International developments in recognition of qualifications 


We have news of some key developments in relation to the automatic recognition of qualifications, the UNESCO Global Recognition Convention and NARIC Ireland participation in three exciting new projects.  

Automatic mutual recognition 

A ‘Recommendation on promoting automatic mutual recognition of higher education and upper secondary education and training qualifications and the outcomes of learning periods abroad’ was  adopted by the European Council in November 2018. Implementation has been reviewed across the EU. 

The Recommendation addresses higher education qualifications, periods of study abroad, and qualifications in general education and in VET that are recognised in European Countries and the European Higher Education Area for progression to higher education.  

A definition of automatic recognition is given within the Recommendation, as a right for consideration for access without a separate recognition procedure, not including eg the right of Institutions and competent authorities to verify authenticity of qualifications or to set specific evaluation and admission criteria for a specific programme. 

You can read the recommendation in full here.   

The Global Recognition Convention 

The Global Recognition Convention on the recognition of qualifications concerning higher education was adopted in November 2019. Colloquially known as the GRC, it entered into force on 5 March this year, following the twentieth ratification by different countries. Ratification processes continue around the globe.  

Unesco summarises the Global Convention as establishing universal principles for fair, transparent and non-discriminatory recognition of higher education qualifications and qualifications giving access to higher education and offering avenues for further study and employment. The GRC has provisions on non-traditional learning modes, facilitates the recognition of qualifications, prior learning and study periods, including remotely. In addition, it promotes the recognition of refugees’ qualifications, even in cases where documentary evidence is lacking. 

You can read the Convention in full here

NARIC projects 2023 

The National Academic Recognition Information Centre is located in QQI. Apart from our on-line service to individuals, we collaborate with the ENIC NARIC network on innovative Erasmus+ projects to support ongoing development.  

Three exciting projects launched in February addressing the 2018 Recommendation on Automatic Recognition, recognition for access to higher education and for Micro-credentials.  


MARTe is co-ordinated by Cimea (Italy) with partners in NUFFIC (Netherlands) and Ireland (QQI), and also includes experts from the University of Pisa, luav University of Venice and Leica. The overall objective of the project is to support automatic recognition and advance thinking in relation to micro-credentials. The project will map existing repositories of micro-credentials in partner countries and analyse the practices related to the recognition of micro-credentials that are already in place. Using text-mining technology and desk research, the consistency of language used in learning outcomes will be analysed and discussed leading to a report. The third project strand provides for the development of a micro-credential to be developed by Leica as a non-formal actor which will be recognised by a higher education institution in Italy. The project additionally will subsequently test recognition across jurisdictions in the Netherlands. QQI will develop a case study exploring what are the implications for inclusion of such a micro-credential on the National Framework of Qualifications.  

We are inviting Institutions to support us in this project by contributing repositories of Micro-credentials for text mining purposes. To discuss please connect with NARIC. 


ARAQUA- the ‘Road to automatic recognition of higher education access qualifications‘ is coordinated by our NARIC colleagues in Latvia. Other partners include NARICs in Denmark, Italy, Estonia, Malta, Romania, and Slovakia, with sub-contracting to UK and Armenia. Our overall objective is to support automatic recognition of qualifications with particular focus on upper secondary education and VET qualifications which give access to higher education. Information will be exchanged on learning outcomes and quality assurance systems of upper secondary education and qualifications. Qualifications will be mapped and recommendations developed for NARICs generally and for HEIs for automatic recognition in the partner countries. A positive anticipated outcome is discussion among NARICs and HEIs about the procedures and criteria for automatic recognition of HE ‘access’ qualifications. Our national contribution is formally smaller than other partners, and we are called to peer review and contribute to recommendations and country studies.  


OCTRA 2 is also coordinated by Latvia, and is a follow on to the successful OCTRA project (Search | Erasmus+ ( The initial work developed the concept of ‘Course Catalogues’ – part of the ECTS User Guide ( ects course catalogue in practice.pdf ( and developed recommendations that would enhance the catalogues to support credential evaluation  (OCTRA_guidelines_web.pdf ( This matters to OCTRA 2 because a similar methodology will be used and may be of interest to Institutions nationally, particularly to Institutions evaluating credentials from this region.  

OCTRA2 partners also include Poland, Bulgaria, Bosnia Herzegovina, Romania, Armenia and Ireland.  

The project provides an opportunity to explore, for example whether micro-credentials can be treated as ‘periods of study’ according to the Lisbon Recognition Convention (LRC) definitions, or when awarded as qualifications, how they can be recognised as standalone qualifications under the LRC definitions. Practically, the project will further develop the Guidelines on course catalogues to reflect study programmes, courses and micro-credentials, develop Country reports to include the dimension on micro credentials and surveys and interviews with Higher education Institutions on the provision and visibility of micro-credentials. Our primary formal responsibility is to provide peer review and contributions on the comparative study report, and to work with our partners to prepare the final version of the Guidelines on online course catalogues so that study programmes, study courses and micro-credentials are well reflected.  

Contributing meaningfully is hugely enhanced by our continued collaboration and shared learning with the micro-credential community in Higher Education. We will be keeping you informed as this important work develops.