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home > Employing a refugee with or without documentation of qualifications
Employing a refugee with or without documentation of qualifications

Europe is facing an increasing influx of refugees seeking a safe haven in Europe. The access to higher education or employment is crucial in order to secure a well-function integration process.

What to expect
Refugees have varied skills and qualifications. A number of those who have a formal qualification often lack authentic and sufficient documentation for their qualification or their qualifications cannot be verified due state of emergency. This may be for different reasons, for example that the responsible authority no longer exists or archives have been destroyed.

Lisbon Recognition Convention

The purpose of the Lisbon Recognition Convention is to facilitate greater academic mobility in Europe. The Parties of the Convention have all committed to satisfactory procedures for recognising higher education qualifications.

The commitment includes procedures for deciding whether refugees, displaced persons and persons in a refugee-like situation fulfil the relevant requirements for access to higher education, to further higher education programmes or to employment activities. This also applies to cases in which the qualifications obtained cannot be documented.

What can the employers do?

A successful integration requires jobs for refugees and others in a refugee-like situation. Public authorities must therefore work with employers tofacilitate good access to the labour market for refugees and others in a refugee-like situation.

Depending on the country, the education institution, the ministry responsible for education or the ENIC-NARIC national information centre will be responsible for the recognition of the academic qualification of refugees. If refugees are unable to provide documentation, their qualifications are to be recognised by using alternative methods.

Employing a refugee should be similar to any other employment situation. Should the employer not be familiar with presented qualifications or for some other reason need professional guidance on a presented qualification, employers can contact the ENIC-NARIC national information centre of the responsible ministry. Employers should have confidence in the recognition undertaken by the abovementioned institutions and the documentation they issue for refugees.

Here you can find further information
Some ENIC-NARIC Centres have put in place models, and outline best practices, such as:
1. Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education - NOKUT (Norwegian ENIC-NARIC Centre). Recognition Procedure for Persons without Verifiable Documentation (UVD-procedure).

2. Nuffic (Dutch ENIC-NARIC Centre). Information for refugees

3. Danish Agency for Higher Education (Danish ENIC-NARIC Centre). Background report on foreign educational qualificationss.

4. CIMEA (Italian ENIC-NARIC Centre). Information on the recognition of qualifications held by refugees.

You may also select a country listed in the right column. A section provides additional information on the recognition procedure and policy in such circumstances, with links to the country’s competent authority Web site.

You may find useful information in other international references, such as:

1. Recognition of qualification holders without documentation - European guidelines for credential evaluators and admissions officers. EAR-HEI Consortium (2016).

2. European Area of Recognition (EAR) Manual, chapter 12 and the new chapter 12 guide on access to higher education by applicants with inadequate documentation including refugees (link to chapter 12 coming soon). EAR Consortium (Nuffic, UK NARIC, ENIC-NARIC France, and ENIC-NARIC Poland) (2012).

3. European Area of Recognition for Higher Education Institutions (EAR-HEI) Manual, part V, item 21.. EAR-HEI Consortium (Nuffic, ENIC-NARIC France, ENIC-NARIC Latvia, ENIC-NARIC Ireland, European University Association (EUA), ENIC-NARIC Lithuania, ENIC-NARIC Denmark, ENIC-NARIC Poland and Tuning Educational Structures in Europe) (2014).

4. Guidelines for the recognition of refugees' qualifications. ENIC-NARIC Networks (1999).