Renewed Convention on Qualifications Recognition

In November 2011 senior officials from 35 countries, including 25 Asia-Pacific member states, attended an International Conference of States (ICS) in Tokyo, Japan, to endorse a renewed and strengthened UNESCO Regional Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Diplomas and Degrees in Higher Education in Asia and the Pacific (Regional Convention).  The Convention was renamed the Regional Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education (Tokyo Convention).

Since 1983 both the recognition of Australian qualifications overseas and recognition of overseas qualifications in Australia has been supported by the UNESCO Regional Convention.  The growing mobility of students, academics and workers is playing an increasing role in capacity building and economic development across the region, and the Convention plays a pivotal role in the recognition of qualifications.  

In a process which commenced in 2005, member states acknowledged that a renewed Convention presented an opportunity to reflect changes in higher education systems and to put in place practical measures to support improved information provision, as well as quality recognition and assurance measures.  

Measures to support these principles include the provision of information on higher education institutions and programs through development and maintenance of government-authorised National Information Centres (NICs), as well as advocating use of recognition tools such as the UNESCO Diploma Supplement or its equivalent and the UNESCO/OECD Guidelines for Quality Provision in Cross-border Higher Education. 

Australia, represented by AEI, played a leading role in developing and obtaining endorsement of the Tokyo Convention, Chairing the Regional Committee of the Convention, participating as a member of the Convention’s Review Working Group and sponsoring regional workshops to build understanding of the Convention and the benefits of adopting recognition tools such as Diploma Supplements in the lead up to the ICS.  

Australia will also be a leader in implementing the Tokyo Convention.   AEI-NOOSR fulfils the role of an NIC by providing advice to overseas governments and institutions on Australia's education system and recognition processes and is a key source of technical advice in the region and beyond.  It also provides a recognition tool, Country Education Profiles Online, which assist Australian Higher Education providers to make accurate recognition decisions about international qualifications.  Additionally the Australian Higher Education Graduation Statement (AHEGS) fulfils the role of the UNESCO Diploma Supplement, with higher education institutions issuing AHEGSs from 2011.

Smooth processes to recognise qualifications help to ensure individuals and economies can benefit from people working to their full potential.  Strengthening qualifications recognition cooperation and transparency provides benefits for Asia-Pacific countries and will support the long-term sustainability of Australia’s education engagement across the region, with all the human and educational benefits it brings.

AEI will be supporting Australia’s ratification of the Tokyo Convention in 2012.  Information about the UNESCO ICS and the Tokyo Convention can be found at: