Another Step on the Way to Recognition
G.F. Tkach, a senior researcher of the Comparative Educational Policy Department of the Russian University of Friendship of Peoples.
Keen interest in problems of recognition of qualifications shown recently is caused by a considerably broader autonomy of higher education institutions concerning admission of foreign students, in particular, on a contract basis, and, on the other hand, the flow of CIS citizens going abroad to continue education or find employment that has sharply increased since early 1990s.
Currently, the most elaborated and well-founded international legal instrument in the field of academic recognition is the 1997 Lisbon Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region.
The Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Moldavia have already become parties to the Convention, and some other CIS countries are undertaking measures for its ratification. Therefore, in the near future most CIS countries will be bound with each other and other countries of the European region by the provisions of the Lisbon Convention, which will be the basic international legal instrument in this area in the long term.
The Convention includes 12 key definitions which designate most significant aspects of the recognition process, and, therefore, should be explicitly perceived by all actors, both on the national and international levels. For the Parties to the Convention, these definitions, elaborated based on the analysis and summarising of the many-year experience of individual countries and international organisations, have the character of binding international legal norms.
Among the key definitions in the Convention, special emphasis should be laid on the term "recognition", which, in fact, is the key word in the title and purpose of the document. The Lisbon Convention (Section I. Article I.1) defines recognition as "a formal acknowledgement by a competent authority of the value of a foreign educational qualification with a view to access to educational and/or employment activities".
This concise and comprehensive definition adopted as a result of discussion and rejection of various other versions combines the definition of the essence of the recognition procedure ("acknowledgement … of the value of a foreign educational qualification") and its purpose ("with a view to access to educational and/or employment activities").
The All-Russian Conference of directors of regional and interinstitutional centres of international cooperation and academic mobility and vice-rectors for international relations, held on February 18-20 this year in the Russian University of Friendship of Peoples, discussed and approved a draft Regulations on Recognition and Establishment of Equivalence of Foreign Qualifications Concerning Education and Academic Degrees. This document, if adopted as a regulatory act, will provide for the possibility of evaluation of credentials in district (regional) centres and in individual higher education institutions with further approval of the evaluation results by the Ministry of Education of Russia.
The draft of the new Regulations takes into account various recognition standards currently applied in respect of the Russian Federation. It sets forth the recognition priorities on the basis of international obligations and Russian national legislation. The recognition procedural has been considerably simplified and provides for a uniform certificate of recognition instead of 9 different certificates stipulated under the procedure approved by the Order of the Ministry of Education of Russia No. 15 of 09.01.1997. The new procedure in fact corresponds to the Lisbon Convention and follow-up recommendations of the Council of Europe and UNESCO and also is in compliance with legislation of the Russian Federation.
As for the practical aspects of recognition of foreign qualifications in the Russian Federation, many years' experience of respective divisions of the Russian Ministry of Education and some leading higher education institutions, in particular, Lomonosov Moscow State University and Russian University of Friendship of Peoples, shows that the main problems in this area are still associated with the quality of the files submitted by foreigners wishing to continue their education in Russia. As before, files of applicants from various countries are compiled and executed in different ways. In many files, questionnaires are carelessly completed, especially answers to the most important questions about prior studies, periods of study and selected specialty. It should be stressed that the file completion requirements in other countries are very strict. As a rule, no deviations from the established requirements are allowed, and incorrectly or carelessly executed files are rejected without examination.
Many files do not contain duly certified copies of the basic educational documents, instead academic certificates are submitted. Generally recognised relevant practice, especially where government-provided student grants are involved, expressly requires the submission of the basic educational documents, and their substitution by other documents (such as temporary certificates etc.) is allowed only in case of officially substantiated impossibility to submit them at the time the file is compiled.
G.F. Tkach. Another Step on the Way to Recognition // International Cooperation in Education: Proceedings of the 3rd International Scientific and Practical Conference. - Part 1. - SPb.: Publishing House of SPbGPU, 2002. - 298 pp. - pp. 59-61.
LIST OF ACRONYMS: CIS - Commonwealth of Independent States.
UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organisation.
Notes and reformatting by:
Head of the International Education Management Department,
Institute of International Educational Programmes,
St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University
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