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Nordic plan takes steps to automatic recognition

The Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education has launched an automatic qualification recognition service for holders of degrees issued from universities in Nordic countries who are seeking to study in Norway.

NOKUT's new service aims to simplify access to Norwegian HE for graduates of other Nordic countries. Photo: Pixabay/Sorbyphoto

In 2015 ministers from the European Higher Education Area adopted a goal of automatic recognition

Holders of bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees issued from universities in Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland will be able to download a standardised recognition statement to show their equivalent Norwegian qualification.

“Similar initiatives like the one from NOKUT can be expected to be seen in other Nordic countries”

The document will be available to the applicant immediately to use in university applications, simplifying the process, according to NOKUT director general Terje Mørland.

“For higher education institutions and employers, NOKUT’s automatic recognition of Nordic higher education will be an additional tool that can help simplify the evaluation of foreign degrees,” Mørland said.

For NOKUT director of foreign education Stig Arne Skjerven, working with Nordic countries is a natural first step towards the aim of automatic recognition across Europe.

“Nordic countries have cooperated closely for many years in education and research. [They] have longstanding agreements that give Nordic applicants access to schools and higher education on the same terms as domestic applicants,” he said.

“NOKUT aims to offer automatic recognition for more countries in the European Higher Education Area,” Skjerven added.

“Keeping in mind how highly this is prioritised in European educational cooperation, we believe that NOKUT’s automatic recognition may serve as a model for other countries.”

Education ministers from Nordic countries signed the Revised Reykjavik Declaration in 2016 and will appoint a Nordic expert group to report to the Nordic Council of Ministers on ways to achieve further automatic recognition, according to Skjerven.

“Similar initiatives like the one from NOKUT can be expected to be seen in other Nordic countries as a follow-up to the conclusions of this expert group,” he said.

In 2015, ministers of education from the European Higher Education Area’s 48 countries adopted a goal of automatic recognition of comparable qualifications by 2020.

NOKUT said it plans to introduce automatic recognition of comparable degrees from countries with similar Bologna-structures in the European Higher Education Area within the next year.

However, Skjerven highlighted that although several countries have initiatives under way, all EHEA Countries meeting the goal by 2020 is not realistic.

“The need to work on the issue of automatic recognition [has been] further stressed in both the Paris Communique of May 2018 and the European Commission’s Council Proposal on mutual automatic recognition in the European Education Area by 2025 of May 2018,” Skjerven stated.

He expects both initiatives to provide extra energy into the processes of establishing more automatic recognition in the EHEA in the next few years.

In 2016, NOKUT piloted a Qualifications Passport for Refugees.

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