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Qualifications Passport for Refugees could open new credit recognition route

A credit recognition pilot scheme has been trialled in Norway for newly arrived refugees who do not have credible documentation, residency or adequate language skills.

The pilot in Norway corresponds with proposals drawn up last year by NOKUT and UK NARIC for a European Qualifications Passport for Refugees. Photo: flickr/European Commission DG ECHO

A lack of proficiency in English, Norwegian or other Scandinavian languages can be a barrier for refugees

Undertaken by the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT), the Qualifications Passport for Refugees could act as a supplement to NOKUT’s existing procedures for credit recognition and will be open to refugees who may not fit into the criteria of the current schemes.

“NOKUT’s experiences show that an expanding group of refugees with higher education will be left on the margins of established recognition procedures in the future”

“The Qualification Passport for Refugees is not only an evaluation of the qualification, but a statement providing necessary and relevant information about the applicants’ educational background, job and language experience for the employers, educational institutions and migration authorities,” Stig Arne Skjerven, director of foreign education at NOKUT, told The PIE News.

“[It is], in itself, an empowerment process for the applicant.”

Refugees eligible for NOKUT’s qualifications passport will be those who don’t meet the requirements for the agency’s already established recognition procedures – the general recognition, which is the document-based method, and the UVD-procedure, the interview-based method, primarily available for those with missing verifiable documentation.

The pilot in Norway, which involved 20 refugee students, corresponds with proposals drawn up last year by NOKUT and UK NARIC for a European Qualifications Passport for Refugees.

The initiative aims to create a multinational, quality assured framework in Europe for recognition of refugees’ competence. In its subsequent analysis of the pilot program, NOKUT calls for the programme to become a permanent scheme and proposes it be adopted by the European commission and other international organisations.

“NOKUT’s experiences show that an expanding group of refugees with higher education will be left on the margins of established recognition procedures in the future,” said NOKUT in its analysis of the pilot programme.

“These refugees with higher education, even with insufficient or missing documentation, will be offered a service from NOKUT to have their qualifications evaluated through the Qualifications Passport, in addition to receiving qualified advice about the road ahead.”

The qualifications passport is valid for three years, and is intended to provide guidance for the first years that refugees enter the labour market or pursue more education.

“The significant difference is that this new scheme is adapted to the needs of the newly arrived refugees”

“In a Norwegian context, it gives the possibility of offering a solution to all refugees, not only providing solutions for refugees who have been granted permanent residency in the country,” said Skjerven.

Weakening credibility of documentation from major refugee origin countries, including Syria, can complicate study and work options for new refugees.

A lack of proficiency in English, Norwegian or other Scandinavian languages, can also be a barrier for refugees, as well as having to flee the country before qualifications are completed – issues which the framework for the qualifications passport is taking into account.

“The significant difference is that this new scheme is adapted to the needs of the newly arrived refugees,” said Skjerven.

“Those without sufficient language knowledge, residency permit, those who need advice and recommendation concerning the way ahead.”

According to NOKUT’s report, by not extending solutions to all refugees, Norway will not be fulfilling Article VII of the Lisbon Convention.

“The article states that the convention partners should also offer recognition to persons in different refugee-like situations, in other words not only provide solutions for refugees who have been granted permanent residency in the country,” it states.

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