The assessment procedures for qualifications at the ENIC-NARIC France centre
A foreign qualification is assessed using a thorough knowledge of education systems and the application of criteria in compliance with the recommendations of the Lisbon Recognition Convention.
The legal framework
The assessment procedures for foreign qualifications applied at the ENIC-NARIC France centre are based on the Lisbon Recognition Convention.
The Lisbon Recognition Convention
The Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region, known as the Lisbon Recognition Convention, outlines the framework for recognising qualifications issued in the European Higher Education Area. It was created by the Council of Europe and UNESCO, then adopted in 1997. France signed it in 1997 and then ratified the Convention in October 1999. It became applicable in France from 1 December 1999.
The objective of this convention
The objective of this convention is to facilitate academic recognition and the mobility of qualifications within Member States of the Council of Europe and the European region as defined by UNESCO through clear and transparent recognition processes. This ranges from the concept of equivalence with regard to content to recognising the results of courses. The main elements of this convention are:
- That those who hold foreign qualifications are entitled to an assessment of their qualifications with no discrimination;
- That the procedures and criteria must be transparent, coherent, reliable and reviewed regularly;
- That only substantial differences may lead to partial or no recognition of the foreign qualification;
- That in the event that the qualification is not recognised, the competent authority must justify their reasons for refusal;
- That it is recommended to have a national information centre to provide clear and transparent information.
Based on these elements, the ENIC-NARIC France centre has put in place an internal process to assess foreign qualifications and, if the criteria are met, to issue a statement of comparability.
The subsidiary texts to the Lisbon Recognition Convention
The Committee of the Lisbon Recognition Convention adopted several subsidiary texts aiming to support the implementation of the convention in the states that ratified it.
List of subsidiary texts
- Guidelines for National Online Information Systems (June 2019);
- Monitoring of the Implementation of Article VII of the Lisbon Recognition Convention – Final Report (June 2019);
- Revised Template for the Diploma Supplement (June 2019);
- Recommendation on Recognition of Qualifications Held by Refugees, Displaced Persons and Persons in a Refugee-like Situation (November 2017);
- Monitoring the Implementation of the Lisbon Recognition Convention – Final Report (February 2016);
- Statement of the Committee of the Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region on the recognition of the qualifications held by refugees, displaced persons and persons in a refugee-like situation (February 2016);
- Revised Recommendation on the Recognition of Joint Degrees (June 2004, revised in 2016);
- Recommendation on the Use of Qualification Frameworks in the Recognition of Foreign Qualifications (June 2013);
- Recommendation on Criteria and Procedures for the Assessment of Foreign Qualifications (2001, revised in 2010);
- Code of Good Practice in the Provision of Transnational Education (2001, revised in 2007);
- Joint ENIC/NARIC Charter of Activities and Services (2004);
- Recommendation on International Access Qualifications (1999).
The documents issued by the ENIC-NARIC France centre
Since 1 September 2009, the ENIC-NARIC France centre has adopted a comparative approach with regard to processing requests for recognition from those who hold foreign degrees. The person holding a foreign qualification may receive a statement of comparability or a statement of recognition of the period of studies. The process for requesting recognition is entirely online. It costs €20 when submitting the request and €50 at the assessment stage. Refugees, asylum seekers and persons granted subsidiary or temporary protection are exempt from these costs. The ENIC-NARIC France centre only processes one qualification per file.
It is also important to note that the ENIC-NARIC France centre will not assess the following qualifications:
- Degrees issued by French institutes;
- Qualifications achieved after short-term courses (under 200 hours);
- Qualifications or tests confirming a level of language skill;
- Certain qualifications specialising in a regulated profession (e.g. doctor, midwife, dentist, pharmacists, etc.);
- Employment-focused qualifications that do not lead to a degree;
- Professional training that does not end in obtaining an academic qualification.
Statement of comparability
The statement of comparability issued by the ENIC-NARIC France centre is an official document, valid only on French territory, that establishes a link between a foreign qualification and the framework levels of French and European qualifications. This document is not mandatory or legally limiting, it aims to facilitate the understanding of foreign academic systems and encourages professional integration and continuation of studies for graduates. The final decision regarding recruitment or continuation of studies or admission to a competitive exam is made by the employer, the educational institute or the organisation running the exam.
