Recommendations for Transparency

Competent recognition authorities should:

  • seek to establish the best ways to raise awareness about recognition;
  • seek to align their recognition criteria and procedures with established good practices;
  • make clearly available their procedures and criteria for the assessment of foreign qualifications and periods of studies to the applicants;
  • review on a regular basis their criteria and procedures in order to adapt to developments in the educational field and in the field of recognition;
  • make sure that this information is clear enough so that applicants will have a realistic idea of the decision;
  • provide a description of the assessment procedures and criteria in their national language and in English and/or another widely spoken language;
  • draw up an inventory of typical recognition cases and/or a comparative overview of other education systems or qualifications in relation to their own. If possible create an online database of earlier assessment outcomes (“precedents”);
  • establish anti-discriminatory mechanisms (no discrimination shall be made on any grounds, each application is dealt with in the same way and a fair evaluation is granted to all applicants).

Credential evaluators should:

  • always follow the procedures and criteria adopted by their relevant authorities, keeping in mind that all cases are assessed individually;
  • be able to refer to specific cases/the standard assessment of a particular qualification, underlining individual assessment;
  • take the input of other parties into consideration.

Transparency should guide the work of credential evaluators from the moment they receive the application, during the assessment process and up to the point the final decision is made. On the other hand, personal data of applicants should be protected at all times.

The competent authority should be clearly defined and accessible. Criteria and procedures used to assess foreign qualifications should be the same whatever the country of origin of the applicants.

Although assessing qualifications implies an individual evaluation, identical procedures should be followed and the final decision should always be rational and clearly explainable to the applicants.

Recommendations for Information Provision

Information provided by competent recognition authorities should be

  • easily accessible;
  • targeted at different interest groups such as: qualification holders, refugees, other ENICs/NARICs, employers, public authorities, professional organisations, higher education institutions, mobility and exchange agencies, quality assurance agencies, etc.;
  • user-friendly: relevant and designed for non-expert users in terms of content and language;
  • interactive, e.g. a questions and answers forum, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses provided for further queries. All information requests should be answered in a reasonable time;
  • supplemented with links to other useful local, national or international information sources;
  • provided in a variety of forms: electronically, by telephone, by post, face-to-face, and hard copy (brochures, fact sheets), etc.;
  • provided not only in the national language but also a second widely spoken language(s), preferably including English;
  • regularly updated;
  • free of charge.

Information Provision on Criteria and Procedures

Competent recognition authorities should make available in a clear and transparent way their procedures and criteria for the assessment of foreign qualifications and periods of studies. The information should consist of the following elements:

  • description of the recognition system and competent authorities;
  • description of the assessment criteria;
  • the role of the applicant, competent recognition authorities and the decision-making body in the recognition process;
  • the rights and obligations of the each of the parties;
  • the schematic outline of the recognition process;
  • the list of required documents (if possible adapted to the specifics of each country) and manner of their submission;
  • types of decisions: full recognition, partial recognition, no recognition, etc.;
  • status: recommendation or a legally binding decision, and types of recognition statements;
  • description of the host country’s education system and qualifications to which the foreign qualifications are compared;
  • the approximate time needed to process an application;
  • any fees charged;
  • references to the legislation (national and international, etc.);
  • conditions and procedures for appealing against a recognition decision.

Information Provision during the Application Procedure

During the Application Procedure, the competent recognition authorities should:

  • provide all applicants with an acknowledgment of the receipt of their applications;
  • if applicable, indicate documentation and/or information that are lacking, using the terminology of the applicant’s country of origin;
  • provide informal advice to the applicant on how to obtain the required documents and/or information;
  • inform the applicant about any updates to the status of the application;
  • indicate a deadline to the applicants;
  • inform applicants on delays or issues encountered while dealing with their application;
  • ensure that information is always accessible to the applicants by any means (in printed or electronic form or by telephone);
  • cooperate with the applicant and provide all the required information within the competent authority’s sphere of competence;
  • respect the confidentiality of applications and do not disclose any personal data without the applicant’s consent.

Information Provision on the Recognition Decision

All the recognition decisions taken by the competent recognition authorities should be supplemented with the following information:

  • reason(s) for the decision;
  • rights granted by the recognition decision in the host country;
  • in case of a negative decision, information on the appeal procedure including the path to follow and deadline (see topic 11: “Alternative recognition and the right to appeal” on page 49);
  • measures the applicant may undertake in order to obtain recognition at a later stage;

In addition, if requested by the applicant advice should be provided regarding information or contacts at higher education institutions or other relevant bodies about further study and/or work.

In general, the emphasis should be placed not only on the amount of information, but more on its relevancy, clarity, and availability.

Information on how to get a foreign qualification assessed should be published and disseminated among all stakeholders. A schematic procedure should be put in place by each competent authority.