Working Group on Recognition 2009-2012
According to the ministerial call in Leuven / Louvain-la-Neuve, the Bologna Follow-Up Group (BFUG) in 2009 established a Working group on recognition.
Purpose and tasks of the working group
Recognition has been at the heart of the Bologna Process since its inception in the late 90s. If we make the exercise of counting the occurrences of the term "recognition" in the ministerial declarations and communiqués since then, recognition was mentioned more than 60 times. Beyond the textual evidence of the importance given by the European ministers to the recognition topic, many achievements have shown how recognition might be considered both as an operational objective and an instrument to pursue other operational objectives, which would enable the full implementation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).
The Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning the ETS No 165 Council of Europe/UNESCO Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications Concerning Higher Education in the European Region, known as the Lisbon Recognition Convention (LRC), and its subsidiary texts is certainly a cornerstone of the EHEA, providing a common and agreed legal basis for recognition in the region but also being the only binding text of the EHEA. In the last two decades, various instruments have been developed, adopted and implemented at the European, national, regional and institutional level aiming at facilitating fair recognition of foreign qualifications and/or study periods abroad. Those instruments are amongst others, the ENIC and NARIC networks, the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS), the Diploma Supplement (DS), the overarching and national qualifications frameworks (QFs), the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance of Higher Education (ESG), etc.
Despite those many achievements, fair recognition remains a problematic issue that needs further commitment of European countries, governments, institutions and other stakeholders. As showed in the analysis of the 2007 National Action Plans for Recognition (NAPs), despite the signature and/or ratification of the LRC by most of the EHEA countries, there are still legal problems to implement the principles of the Lisbon Recognition Convention and its subsidiary texts in those countries that have not amended their legislation adopting the above principles. Basically, the interpretation of the LRC and its subsidiary texts results in a strong variation of the recognition procedures and criteria amongst the countries, impeding fair and transparent recognition amongst the EHEA.
Ministers responsible for higher education in their Leuven / Louvain-la-Neuve Communique asked BFUG of the "To follow-up on the recommendations of analysis of the national action plans on recognition" (Paragraph 26):
- Make recommendations on the respective roles and responsibilities of public authorities responsible for overall higher education policy, higher education institutions, national information centres on recognition and other competent recognition authorities in developing national policies to implement the recommendations of the analysis;
- Make recommendations on considerations countries should include in reviewing their recognition legislation, taking account of the LRC and the policies and objectives of the EHEA;
- Clarify differences in recognition criteria and procedures among countries of the EHEA and make recommendations with a view to ensuring more equal treatment of applications for recognition throughout the EHEA, with reference to academic as well as de jure and de facto professional recognition;
- Explore possible ways to include an assessment of the quality of the recognition procedures of HEIs in the internal quality procedures as well as external quality reviews of HEIs;
- Associate the Working Group on qualifications frameworks in any consideration of the role of QFs in implementing the recommendations of the analysis.
- Explore possible ways to improve recognition with other parts of the world.
Working group composition
The composition of the working group was formed with intention to gather policy-makers (more specifically BFUG representatives) with recognition practitioners (ENIC and NARIC national representatives) international organisations in charge of recognition and representatives of other stakeholder organisations of recognition.
Working group was chaired by Prof. Andrejs Rauhvargers (Latvia) and the group members represented the following countries and stakeholder organisations: Armenia, Austria, Belgium/Flemish Community, Belgium/French Community, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Holy See, Ireland, Montenegro, Netherlands, United Kingdom, European Commission, Council of Europe UNESCO, ENQA, ESU, EUA and EURASHE.
Working group activities
Working group held six meetings.
Working group has submitted interim reports to BFUG meetings at Alden Biesen, 24-25.08, 2010, Budapest 17- 18 Mar; 2010, and Krakow, 13-14 Oct, 2011.
Working group also organised a Stakeholders Conference on Recognition in the European Higher Education held in Riga, Latvia on 28-29 April, 2011 in which the suggested recommendations of the working group were discussed with a wider community of stakeholders of recognition.
16 February 2010 Brussels meeting 1
Discussion of Terms of Reference of the Working group, setting road map and timetable
10 June 2010 Brussels meeting 2
Brainstorming on possible recommendations
21-22 June 2010 ENIC-NARIC meeting Sevres
Discussion of all issues with ENIC and NARIC networks, gathering opinions and information
25-26 August 2010 BFUG meeting Alden Biesen
Intermediate reporting to BFUG
25 October 2010 Strasbourg meeting 3
Discussing and revising first draft of recommendations
15 February 2011 Brussels meeting 4
Preparation of stakeholders conference on recognition
17-18 March 2011 BFUG meeting Gödölö
Interim reporting to BFUG
27-29 April 2011 Riga meeting 5
Working group meeting and stakeholders' conference discussing recognition issues according to the working group tasks with special attention to draft recommendations
19-21 June 2011 ENIC-NARIC meeting Warsaw
19 September 2011 Rome meeting 6
Working group meeting: Discussion and approval of the working group's final report and recommendations to the ministers
13-14 October 2011 BFUG meeting Krakow
Presentation / Submission of final report and recommendations to be included in Ministerial communique of 2012