The statement of comparability includes the components of your qualification (title, speciality, institute, date and country of issue, official duration, prospects) and will indicate the result of the expert assessment, namely where the qualification falls in comparison with the French system for certification and/or the European system for certifications.
Statement of recognition for education/training
A statement of recognition for education/training abroad may be issued in the event that the applicant has not completed their course (last year not confirmed, thesis not supported, end-of-course internship not completed). It specifies the number of years of secondary or higher education confirmed by the applicant. The assessment criteria are identical to those used for a statement of comparability and concern, in particular, recognition of the course and the institute by the authorities in the country of origin. The prerequisites for accessing training and academic opportunities must also be identified clearly.
Requests made to the Chambres de Métiers et de l’Artisanat (CMA)
In compliance with the decree of 28 October 2009 on the France Éducation international consultation procedure, the ENIC-NARIC France centre receives requests made to the Chambres de Métiers et de l’Artisanat (Guild of Trades and Arts, CMA) by individuals who want to obtain authorisation to pursue a professional activity that falls under their aegis. This procedure is aimed at those who hold qualifications issued in a Member State of the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA). To this end, the ENIC-NARIC France centre issues a document that lists the following information:
- Recognition of the qualification/degree/certification in the country of origin;
- Opinion on the comparable level of the foreign qualification in France and in relation to Directive 2005/36/EC;
- Regulation on the profession in the country of origin;
- Ability to pursue the profession in the country of origin with the qualification/degree/certification presented.
In the context of this agreement, it is essential that the CMA requests be processed within 45 days.
Cases that cannot be assessed
It is important to highlight that the ENIC-NARIC France centre does not issue these statements systematically. In some cases, the review of a file may result in it being rejected or the qualification may not meet the criteria required for issuing a statement of comparability or recognition of the period of studies. The e-mail sent to the individual/user will specify the reasons for which the qualification presented was not assessed. For example, this may concern qualifications that have not been authenticated, are not recognised by the authorities in the country of origin or a lack of information, making it impossible to assess the level of the qualification.
How the statement is determined
The assessment of a foreign qualification is a complex task that requires excellent knowledge of the education system in the country of origin. Experts at the ENIC-NARIC France centre carry out research specific to each request submitted. In doing so, they:
- Consult official and specialist sources of information and databases;
- Contact the competent foreign authorities and the other ENIC-NARIC network centres to exchange and share expertise;
- If necessary, contact the administrative authorities of the country of origin in order to authenticate the qualification.
To establish a reliable and fair comparison of the foreign qualification with the French certification framework, the ENIC-NARIC France centre experts focus on an evaluation grid made up of 10 criteria established in line with the Lisbon Recognition Convention and good practices in the ENIC-NARIC network. Two (2) eligibility criteria and eight (8) assessment criteria are used:
- Recognition of the qualification by the national education system from which it originates
- Status of the institute in the country in which it was achieved
- Bilateral or multilateral agreement
- The qualification’s place in a national or international framework
- Official duration of studies
- Prerequisite for starting the course
- Elements of the qualification (knowledge, skills, results of courses)
- Academic and professional opportunities
- Use of an independent and external assessment of the course and the institute
The frameworks of certifications
The French certifications framework
The national framework of professional certifications defines the level of qualification associated with each professional certification based on the criteria for grading the competencies needed to carry out professional activities. The first classification of education levels, which dates back to 1969 and has five levels, was revised with the implementation of a new classification from 1 January 2019 that now includes eight levels. The latter version is now aligned with the European Qualifications Framework. These criteria make it possible to assess:
- The complexity of knowledge associated with pursuing a professional activity;
- The level of expertise, which is assessed, in particular, in accordance with the complexity and technical nature of an activity in a work process;
- The level of responsibility and autonomy within the work organisation.
The European Qualifications Framework
The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) was created in 2008 by the European Union. This translation tool has eight levels, making it possible to make national qualifications more understandable and comparable. The EQF aims to support cross-border mobility for students and workers, as well as to promote lifelong learning and professional development across Europe.