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2013-ECA Seminar January

Mutual recognition and the Bucharest Communiqué, held in The Hague, 16-17 January 2013
Mutual recognition and the Bucharest Communiqué


The ECA Winter Seminar took place on 17th January 2013 in NVAO premises (Parkstraat 28, 2514 JK The Hague, The Netherlands).

Recognition and “automatic recognition” are important topics in the Bucharest Communique. ECA has been working on mutual recognition since 2003 and would like to explore the relationship between its work and the statements regarding recognition in the Bucharest Communiqué.

Automatic recognition in the Bucharest Communiqué:

“Fair academic and professional recognition, including recognition of non-formal and informal learning, is at the core of the EHEA. It is a direct benefit for students’ academic mobility, it improves graduates’ chances of professional mobility and it represents an accurate measure of the degree of convergence and trust attained. We are determined to remove outstanding obstacles hindering effective and proper recognition and are willing to work together towards the automatic recognition of comparable academic degrees, building on the tools of the Bologna framework, as a long-term goal of the EHEA. We therefore commit to reviewing our national legislation to comply with the Lisbon Recognition Convention. We welcome the European Area of Recognition (EAR) Manual and recommend its use as a set of guidelines for recognition of foreign qualifications and a compendium of good practices, as well as encourage higher education institutions and quality assurance agencies to assess institutional recognition procedures in internal and external quality assurance.”


NVAO was one of the founding members of ECA. In the founding treaty NVAO got the task to communicate and coordinate with other countries.


NVAO was one of the founding members of ECA. In the founding treaty NVAO got the task to communicate and coordinate with other countries. According to NVAO an organisation like ECA would provide a better insight into alternative ways of accreditation, supervision and external quality assurance. Of course, co-operation within ECA enhances the legitimacy of the Dutch and Flemish accreditation systems. Furthermore, the international recognition of the Dutch and Flemish accreditation systems would also lead to a strengthening of the international position of the higher education systems in both countries.
Mutual recognition of accreditation decisions should lead to less cross-border checks and bureaucracy; it therefore gives the institutions a better position to realise their international ambitions.

More about NVAO

Although the governments of the Netherlands and Flanders fund NVAO the organisation is totally independent in procedures, methodologies and decision-making. NVAO is responsible for an area where 22 million people live. There are over 150 higher education institutions where almost one million students are enrolled.The quality assurance system before the Bologna Declaration was signed in 1999 had a focus on programmes and was essentially an external assessment of a programme by an assessment panel (of peers). After the Bologna Declaration was signed the governements of the Netherlands and Flanders wished to increase the international transparency of its higher education. Furthermore, in the context of the new European bachelor and master qualifications a need arose to benchmark these new bachelor and master degrees.
The Netherlands and Flanders are among the most open economies in the world and in the light of the internationalisation of the labour market, the governments also wanted to internationally guarantee the quality of its higher education.
The Netherlands and Flanders therefore introduced programme accreditation and made accreditation a precondition for public funding, for the right to award officially recognised qualifications (diplomas) and for granting study finance to students (eg. grants, social services). In addition to programme accreditation, institional audits were recently introduced.
Apart from its role as an accredition organisation, the NVAO plays a proactive role in higher education issues and policies. In the international arena, the NVAO sees itself as an active member of its ‘umbrella’ organisations: globally (INQAAHE), regionally (ENQA) and topically (ECA).



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