What you need to know about the UNESCO Qualifications Passport for Refugees and Vulnerable Migrants

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One of the main obstacles refugees and migrants face when applying for higher education or seeking work in their new countries is the lack of recognition of their prior studies and qualifications. How do we solve this challenge?

UNESCO Member States have expressed the necessity to establish a globally recognized Qualifications Passport, drawing from the experiences and methodology of the European Qualifications Passport initiative taken by the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education and the Council of Europe.

Establishing a UNESCO Qualifications Passport will emphasize the role of education in building peace, restoring dignity and recovering livelihoods for refugees. It also meets the need to implement a comprehensive refugee response, strengthening global governance of migration.

A Qualifications Passport under the auspices of UNESCO could become a modern universal tool to facilitate the mobility for refugees and vulnerable migrants with qualifications. In addition, the Qualification Passport could serve as a complementary tool for the implementation of the future Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education.

What exactly is the UNESCO Qualifications Passport?

The UNESCO Qualifications Passport for Refugees and Vulnerable Migrants is a standardized document, which contains three parts: The assessment, the explanatory, and the way ahead.

The assessment part of the Qualifications Passport contains information which describes the highest achieved qualification(s), subject field, other relevant qualifications, as well as relevant job experience and language proficiency (in cases where it is possible to substantiate it and it might have relevance).

The explanatory part contains information about the status of the document and a short description of the pilot project.

The third part of the passport contains information about the way ahead and contact information for the right authorities and agencies, which might be of help in the job-seeking process and application for further studies and authorization.

Although this document does not constitute a formal recognition or authorization or license to practice a certain profession, it summarizes and presents available information on the applicant’s educational level, work experience and language proficiency. The evaluation methodology is a combination of an assessment of available documentation, the considerable experience gained through previous evaluations and the use of a structured interview. Thus, the Qualifications Passport provides credible information that can be relevant in connection with applications for employment, internships, qualification courses and admission to studies.

What the UNESCO Qualifications Passport is not

The UNESCO Qualifications Passport is not:

  • a substitute for identification or educational documentation;
  • a substitute for regular recognition statements/authorization issued by the national recognition authorities;
  • an automatic system that guarantees admission to studies or employment.

The UNESCO Qualifications Passport has a validity of five years from the date of issue. The aim is that within this timeframe, refugees and vulnerable migrants will have the opportunity to improve their language proficiency, continue further studies, to increase their employment opportunities, or to apply for formal recognition or authorization.

Who is the UNESCO Qualifications Passport for?

The UNESCO Qualifications Passport is for refugees or vulnerable migrants who claim to have completed or partially completed studies at the level of upper secondary school and above, even with insufficient or missing documentation. The goal of the assessments is to map, summarize and present available information on the refugee’s educational level, work experience and language proficiency. This in order to provide credible and reliable information that can be relevant in connection with applications for employment, internships, qualification courses and admission to further studies. A UNESCO Qualifications Passport should be issued when the assessment results of the candidate match with relevant criteria and expectation of claimed relevant learning experiences.