Recognition of Foreign Qualifications and the Role of National Qualifications Frameworks in the Recognition
In the week between 22 and 25 September 2014, the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports organized three international events concerning the recognition of foreign qualifications in higher education and the role of national qualifications frameworks.
In the week between 22 and 25 September 2014, the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports organized three international events concerning the recognition of foreign qualifications in higher education and the role of national qualifications frameworks.

On 22 September, a meeting of the Bologna Follow-up Regional SEE Working Group on Recognition of Qualifications was held. Representatives of eight ministries of education from the region and representatives of national foreign qualifications recognition offices (ENIC/NARIC offices) agreed on mutual activities that would bring the region closer to the European policy on the recognition of foreign qualifications and remove obstacles to their mutual recognition. It was concluded that the greatest obstacles to the recognition of qualifications date back to the period before the Bologna process. Considering the fact that most applications for the recognition of foreign degrees concern degrees from the region, all the parties are willing to strengthen the regional cooperation of ministries of education and ENIC offices.

On 23 September, an international seminar was held within the Education Reform Initiative of South Eastern Europe (ERI SEE), in which Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia, Moldova and Serbia participate, whereas Romania and Kosovo have the observer status. The objective of the seminar was to improve the competences of civil servants in the region for aligning national legislations that regulate the recognition of foreign qualifications with UNESCO, Council of Europe and BFUG standards, which is a prerequisite for the enhancement of regional mobility for the purpose of employment or continuation of education. The existing practice in the mutual recognition of the countries of the region was analyzed. Legislative frameworks for the recognition of foreign qualifications differ going from a liberal approach is some countries (e.g. Slovenia) to a rigid „nostrification“ approach in other. Slovenia has abolished the administrative procedure in the process of recognition for the purpose of employment. The outcome of the recognition is an opinion about a qualification intended for informing and advising the employers addressed by a qualification holder.  A qualification holder uses an academic title acquired in the country which grants a qualification. Nostirfication implies the comparison of a study program with the related study program in the country in which recognition is sought, and includes taking differential exams, which enables the use of the academic title of the country in which the procedure of foreign qualification recognition is done. Croatia presented the Draft Foreign Qualifications Recognition Act, which is in the process of public consultation. Croatia retains the administrative procedures for the purposes of employment, but the recognition decision is to contain more information about the qualifications system and the quality assurance system of the country in which a qualification was acquired, meaning more information about the level, the scope and the quality of a qualification. It was concluded that legislative frameworks of some countries need to be improved in the direction of recognition on the system level, by using national qualifications frameworks, diploma supplements and ECTS points without examining specific courses, i.e. qualification profiles.Subsequently, there was an extremely useful session about qualification mapping, i.e. the way in which each of the countries in the region recognizes the qualifications of other countries. It was concluded that qualifications (pre-Bologna as well as Bologna) are differently placed into the national qualifications frameworks of the countries in the region, and that there is certain unevenness in the ways they are connected to the European Qualifications Framework. It was agreed that the cooperation on mapping would be continued, coordinated by the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports of the Republic of Croatia as the coordinator of the activities of ERI SEE which refer to removing obstacles to the recognition of qualifications.

On 24 and 25 September, the seventh meeting of the Regional Network on Qualifications Frameworks for South East Europe was held. The network operates within the Council of Europe, and the seventh meeting was attended by representatives of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia and Turkey. In addition to the latest news on the Bologna process and the implementation of the European Qualifications Framework, achievements in the creation of national qualifications frameworks and their connections to the European Qualifications Framework and the Qualifications Frameworks of the European Higher Education Area were presented. Moreover, workshops were held on the topic of using learning outcomes and the role of foreign experts in the EQF referencing reports. All present members confirmed the exceptional benefit of participation in this regional initiative, as well as the exchange of experiences and examples of good practice, and agreed on the network's work plan for 2014 and 2015. It was concluded that ministries of education should work on national qualifications networks systematically (e.g. in Croatia that is one of the regular activities of the MSES), not only through implementation of partial projects financed from donations, and that representatives from the network of ENIC/NARIC offices should be included in the operation of the network.

By organizing these events, Croatia actively supported the activities that contribute to the development of the policy of higher education in the region, which indirectly enhances the continuation of the process of EU enlargement to the countries of Eastern Europe and Turkey. Since the European Qualifications Framework encourages the governments to make the recognition of qualifications simpler and more transparent, national qualifications frameworks should become main instruments in the procedure of recognition of foreign qualifications in all the countries in the region.