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home > The Lisbon Recognition Convention
The Lisbon Recognition Convention

The Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European 
Region was developed by the Council of Europe and UNESCO and adopted at a meeting of national representatives in Lisbon on 8 - 11 April 1997.

The Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region, otherwise known as the Lisbon Recognition Convention, is the key legal instrument for recognition of qualifications across UNESCO's Europe and North America Region. In 2014, 55 countries signed the Convention and 53 ratified it.

It aims to ensure that holders of a qualification from a signatory country can have that qualification recognised in another.

See below a selection of the key points of the Council of Europe/UNESCO Convention:    

  • Holders of qualifications issued in one country shall have adequate access to an assessment of these qualifications in another country. 

  • No discrimination shall be made in this respect on any ground such as the applicant's gender, race, colour, disability, language, religion, political opinion, national, ethnic or social origin.
  • The responsibility to demonstrate that an application does not fulfil the relevant requirements lies with the body undertaking the assessment. 

  • Each country shall recognise qualifications – whether for access to higher education, for periods of study or for higher education degrees – as similar to the corresponding qualifications in its own system unless it can show that there are substantial differences between its own qualifications and the qualifications for which recognition is sought. 

  • Recognition of a higher education qualification issued in another country shall have one or more of the following consequences: 

- access to further higher education studies, including relevant examinations and preparations for the doctorate, on the same conditions as candidates from the country in which recognition is sought;
- the use of an academic title, subject to the laws and regulations of the country in which recognition is sought;
- in addition, recognition may facilitate access to the labour market.
  • All countries shall develop procedures to assess whether refugees and displaced persons fulfil the relevant requirements for access to higher education or to employment activities, even in cases in which the qualifications cannot be proven through documentary evidence.
  • All countries shall provide information on the institutions and programmes they consider as belonging to their higher education systems. 

  • All countries shall appoint a national information centre, one important task of which is to offer advice on the recognition of foreign qualifications to students, graduates, employers, higher education institutions and other interested parties or persons. 

  • All countries shall encourage their higher education institutions to issue the Diploma Supplement to their students in order to facilitate recognition.

Further information

The text of the Lisbon Recognition Convention and of documents adopted by the Lisbon Recognition Convention Committee are available at “The ENIC-NARIC Networks: Reference documents” section of this website.