs (national information centres), Ministries and
It is best to issue supplements automatically at the time the
qualification is completed. This is preferable to retrospective
issue which becomes more difficult as programmes and educational
awards are subject to continuous evolution and change. It is
particularly important that section eight of the supplement
describes the national higher education structure in force at the
time the qualification was awarded.
Great care should be taken with translations and terminology
as many problems exist in this area. In order to overcome these, it
is essential that the original language is used where indicated in
the supplement.. In addition, the glossary of terms associated with
the supplement has been specifically produced to overcome linguistic
confusions. Supplements should be produced in whatever language(s)
institutions think appropriate.
Where they exist, institutional, regional and national
quality assurance systems should include Diploma Supplements in
their activities. This will help ensure the quality of supplements.
Supplements are designed to be used with sensitivity. The
evaluation of qualifications from another country should concentrate
on the competence, experience and knowledge acquired, recognising
that ‘fair recognition’ and not exact equivalence should be sought.
below refer to the numbered sections in the Diploma Supplement.)
INFORMATION IDENTIFYING THE HOLDER OF THE QUALIFICATION
Provide the full family or surname.
Include all given/first names.
Indicate day, month and year of birth.
should identify the individual as a student enrolled on the
particular programme which is covered by the Diploma Supplement. A
national or State personal identification number could be included
for those countries that have such systems of identification.
INFORMATION IDENTIFYING THE QUALIFICATION
the full name of the qualification in the original language as it is
styled in the original qualification e.g. Kandidat nauk, Maîtrise,
Diplom, etc. If the qualification is a dual award this should be
stated. Indicate if the award confers any nationally accepted title
on the holder and what this title is e.g. Doctor, Ingénieur
etc. Indicate if the title is protected in law.
only the major field(s) of study (disciplines) that define the main
subject area(s) for the qualification e.g. Politics and History,
Human Resource Management, Business Administration, Molecular
Indicate the name of the institution awarding the qualification.
This is often, but not always, the same as the
institution administering the studies and delivering the programme
(see 2.4 below). Qualifications may be delivered
by a sub-contracted institution that has been given a ‘franchise’ or
some type of ‘accreditation’ by a senior competent
authority. This might be the state, a university or a professional
institution. Sometimes the senior authority may be
a foreign institution. If this is the case it should be indicated
here. Also indicate the status of the awarding
institution: Private/Independent, Private and State recognised,
State, and if applicable who it is accredited by etc.
Finally, indicate the general national educational
classification of the awarding institution e.g.
University, Fachhochschule, Professional Body, Technical
College, Grande Ecole etc. If there is a
difference between the awarding institution and the
institution delivering the qualification indicate the status
refers to the institution which is responsible for the delivery of
the programme. In some cases this can be different from the
institution awarding the qualification (see 2.3 above). Also
indicate the status of the institution delivering the studies:
Private/Independent, Private and State recognised, State, and if
applicable who it is accredited by etc. Finally, indicate the
general national educational classification of the administering
institution e.g. College of Higher Education, Private Institute
Indicate the language(s) by which the qualification was delivered
INFORMATION ON THE LEVEL OF THE QUALIFICATION
the precise level of qualification and its place in the specific
national educational structure of awards (explained and
cross-referenced to the information in section eight). The local
educational framework should be explained, e.g. University
Undergraduate/Postgraduate, Baccalaureate + x years etc.
Include any relevant information on ‘level indicators’ that are
nationally devised and recognised and which relate to the
Explain the official duration of the programme in weeks or years and
the actual workload including information on any major
sub-components i.e. practical training. Preferably, the workload
should be expressed in terms of total student effort required. This
consists of the normal designated time on the programme including
taught classes and private study, examinations etc. This can be
expressed as x hours per week for x weeks, or just by using the
normal local description of the length e.g. one year full-time
or explain the nature and length of access qualification(s) or
periods of study required for access to the programme described by
this Diploma Supplement e.g. Bachelor Degree, Baccalaureate
etc. This is particularly important when intermediate studies are a
prerequisite to the named qualification.
