European Qualifications Passport for Refugees
In 2015, with record number of refugees arriving at the European continent, it became evident that the European countries needed to rethink how to deal with recognition and assessment of refugees' qualifications.
In order to support and to ensure that refugees would be able to participate in the labour market and/or pursue further studies in Europe, in September 2015, the two agencies proposed the idea of establishing a scheme called the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees.
Even though article VII of the Lisbon Recognition Convention states very clearly that all the signatory parties should establish recognition procedures for refugees, displaced persons and persons in refugee-like situations, basically no country had made efforts to meet these obligations given in the convention which was signed 20 years ago.
Bearing in mind the legacy of the Nansen Passport for Refugees, set up in 1922, our idea was to establish a multinational framework to organise and establish a fast-track scheme to evaluate refugees’ educational and training background while still ensuring their mobility around Europe.
Our Miracle Fruit
In 2016, the methodology was successfully tested in Norway in a project called NOKUT's Qualifications Passport for Refugees. Crucial in the development of the methodology by NOKUT were Terje Mørland, Director General and Marina Malgina, Head of the Refugee Section.
One year later, in 2017, the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees is being tested in Greece in a project run by the Council of Europe, Hellenic Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs, and in cooperation with UNHCR and ENIC-NARIC recognition offices from Greece, Italy, Norway and the United Kingdom. The first documents were issued in Athens in March 2017.
Central in the development of the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees is Sjur Bergan (Head of Education Department) and Sarah Keating (Head of Co-operation and Capacity Building Division) of Council of Europe, and Magda Trandallidi (Head of European Union Unit) and Maria Fassari (Head of International Relations Unit) at Hellenic Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs.
The resulting document – European Qualifications Passport for Refugees – is a standardised statement, which contains information that describes the highest achieved qualification(s), subject field and other relevant qualifications of the individual. In addition, job experience and language proficiency are described when substantiated and relevant.
The idea is that this information should be accepted and easily interpreted both inside and outside the country in which the assessment has taken place, and the document has been issued. In the long term, this methodology can save costs for host countries by facilitating and accelerating the process of recognition of undocumented or non-verifiable foreign qualifications across borders in Europe - and possibly beyond.
The methodology is a combination of document analysis and the use of a structured interview by qualified and experienced credential evaluators. The goal of the assessment is to map, summarise and present available information about the refugee’s educational level. This will provide credible and reliable information relevant in connection with applications for employment, internships, qualification courses and admission to studies. The methodology is currently being further tested in an Erasmus+ project called Toolkit for Recognition of Refugees, in which the consortium is led by NOKUT.