Building peace in the minds of men and women

Global Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications Project

Since its creation in 1945, UNESCO has served as a global platform for discussion on the recognition of higher education qualifications and the promotion of academic mobility. UNESCO has therefore established a number of regional conventions in higher education (see Conventions and Recommendations).

Globally academic mobility is sharply on the increase with the overall population of mobile students doubling since 2002. Today more than 4 million students study outside their home country and it is estimated that by 2020 around 8 million students will be studying abroad.

This significant growth in mobile tertiary students calls for a global regulatory framework for the recognition of higher education qualifications. This framework will reduce the obstacles faced by students, teachers, researchers and job-seekers outside their countries of origin.

In March 2016, following a General Conference decision (38/Resolution 12), UNESCO established a Drafting Committee in consultation with its Member States. This committee will elaborate a draft text of a Global Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications. The text will be reviewed at the next UNESCO General Conference in 2017. In light of the Education 2030 Agenda and current global trends in higher education, the preparation of a Global Convention aims to facilitate academic mobility, improve quality and enhance international cooperation in higher education.

Why a Global Convention is needed?

Recognition (not automatic) as a Global Right

  • The right to have foreign qualifications evaluatedThe right to transparent, reliable and non-discriminatory procedures conducted within a reasonable timeframe
  • The burden of proof placed on the recognition authorityRecognition (not automatic) of qualifications for individuals without proper documentation (refugees and displaced persons
  • The right to appeal

International Consistency in Recognition Processes

  • Transparent information of quality assurance processes for HE
  • Open mechanisms for information about higher education institutions and programs
  • Trust building between different national institutions and competent recognition authorities
  • Greater shared understanding of fair and reasonable processes and procedures for recognition
  • Capacity building in processes

Recognition as an enabler for the quality enhancement of higher education

  • Retaining and attracting talent to higher education systems
  • Facilitating knowledge and skills transfer across borders
  • Increasing the quality of research and innovation capacities
  • Improving the quality of teaching and learning in HEIs
  • Improving graduate competencies

Raising the Profile and Importance of Recognition

  • The High-level focus on the importance of recognition will serve as an indicator of standards of higher education of the Member State


What will the adoption of the Global Convention enable?

  • Promoting international cooperation in higher education and research
  • Enhancing the quality of higher education provision
  • Providing greater opportunities for cultural intelligence, dialogue and peace building
  • Supporting sustainable development of knowledge societies

Background documents



Ms. Leticia Sakai
Associate Project Officer