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Prospects of the Recognition of Qualifications

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Kozlov, V.N., Shevchenko, Е.V. Prospects of the Recognition of Qualifications // International Cooperation in Education: Proceedings of the Scientific and Practical Conference. - SPb.: Publishing House of SPbGTU, 1998. - 111 pp. - p. 5.


V.N. Kozlov1, Е.V. Shevchenko2

The problem of the recognition of qualifications has two equally important aspects: а) recognition of Russian qualifications abroad and b) recognition of foreign qualifications in Russia. While competent solution of the first task protects the interests of graduates of Russian higher education institutions on the world labour market, the second aspect is evidence, in particular, of the level of competence of specialists in the area of international education whose mistakes may lead to loss of prestige of education in Russia.
Until recently, the recognition of Russian qualifications in some countries, especially in Europe, met with considerable difficulties, first of all, because of the market-related considerations. A real breakthrough in this respect were the Guidelines for Recognition of Qualifications from Other European Countries in the Russian Federation and Recognition of Russian Qualifications in Other European Countries commissioned by UNESCO and approved in June 1997 in Helsinki. Under that document, in particular, in countries with a two-tier system of university degrees, Russian bachelor's degree (degree of Bakalavr) should be considered for recognition at the level of the first degree, and the degree of diplomaed specialist (Diplom-Specialist) and master's degree (Magistr degree) - at the level of the second or Master's degree.
One of the problems the Russian higher school is going to face in the near future is the recognition of qualifications from CIS and Baltic states. The education systems in these states are being radically reformed: the period of study in secondary school is changed (reduced); different types of complete secondary education are adopted, with not all of them giving access to higher education; periods of training bachelors, specialists and masters differ; systems of assessment of knowledge, skills and competence different from those that had been applied earlier were adopted; almost everywhere the titles of credentials changed reflecting the diversification of the education systems; some countries consider using different alphabets - Roman or Arab.
A body to address the problems of recognition of qualifications is the CIS Council on Cooperation in the Educational Sphere created within the CIS Executive Committee, which in January 1998 examined the draft Convention on the Recognition of State-pattern Credentials, Academic Degrees and Academic Titles. A draft Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Qualifications, Academic Degrees and Titles between Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia was prepared at the end of 1997. The signing of the said documents along with the solution of other problems will allow to proceed to the creation of a uniform (common) educational area, so that CIS citizens could be admitted to Russian higher education institutions not only pursuant to intergovernmental agreements, as provided for by the Law on Education and as decided, for example, in respect of Belarus, but also directly by Russian higher education institutions.
The Lisbon Convention adopted in April 1997 (which Russia has not signed yet) and already signed by Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Estonia, solves the problem only partially. In fact, the Convention recognises that there cannot be equivalent education and calls for the recognition on the merits on the basis of provided information. Despite the fact that responsibility for providing adequate information rests with the applicant, the responsibility to demonstrate that the previous education is inadmissible now lies with the body undertaking the assessment.
The Convention places the institutions having issued the qualifications in question under a duty to provide, upon request of the applicant or foreign institution, full information on the programmes and other aspects of study without reference, in particular, to financial difficulties.
One of the ways to solve this problem may be to issue to every graduate, in addition to diploma of any level, the so-called UNESCO supplement, which provides sufficient and relevant information on the awarded qualification. A decision to issue such supplement can be taken by any education institution that takes care of the interests of its graduates.
The problem of recognition of qualifications and periods of study in Russian higher education institutions related to more autonomy of institutions in formulating education programmes and curricula should be emphasised. The development and adoption of a state education standard would facilitate the solution but would not entirely solve the problem. This especially refers to non-state higher education institutions about 30 of which have already gone through the state attestation process and now have the right to issue state-pattern diplomas and certificates.
Both recognition of Russian qualifications in other countries and recognition of foreign qualifications in Russia cannot be automatic. It is necessary, in compliance with the recommendations of international organisations dealing with education, establish special groups in Russian higher education institutions (or, depending on the size of the institution, appoint individual officials), who would deal with the above-mentioned problems in a professional way.

1Vladimir Nikolaevich Kozlov, Vice-Rector for teaching and methodological work, St. Petersburg State Technical University.,
2Evgeny Vassilievich Shevchenko, Head of the International Education Management Department, St. Petersburg State Technical University.

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