Recognition of refugees’ qualifications in Estonia

Article VII of the Council of Europe/UNESCO Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region (the Lisbon Recognition Convention) on the recognition of qualifications held by refugees, displaced persons and persons in a refugee-like situation (hereinafter refugees) stipulate that each Party to the Convention shall take feasible and reasonable steps within the framework of its education system and conformity with its legal provisions to develop procedures designed to assess refugees’ qualifications, even in cases in which the qualifications obtained cannot be proven through documentary evidence.

The refugees always cannot present any educational document, or cannot present complete documentation to proof educational background. In 2016, the Lisbon Recognition Convention Committee adopted a subsidiary text to the Convention entitled Recommendation on Recognition of Qualifications held by Refugees, Displaced Persons and Persons in a Refugee-like Situation and Explanatory Memorandum on the purpose to advice countries in the European region on how to proceed and develop the systems on assessment and recognition of refugees’ qualifications if the qualifications cannot be adequately documented.

On the basis of the above mentioned recommendation, the Estonian Government amended the Regulation on Criteria and Procedures for Assessment and Academic Recognition of Foreign Qualifications and for Use of Title of Qualification Granted in Foreign Education System. Article 81 of this document regulates the assessment and recognition of refugees’ qualifications in Estonia.

The competent body for assessment of inadequately documented qualifications is the Estonian ENIC/NARIC. Prior to assessment of a qualification, the Estonian ENIC/NARIC creates a Background Paper, which give an authoritative description of the qualification or period of study applicant is considered likely to have obtained or completed with all available documents and supporting evidence. The Background Paper includes information about the educational institution, programme and qualification and giving information about the comparison of the qualification in the Estonian education system. The Background Paper itself is not a recognition decision, but is information and advice for higher education institutions and employers in Estonia for further recognition procedure. Final recognition decision will be made by a higher education institution or employer.

The Background Paper with a comparison will be issued within 60 days from the date of application, and is issued free of charge.

In case a refugee qualification can be fully documented, the qualification will be assessed and the procedure follows in accordance with the regular procedure established to applicants.

Application for assessment of a foreign qualification and for background paper