It can soon be easier for university students studying abroad to have their credits accepted in their homeland. A global convention for the recognition of higher education qualifications is in the works.

Unesco, the United Nation's organisation for education, science and culture, is leading the process of writing the new convention. The aims are to, amongst other things, strengthen opportunities for studying at a higher education institution in another country, promote international cooperation in higher education, provide a framework for quality assurance, and develop common principles for the recognition of foreign qualifications.

Recently, experts from approximately 100 countries met for three days in Paris to work on the declaration. They used a draft written by a task force organised by Unesco as the basis for their work. Sweden was represented by Lars Pettersson, Head of Unit at the Swedish Council for Higher Education (UHR).

Powerful tool for mobility

"It's both exciting and challenging to try and decide on a common view of what a global convention could look like," he said. "When a sufficiently large number of countries get behind it, it will be a powerful tool for increased mobility."

The road to a completed convention, however, is long. In March, the text will be further worked on at a larger meeting and in November, Unesco's General Conference will decide on it. Thereafter, each individual country will make the decision if they're going to ratify the convention.

"In the European region, we already have a the well-functioning Lisbon Convention for the recognition of qualifications. In Sweden, we apply the same principles when we assess education from the rest of the world," said Lars Petterson.

Four million exchange students

Over four million people are currently studying outside their homeland. In 2020, Unesco expects that number to double. It is this steadily increasing mobility that is the catalyst for the creation of a global legal framework for the recognition of foreign qualifications.