The procedures used to issue a comparability statement
The procedures for assessing foreign qualifications applied by the French ENIC-NARIC are based on the Lisbon Convention.
What is the Lisbon Convention? The Lisbon Convention is the only legal document on the recognition of qualifications in France and the only legal text relating to the recognition of qualifications issued within the European Higher Education Area. Developed by the Council of Europe and UNESCO and adopted in Lisbon in 1997, this agreement was signed in France on 11 April 1997 and ratified on 4 October 1999. It came into effect on 1 December 1999.
The objective of this agreement is to improve academic recognition and student mobility within the European region, through clear and transparent recognition procedures. Its aim is to move from the concept of equivalence to that of recognition. The main elements of this agreement are:
- Holders of foreign qualifications are entitled to an assessment of their certifications without any form of discrimination
- The procedures and criteria should be transparent, consistent, reliable and regularly reviewed
- As recognition is flexible, only substantial differences can lead to partial recognition
- In the event of non-recognition of certification, the competent authority must justify the reasons for refusal
- The creation of a national information centre for clear and transparent information is recommended
Based on the assessment criteria of the Lisbon Convention, the French ENIC-NARIC has developed and implemented an internal procedure for examining and assessing foreign qualifications and as a result can issue a comparability statement.
The comparability statement is an official document that establishes a correspondence between a foreign qualification and a level of the French national qualifications framework and the European Qualifications Framework. This document is not mandatory and is not legally binding; it serves to facilitate the understanding of academic careers. The final decision in relation to an employment application or further study is made by the employer, the training institution or any other administrative institution.
As a general rule, the comparability statement takes into account the original qualification as well as all the characteristics of the education system to which it belongs (duration of studies, academic prerequisites, etc.).
How is the statement issued ?
Délivrer une attestation n’est pas un exercice simple, les experts du Centre ENIC- NARIC France effectuent des recherches spécifiques pour chaque demande soumise.
To do so, they will:
- Consult official and specialised information sources and databases
- Contact the relevant foreign services and other centres within the ENIC-NARIC network to exchange and share expertise
- Contact the administrative authorities in the country of origin in order to authenticate the qualification(s) in question (if necessary)
To establish a reliable and accurate comparison of the foreign qualification with the French system, experts from the French ENIC-NARIC Centre use an analytical framework comprising 10 criteria based on international texts and the good practices of the ENIC-NARIC network. Two (2) eligibility criteria and eight (8) assessment criteria are applied:
|Eligibility criteria||Recognition of the qualification by the state authorities responsible for the education system to which it belongs|
|Status of the institution in the country in which the qualification was obtained|
|Formal evidence||Bilateral or multilateral agreement|
|Relative position of the qualification in the national or international framework|
|Official duration of studies|
|Prerequisites to undertake the qualification|
|Components of the certification (knowledge, skills, ‘learning outcomes’)|
|Academic or vocational prospects|
|Quality assurance||Existence of an independent and external assessment of the course or the institution|
The comparability statement is useful to:
- Begin procedures to pursue a course of study at a higher education institution, if the latter requests such a statement
- To back up and provide evidence of one’s experience when jobseeking and to gain recognition for a foreign qualification, particularly if the profession one has in mind is not regulated
The French ENIC-NARIC Centre delivers comparability statements under certain conditions
- The original qualification must be recognised by the competent authorities of the country (of origin) where the qualification was issued;
- The qualification must provide proof of academic and/or vocational programmes
The French ENIC-NARIC Centre does not issue comparability statements for
- Qualifications awarded after short courses (lasting less than 6 months, equivalent to 600 hours per full-time semester)
- Qualifications certifying language skills alone
- Specialised qualifications relating to the practice of a regulated profession (doctor, lawyer, dentist, pharmacist, etc.)
The French ENIC-NARIC Centre adopts a specific procedure for the recognition of qualifications held by refugees.This is a flexible and responsive procedure which is based on the texts of the Lisbon Convention (Article VII – Recognition of qualifications held by refugees, displaced persons and persons in a refugee-like situation).
Applications for recognition of qualifications held by refugees are assessed as a priority and are free of charge.
The French ENIC-NARIC Centre actively participates in meetings and events concerning refugees (October 2015 in Brussels; seminar of 29 February and 1 March 2016 at UNESCO in Paris). On 10 March 2016 it organised a seminar on 'The recognition of qualifications of refugees: What procedure for flexible and responsive recognition?'
Please note that the maximum processing time for an application is 4 months.