INFORMATION ON THE CONTENTS AND RESULTS GAINED
mode of study refers to how the programme was undertaken e.g.
Full-time, Part-time, Intermittent/Sandwich, Distance, including
If applicable, provide details of the regulations covering
the minimum standards required to secure the
qualification, e.g. any compulsory components or compulsory
practical elements, whether all elements have to be passed
simultaneously, any thesis/dissertation regulations etc. Include
details of any particular features that help
define the qualification, especially information on the
requirements for successfully passing it. If
available, provide details of the learning outcomes, skills,
competencies and stated aims and objectives
associated with the qualification.
Give details of each of the individual elements or
parts of the qualification and their weighting.
List the actual marks and/or grades obtained in each major
component of the qualification. Entries should be as
complete as possible and in accordance with what
is normally recorded at the institution
concerned. Cover all examinations and assessed components and/or
fields of study offered in examination, including
any dissertation or thesis. Indicate if the latter were
defended or not. All this information is often
available in the form of a transcript (a useful
format for transcripts was developed for the
European Credit Transfer System [ECTS] (1)). Many
credit-based systems employ detailed transcripts that can
be integrated into the wider framework of the Diploma
Supplement If information on the credit allocation
between course components and units is available it
should be included.
Provide information on the grading scheme and pass marks relating to
the qualification e.g. marks are out of a possible 100% and the
minimum pass mark is 40%. Tremendous variations in grading practices
exist within and between different national higher education
institutions and countries. A mark of 70% in some academic cultures
is highly regarded whilst in other countries it is regarded as
average or poor. Information on the use and distribution of grades
relating to the qualification in question should be included.
appropriate, indicate the overall classification for the final
qualification i.e. First Class Honours Degree, Summa Cum Laude,
Merit, Avec Distinction etc.
INFORMATION ON THE FUNCTION OF THE QUALIFICATION
Indicate if within the country of origin, the qualification normally
provides access to further academic and/or professional study,
especially leading to any specific qualifications, or levels of
study e.g. access to Doctoral studies in Hungary. If this is the
case, specify the grades or standards that have to be obtained to
allow progression. Indicate if the qualification is a terminal (end)
award or part of a hierarchy of awards.
details of any rights to practise, or professional status accorded
to the holders of the qualification. What specific access, if any,
does the qualification give in terms of employment or professional
practice and indicate which competent authority allows this.
Indicate if the qualification gives access to a ‘regulated
any additional information not included above but relevant to the
purposes of assessing the nature, level and usage of the
qualification e.g. the qualification involved a period of
study/training in another institution/company/country or, include
further relevant details about the higher education institution
where the qualification was taken.
Indicate any further useful information sources and references where
more details on the qualification could be sought e.g. the
department in the issuing institution; a national information
centre; the European Union National Academic Recognition Information
Centres (NARIC); the Council of Europe/UNESCO European National
Information Centre on Academic Recognition and Mobility (ENIC).
CERTIFICATION OF THE SUPPLEMENT
date the Diploma Supplement was issued. This would not necessarily
be the same date the qualification was awarded.
name and signature of the official certifying the Diploma
official post of the certifying individual.
official stamp or seal of the institution that provides
authentication of the Diploma Supplement.
INFORMATION ON THE NATIONAL HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM
Give information on the higher educational system: its general
access requirements; types of institution and the qualifications
structure (2). This description should provide a context
for the qualification and refer to it. A standard framework for
these descriptions together with actual descriptions should be
available for many countries. These have been created as a result of
this project and with the co-operation of the relevant National
(European Union and European Economic Area) Academic Recognition
Information Centre (NARIC), European (Council of Europe/UNESCO)
National Information Centre on Academic Recognition and Mobility (ENIC),
Ministries and Rectors’ conferences.
For further details see the ECTS Users' Guide published by the
European Community (http://europa.eu.int/en/com/dg22).
