Respect the right of refugees to have their qualifications assessed

The refugees, displaced persons or persons in a refugee-like situation who have formal education from a recognised and/or accredited educational institution and others who for valid reason and in spite of their best persistent efforts cannot document the qualifications they claim, should have a right to have their qualifications assessed by a competent recognition authority.

Determine the purpose of recognition

When reconstructing the educational background credential evaluators should take into account the purpose of recognition. Different procedures could be followed depending on if the applicant wishes to work or to pursue further studies.

Create and use “background paper” as an assessment tool

To facilitate the assessment of the qualifications of refugees, displaced persons or persons in a refugee-like situation with insufficient documentation, credential evaluators should create a “background paper”.

The “background paper” is an authoritative description or reconstruction of the academic achievements based on:

  • detailed information provided by an applicant, regarding the contents, extent and level of education; information regarding professional experience should also be included, especially when related to the applicant’s education;
  • documents and supporting evidence provided by the applicant; (educational documents, testimonials of work experience or any other evidence which may help to confirm the information given in the application;
  • general knowledge of the educational system in the country in question.

The “background paper” may be based on the model of the Diploma Supplement. See chapter 6: ”Diploma Supplement (and other information tools)” for more information.

Example of the overview of an educational background

Educational Background
Qualification Evidence
Secondary education Diploma
Higher education-first degree Student ID
  + transcript of 1st year
Higher education-second degree No educational documents, but instructor’s statement
  + employment contract
  + proof of informal and non-formal learning

Credential evaluators should assess the qualifications on the basis of the “background paper”.

Example 1: Recognition on the basis of a background paper

Alternative methods to cover refugee’s educational background

Whenever possible and/or necessary the assessment procedure could also include specially arranged examinations, interviews with staff of higher education institutions and/or the competent recognition authority and sworn statements before a legally competent authority.

Example 2: Insufficient information – assessment by academic staff

Example 3: Insufficient information – recognition of prior learning