Confronting COVID-19 by strengthening cooperation in qualifications recognition in the Asia Pacific and beyond

On 11 November 2020, Australia, China, Japan, Republic of South Korea and other Parties to the UNESCO Asia Pacific Regional Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education 2011 (Tokyo Convention) issued a joint statement on Confronting COVID-19 by strengthening cooperation in qualifications recognition in the Asia-Pacific and beyond.

 DESE played an important role in initiating, leading and contributing to the development of the Statement. It represents a shared commitment for strengthened cooperation in qualifications recognition between important education partners. In the year-to-date August 2020, nearly one third of all international student enrolments were from six of the Tokyo Convention Parties (China, Fiji, Japan, Mongolia, Republic of Korea and Turkey). 

 In the statement, the Parties acknowledge the rapid shift to online and blended learning to counter the disruptive impact of COVID-19 on education, and the critical role of the Tokyo Convention in ensuring fair and transparent recognition of studies and qualifications delivered by non-traditional modes of study.  

 The Parties specifically commit to:

·         Protecting the rights of individuals to access fair recognition of their qualifications

·         Strengthening information sharing to support quality recognition decisions

·         Sharing updated information and experiences of online learning and teaching, quality assurance, and recognition approaches

·         Deepening Parties’ understanding of diverse qualifications and qualifications recognition arrangements, aiming to develop a complementary regional approach that is fit for the digital age

·         Encouraging other States to sign on to the Tokyo Convention and the new UNESCO Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education.

 These commitments reassure institutions, graduates, and current and prospective students that studies and qualifications, including those delivered partially or fully online during the COVID-19 period and beyond, will be recognised fairly and transparently. Widespread recognition of Australian qualifications is essential to securing and sustaining the value of Australian education. Qualifications recognition supports global mobility and is a key priority of DESE’s international education work.