Under the April 1997 Lisbon Council of Europe/UNESCO Convention
on The Recognition of Qualifications Concerning Higher Education in
the European Region" (http://culture.coe.fr), signatories are
committed to making arrangements for providing such information.
usage of terms vary from country to country. To reduce the
possibility of misunderstanding this glossary aims to cover all the
main terms used in the papers associated with the Diploma Supplement
initiative. It is partly based and fully consistent with the
definition used in the 1997 Lisbon Convention on the Recognition of
Qualifications Concerning Higher Education in the European Region..
refers to the recognition of courses, qualifications or diplomas
from one (domestic or foreign) higher education institution by
another. Usually this is sought as a basis for access to further new
study at the second institution (cumulative recognition) or, as
recognition allowing some sort of exemption from having to re-study
elements of a programme (recognition with advanced standing). A
further type of academic recognition is recognition of studies taken
elsewhere in another institution that replace a comparable period of
study at the home institution. This (recognition by substitution)
operates under the European Credit Transfer System ((ECTS) mobility
scheme (see ECTS).
(to higher education) refers to the right of qualified candidates to
apply and be considered for admission to higher education. Access is
distinct from admission, which concerns the individuals’ actual
participation in the higher education programme concerned.
is the process by which one higher education institution gains
authority to award, and/or gains recognition of, its qualifications
from another senior competent authority. This might be the State, a
government agency or, another domestic or foreign higher education
institution (see FRANCHISE). The term has its origins in the
American system and is used in some European countries in the same
way as ‘recognition’.
the act of, or system for, allowing qualified applicants to pursue
studies in higher education at a given institution and/or a given
i) (of institutions or programmes) the process for establishing the
educational quality of a higher education institution or programme;
ii) (of individual qualifications) the written appraisal or
evaluation of an individual’s foreign qualifications by a competent
authority; iii) (of individual students) the actual testing of a
student's ability and skills within a programme (e.g. by
this is used synonymously with qualification.
a body officially charged with making binding decisions on the
recognition of foreign qualifications.
a part of a programme of studies that is normally self-contained and
assessed separately. Complete study programmes are normally composed
of several courses.
a term sometimes used to refer to a qualification (see
the individual who makes a judgement on the recognition of foreign
qualifications (see COMPETENT RECOGNITION AUTHORITY).
the 'currency' providing a measure of learning outcomes achieved in
a notional time at a given level. Usually associated with
credit-based modular courses (see ECTS).
refers to situations of unregulated professional recognition, such
as where no national legal authorisation to practice a particular
profession exists or is required. This is the most problematic area
of professional recognition (see PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION and
DE JURE RECOGNITION
refers to the recognition of the right to work in a specific
(European Union or European Economic Area) country in a legally
regulated profession (e.g. medical doctor). These situations are
subject to various European Union Directives whereby if a citizen is
a fully qualified professional in one Member State, he or she has a
right to be recognised as a professional in another Member State,
including the right to use the relevant professional title (see
REGULATED PROFESSION, PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION and RECOGNITION).
here refers to any qualification/credential. There is a
possibility of confusion here. In some educational systems the term
refers to a specific category or type of qualification. It is
not being used in this restricted sense here.
the European Credit Transfer System (developed by the European
Commission). This is a system based on ECTS credits (workload),
designed to facilitate mobility, credit transfer and the
international recognition of periods of study completed abroad (see
European (Council of Europe/UNESCO) National Information Centre on
Academic Recognition and Mobility.
the situation where an institution agrees to authorise another
institution (nationally or internationally) to deliver an approved
programme whilst normally retaining overall control of the
programme's content, delivery, assessment and quality assurance
arrangements. However, significant variations in franchise
FIELD OF STUDY
the main disciplines or subject areas of a qualification.
