Refugee qualification passport: Not just a technical issue

After three weeks of the Russian war against Ukraine, more than 3.2 million people have had to flee their country, while an additional 6.5 million Ukrainians are internally displaced. Poland now hosts almost two million Ukrainian refugees, while Romania has received more than 500,000 and Moldova (population four million) 350,000.

Each refugee represents a unique story of suffering, but refugees also have many challenges in common. They need homes and food, medical care and protection, but they also need jobs and possibilities for continuing their education. Access to the labour market and to higher education, however, depends on what qualifications they have, and education diplomas are often not the priority when bags have to be packed at short notice, if bags can be packed at all.

Therefore, we need to find ways of assessing refugees’ qualifications even when documentation is missing. The European Qualifications Passport for Refugees (EQPR) does exactly that. It could be of great value to the many Ukrainian refugees who have had to leave their diplomas behind.

Developed through a Council of Europe project and based on a methodology first developed by the Norwegian ENIC-NARIC (European Network of Information Centres in the European Region-National Academic Recognition Information Centres in the European Union), the EQPR provides a proven methodology for assessing refugees’ qualifications even when they cannot be adequately documented as well as a format for describing these qualifications so that if and when EQPR holders move to a new host country, they do not need to undergo a new assessment.

The EQPR puts Article VII of the Lisbon Recognition Convention into practice.

This article commits all the 54 countries that have ratified the convention to taking “all feasible and reasonable steps” to assess “fairly and expeditiously” whether “refugees, displaced persons and persons in a refugee-like situation fulfil the relevant requirements for access to higher education, to further higher education programmes or to employment activities, even in cases in which the qualifications obtained in one of the Parties cannot be proven through documentary evidence”.

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