UNESCO working on global convention on recognition of qualifications concerning higher education

UNESCO
UNESCO General Conference underway in Paris

Paris (NVI): With the mobility of students increasing manifold around the world, UNESCO is expected to come out with a Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education which aims to improve access to higher education across regions and continents.

The convention, being discussed at an international conference underway in Paris under the aegis of UNESCO, is being adopted as many students still face obstacles in having their qualifications recognized when returning to their home country or moving to a new country.

Lack of recognition of qualifications constitutes a major obstacle in students’ pursuit of further studies or employment.

The new Convention aims to facilitate student mobility and improve access to higher education across regions and continents, the UNESCO said.

The UNESCO move comes at a time when more than half of the world’s foreign students are not merely studying away from their home country, but in a different continent or region.

The global higher education landscape is rapidly changing with increasing internationalization, diversification of providers, and new modes of learning.

Some 220 million students are currently enrolled in higher education worldwide, twice as many as ten years ago and further growth is expected, especially in Africa.

The unprecedented increase of enrolment in higher education in the past decades is matched by growing student mobility, leading to the gradual emergence a global campus of learners, faculty and researchers.

In the decade leading up to 2011, the number of learners choosing to study abroad more than doubled to 4.3 million students – a figure that is conservatively estimated to double again by 2025, a UNESCO statement said.

“The Global Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications will be clear evidence that multilateralism, despite its critics, is the most appropriate system for the interconnected world in which we live,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay as she opened the meeting.

UNESCO has also launched a Qualifications Passport to facilitate mobility for refugees with qualifications. The qualifications passport is currently being piloted in Zambia.

“This passport can play a key role in supporting the integration of refugees by recognizing the studies they completed in their countries of origin,” said Ms Azoulay.

Zambia’s Minister of Higher Education for his part said, “we are proud to pilot the Qualifications Passport for Refugees. We are working with UNESCO to make sure that refugee learners are given a chance to pursue their education and careers.”

By convening policy-makers and universities to this unprecedented meeting, UNESCO aims to foster political will, international cooperation and capacities in higher education to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and gain understanding for the Global Convention’s added value in facilitating this process.