The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with Europe and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2010) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The Validation or recognition of foreign studies and degrees is the process whereby a competent authority in one country formally recognises the value of a qualification from a foreign country. This can entail total or partial validation of foreign university and non-university studies, degrees and other qualifications. Particularly within Europe, this is covered by a number of international conventions and agreements.
The first generation of recognition conventions was developed under the auspices of UNESCO in the 1970s and 1980s, with conventions covering Latin America and the Caribbean (1974), the Mediterranean (1976), the Arab States (1978), Europe (1979), Africa (1981), and Asia and the Pacific (1983). These conventions are specifically concerned with recognition of qualifications rather than equivalence - there is no attempt to build frameworks with automatic equivalence of qualifications. This first generation of conventions has been built on by second generation conventions, starting with Lisbon (1997) covering Europe and now including the Asia-Pacific region (Tokyo, 2011) and Africa (Addis Ababa, 2014). A major change with the more recent conventions is a shift in favour of recognition, with the burden being to show substantial differences. Only the Lisbon Convention has entered force, with the other two still going through ratification procedures as of 2015.
Mutual recognition of higher education qualifications is enshrined in the UNESCO/Council of Europe Lisbon Recognition Convention, which covers (as of February 2017) all Council of Europe members except Monaco and Greece, as well as Australia, Belarus, Holy See, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrghyz Republic, New Zealand and Tajikistan. The convention has also been signed, but not ratified, by Canada and the United States. Within these countries, qualifications must be recognised as equivalent unless proven otherwise, and assessments must be carried out fairly and within a reasonable time.
The convention established the European Network of Information Centres (ENIC), supplementing and expanding the National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) network established by the European Union in 1984. The ENIC-NARIC network comprises national centres for validation of degrees in member countries.
The European Higher Education Area consists (as of February 2017) of 48 national members (who must be signatories of the European Cultural Convention) and the European Union. It aims to promote mutual recognition of academic qualifications through alignment of national qualifications frameworks, via the Bologna Process's short cycle, first cycle (bachelor's degree), second cycle (master's degree) and third cycle (doctoral degree) framework, the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System, and the use of Diploma Supplements.
The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) is an initiative of the European Commission to provide a "translation" for national qualifications frameworks at all levels (not just higher education) and so support mobility of workers within the European Union. It originally covered the 28 EU states plus Lichtenstein and Norway, but has been opened to non-EU states, with Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong currently going through referencing of their national frameworks to the EQF.
Mutual recognition of professional qualifications is regulated by European Union directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications, modified by Council Directive 2006/100/EC.
The Norwegian governmental authority for accreditation of foreign education of Norwegian citizens and foreigners, NOKUT, has sole power in these matters.
The total validation of foreign university studies and degrees in the Spanish system consists of a complete recognition of said studies and degrees in that system. The Spanish Ministry of Education and Science is in charge of the procedure.
The academic degrees, diplomas or certificates on pharmaceutical or medical specialities which were obtained in a foreign country and which qualify the applicant in order to carry out the relevant professions in those countries can be validated as their official equivalents in the Spanish system.
The Ministry of Education and Science is only responsible for the total validation of a foreign university degree for its Spanish equivalent. Any other applications for the partial validation of studies carried out in a foreign country in order to pursue a university study course in Spain must be submitted to the Spanish university itself.
The US government does not have a specified agency for recognition and validation of foreign qualifications. Instead, responsibility falls on universities and colleges to determine the equivalence for students they admit, on employers for people they employ and on state licensing board for entry into regulated progressions. These bodies may carry out assessment themselves, or contract a private credential evaluation service.
Credential evaluation is also important for those seeking an H-1B visa, which requires a bachelor's degree or equivalent, and for some categories of permanent resident. For H-1Bs, but not permanent resident applications, experience can be counted towards equivalence at the rate of three years of experience equals one year of education.
Recognition A formal acknowledgment by a competent authority of the value of a foreign educational qualification with a view to access to educational and/or employment activities.