Recognition of mobility experiences

In May 2018, the European Commission published a proposal for a Council Recommendation on promoting automatic mutual recognition of higher education and upper secondary education diplomas and the outcomes of learning periods abroad. The objective is to ensure that every student, apprentice or pupil who completed a learning experience abroad, whether for a qualification or learning mobility, can have that experience automatically recognised for the purposes of further study. Improving recognition procedures is a core element of the ambition to work towards a European Education Area by 2025, where people can have a strong sense of their identity as Europeans, which calls for "a Europe in which learning, studying and doing research would not be hampered by borders."

Learning mobility fosters competences and experiences that are crucial for active participation in society and the labour market. This was shown in the recent mid-term evaluation of the Erasmus+ programme, which reported on the positive impact of mobility on learners’ confidence, independence, social capital and transition to employment. In the context of a globalised education and employment environment, it is imperative that students are able to make the best possible use of all learning opportunities across the EU. 

Consultations with stakeholders earlier this year showed strong support for EU action in this area. Respondents confirmed that recognition processes are often slow, left to the discretion of individual institutions and not sufficiently transparent. Particularly at secondary level, recognition of both upper secondary qualifications and outcomes of learning periods abroad varies greatly from one country to another. Young people who want to study for a longer period abroad during secondary education, or access higher education in another Member State, often lack information and certainty about recognition of their qualifications and competences. 

Proposed Council Recommendation

The proposed Council Recommendation invites Member States to make a political commitment to take steps to introduce automatic recognition by 2025. This will be accompanied by actions that will build trust in each other’s education systems, and support Member States in improving recognition in order to facilitate learning mobility.

In the field of higher education, the Recommendation will build on progress already made in other fora, notably the Bologna Process and the Lisbon Recognition Convention, as well as through multilateral agreements between groups of Member States, such as the Benelux Decision on automatic recognition of higher education qualifications of January 2018. It will also promote further use of existing tools which can support recognition of qualifications and outcomes of learning periods abroad, such as Europass, European Qualifications Framework, European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training and others.

At secondary level, the proposed Recommendation aims to improve recognition processes for upper secondary qualifications giving access to higher education, including those in vocational education and training. In addition, it will promote the recognition of outcomes from a learning period abroad to allow enrolment into the next year of school or study.