Over the last decades many initiatives were undertaken to improve recognition. However, despite all the important work that has been done and the progress that has been made, one of the major obstacles for fair recognition currently to be tackled is the divergence of recognition practices among the different countries. In other words, while there is a general consensus on what should be done, this good practice is not always implemented, or is interpreted differently.
The EAR project aimed to address this situation by producing a practical manual describing the ‘good practice’ on all aspects of international recognition of qualifications. By doing so it aims to improve and streamline recognition practices.
Listed below are the three major developments over the last decades on which EAR builds further and which have worked as a catalyst for developments in recognition.
The first has been the creation of the National Academic Recognition and Information Centres (NARIC) network by the European Commission in 1984 and the European National Information Centres (ENIC) network by the Council of Europe and UNESCO/CEPES, in 1994. These networks have played a key role in keeping alive a continuous dialogue and to work together towards tackling recognition issues on the European level in numerous projects, working groups, conferences and annual meetings.
Another major milestone has been the creation of an international ‘legal’ framework, the Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region, also referred to as the Lisbon Recognition Convention (LRC), established in 1997 by the Council of Europe and UNESCO, which entered into force on 1 February 1999. Under this convention, an Intergovernmental Committee was established with a mandate to make decisions on behalf of the parties to the LRC. Since 1999, this Committee has adopted various recommendations. By now almost all countries of the Council of Europe have ratified the Convention and within the networks, the LRC is widely considered to form the basis for all recognition procedures.
Lastly, the Bologna Process which started in 1999 has played a major role in placing the issue of recognition on the European agenda, recognition being considered essential to creating the European Higher Education Area. Within the Bologna Process, the LRC is being regarded as the main international legal text that aims to further the fair recognition of qualifications concerning higher education in the European Region. The Bologna Process has led to many initiatives to improve transparency and recognition of qualifications, one of the most recent of which has been the establishment of the Bologna Working Group on Recognition.