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Date of print: 19/09/18
Page: http://ehea.hyperion.education.gouv.fr/cid102106/recognition-2003-2005.html

Work programme of the Bologna Follow-Up Group 2003-2005

Recognition of degrees and study periods

In June 2004, a Recommendation on the Recognition of Joint Degrees was adopted as a subsidiary text to the Lisbon Recognition Convention. Governments should review their legislation and introduce legal provisions that would facilitate recognition of joint degrees.
By April 2005, 31 of the 40 participating countries in the Bologna Process and all five applicant countries had ratified the Lisbon Recognition Convention.

Content for Bologna Expert - 19/05/2005
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The Lisbon Recognition Convention

In the Berlin Communiqué, Ministers underlined the importance of the Lisbon Recognition Convention, which should be ratified by all countries participating in the Bologna Process, and called on the ENIC and NARIC networks along with the competent national authorities to further the implementation of the Convention. They also made recognition an element of the stocktaking exercise.

Lisbon Recognition Convention

ENIC: European Network of Information Centres in the European Region
NARIC: National Academic Recognition Information Centres in the European Union

Main points of the Lisbon Convention are:

  • Holders of qualifications issued in one country shall have adequate access to assessment of these qualifications in another country.
  • No discrimination shall be made on any ground such as the applicant’s gender, race, colour, disability, language, religion, political opinion or national, ethnic or social origin.
  • Each country shall recognise qualifications from other countries as similar to the corresponding qualifications in its own system unless there are substantial differences.
  • All countries shall provide information on the institutions and programmes belonging to their higher education systems.
  • All countries shall appoint a national information centre, one important task of which is to offer advice on the recognition of foreign qualifications.
  • All countries shall encourage their higher education institutions to issue the Diploma Supplement to their students to facilitate recognition.

The national information centres co-operate through the ENIC Network.

In most participating countries, it is the responsibility of the higher education institutions to consider the inclusion of study periods from foreign institutions as elements in their own study programmes. It follows from the Lisbon Recognition Convention that the higher education institutions should recognise courses at Bologna partner institutions on equal terms with their own. Recognition decisions should be fair, fast and transparent, as a direct result of the comparability and transparency introduced by Bologna-related reforms.

The Riga seminar on recognition in December 2004 recommended that at the Bergen Conference the Ministers should be urged to amend national legislation to incorporate the principles of the Lisbon Recognition Convention and adopt effective measures to ensure their practical implementation at all appropriate levels.

By April 2005, 31 of the 40 participating countries in the Bologna Process and all five applicant countries had ratified the Lisbon Recognition Convention.

Ratification of the Lisbon Recognition Convention also implies acceptance of the subsidiary texts to the Convention, such as the Recommendation on Criteria and Procedures for the Assessment of Foreign Qualifications and the Code of Good Practice in the Provision of Transnational Education.

Recognition of joint degrees

In Berlin, Ministers agreed to engage at the national level to remove legal obstacles to the establishment and recognition of joint degrees and to actively support the development and adequate quality assurance of integrated curricula leading to such degrees.

The Stockholm seminar on joint degrees in May 2004 was a follow-up of two previous seminars related to joint degrees. It was reported in Stockholm that many higher education institutions cooperate in developing and delivering joint study programmes and joint degrees, but that few joint diplomas were awarded, as most countries had not yet made explicit legal provision for the awarding of joint degrees and joint diplomas.

In June 2004, the Committee of the Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region adopted a Recommendation on the Recognition of Joint Degrees as a subsidiary text to the Lisbon Recognition Convention.

Recommandation on the Recognition of joint degrees

The recommendation states that governments should review their legislation with a view to removing any legal obstacles to the recognition of joint degrees and introduce legal provisions that would facilitate such recognition. A joint degree is understood as referring to a higher education qualification issued jointly by at least two or more higher education institutions on the basis of a study programme developed and/or provided jointly by the institutions. A joint degree may be issued as

  • A joint diploma in addition to one or more national diplomas;
  • A joint diploma issued by the institutions offering the study programme in question without being accompanied by any national diploma;
  • One or more national diplomas issued officially as the only attestation of the joint qualification in question.

Competent recognition authorities should recognise foreign joint degrees unless they can demonstrate that there is a substantial difference between the joint degree for which recognition is sought and the comparable qualification within their own national higher education system. They should recognise these degrees with the greatest flexibility possible.
They may make recognition conditional on all parts of the study programme and/or the institutions providing the programme being subject to transparent quality assessment or being considered as belonging to the education system of one or more participating country.

In order to facilitate recognition, candidates earning joint degrees should be provided with a Diploma Supplement, and study programmes leading to joint degrees should make use of the ECTS system. The Diploma Supplement issued with a joint degree should clearly describe all parts of the degree, and it should clearly indicate the institutions and/or study programmes at which the different parts of the degree have been earned.

Considerations by the Bologna Follow-up Group

The BFUG has advised Ministers to urge participating countries that have not already done so to ratify the Lisbon Recognition Convention without delay. Ministers may commit themselves to ensuring the full implementation of its principles, and to incorporating them in national legislation as appropriate. Ministers may call on all participating countries to address recognition problems identified by the ENIC/NARIC networks. Ministers may express support for the subsidiary texts to the Lisbon Recognition Convention and call upon all national authorities and other stakeholders to recognise joint degrees awarded in two or more countries in the EHEA.

Higher education institutions and others should improve recognition of prior learning including non-formal and informal learning for access to and as elements in higher education programmes. The development of national and European frameworks for qualifications may be an opportunity to further embed lifelong learning in higher education.

Source: General Report to the Bologna Follow-Up Group to the Conference of European Ministers Responsible for Higher Education - Bergen 19/20 May 2005
Bologna Process between Berlin and Bergen

Published: 19/05/2005 - Last modified: 03/06/2016
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The Lisbon Recognition Convention

The Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region - Treaty No.165 was first ratified in 11 April 1997.

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