all types of courses of study, or sets of courses (programmes),
training, or training for research at the post secondary level which
are recognised by the relevant authorities as belonging to its
higher education system. Higher education builds on the level of
competence, knowledge and skills generally acquired through
secondary education (see HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTION and PROGRAMME
OF STUDY). Higher education normally comes after secondary education
in time and is normally offered through higher education programmes
at higher education institutions. However, it should be noted that
higher education institutions may give courses of study that are not
higher education level. Conversely, institutions which are not
considered as belonging to the higher education system may offer
some higher education programmes. The exact definition of higher
education and higher education institutions vary from country to
country. For example, in some countries, nursing is considered to be
a field of higher education, whereas in other countries, nursing is
considered to be part of post-secondary education without being
an establishment providing higher education and recognised by the
competent authorities as belonging to its system of higher education
(see HIGHER EDUCATION and PROGRAMME OF STUDY).
the specific intellectual and practical skills gained and tested by
the successful completion of a unit, course or whole programme of
the place of a qualification in the higher education system.
Normally, a national hierarchy of qualifications exists. The number
of levels of higher education qualifications vary between countries
and/or kinds of higher education (see LEVEL INDICATORS).
these can range from any general information on the role of the
qualification to highly detailed specific statements about the
nature, skills and competencies associated with the successful
completion of parts or all of a qualification (see LEVEL).
refers to the Council of Europe/UNESCO Convention on the Recognition
of Qualifications Concerning Higher Education in the European Region
adopted in Lisbon April 1997.
a separate and coherent block of learning. Part of a modular
programme of studies where the curriculum is divided into a range of
similar sized segments.
National Academic Recognition Information Centre (European Union and
European Economic Area). Some NARICs also have responsibilities for
refers to the right to practise and the professional status accorded
to a holder of a qualification. In the European Union recognition
for professional purposes is defined as the legal act by which a
competent authority in a host Member State recognises that the
qualifications obtained by an applicant in another Member State are
suitable for the pursuit on its territory of a professional activity
whose practice is legally regulated (see REGULATED PROFESSION, DE
JURE RECOGNITION, DE FACTO RECOGNITION and RECOGNITION).
PROGRAMME OF STUDY
a set of
courses, the various components of which complement and build on
each other in order to provide the student with a higher education
qualification (see HIGHER EDUCATION, HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTION
and COURSE). ‘Programme’ also denotes the academic fields of study
and requirements that collectively define the qualification (see
FIELD OF STUDY).
i) higher education qualification: any degree, diploma or other
certificate issued by a competent authority attesting the successful
completion of a higher education programme; ii) qualification giving
access to higher education: any diploma or other certificate issued
by a competent authority attesting the successful completion of an
education programme and giving the holder of the qualification the
right to be considered for admission to higher education (see HIGHER
EDUCATION, HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTION and PROGRAMME OF STUDY).
Also termed as any higher education award given for the successful
completion of a programme of learning; a generic term that refers to
the wide variety of higher education qualifications at different
levels and across different countries.
refers to the internal and external processes by which the quality
of academic provision is maintained.
a formal acknowledgement by a competent authority of the value of a
foreign educational qualification with a view to access to
educational and/or employment activities. An assessment of
individual qualifications. Such assessment may be any kind of
statement on the value of (in this case) a foreign qualification.
Recognition refers to a formal statement by a competent recognition
authority acknowledging the value of the qualification in question
and indicating the consequences of this recognition for the holder
of the qualification. For example a qualification may be recognised
for the purposes of further study at a given level (academic
recognition), or for the use of a title, or for the exercise of
employment purposes (professional recognition) (see COMPETENT
RECOGNITION AUTHORITY, QUALIFICATION, ACADEMIC RECOGNITION and
PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION). Recognition can also refer to the
accreditation of a higher education institution by another authority
refers to professions in the European Union and European Economic
Area whose practice is regulated in some way by law or
administrative rules (see DE JURE RECOGNITION).
an official record or breakdown of a student's progress and
achievements. Many credit-based education systems employ detailed
transcripts that show the credits and grades for units undertaken
(e.g. ECTS Transcript of Records).
the process by which a recognised awarding institution judges that a
programme of study leading to a qualification is of appropriate
quality and standard. This can be a programme of its own or that of
a subordinate institution (see FRANCHISE).