Many refugees lose their papers and diplomas while fleeing, but without such documentation it may be difficult to get a job or enroll in a higher education institution in the host country. “The qualifications passport gives refugees the opportunity to use their skills in a new life situation, for the good of the person itself and for society”, says Norwegian Minister of Research and Higher Education, Ms. Iselin Nybø. Now, the Minister increases the financial support and the next step is to make the qualifications passport a global solution.
In 2015, the Council of Europe launched the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees project in the aftermath of Europe receiving the largest number of migrants since the second world war.
The qualifications passport entails that those who lack documentation and diplomas may receive a temporary assessment of their qualifications and education.
The goal of the qualifications passport is to provide refugees with opportunities in the labor market or in further studies, says Minister Nybø.
Increased financial support
So far, 249 individuals have been granted the qualifications passport. By the end of 2018, 21 refugees was enrolled at universities around Europe based on their qualifications passports. Unntil now, the project has been in a pilot phase. Now the project is ready to scale up.
“The possibility to upscale the project is an important reason why we grant more money, so that even more refugees may receive a qualifications passport”, says Minister Nybø.
Norway, together with Greece and Italy, is among the countries that have contributed financially to the pilot project. In 2018, the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research granted 550.000 NOK (approximately 55.000 euro), but due to promising results, Minister Nybø has now decided to increase the financial support for 2019 to 1 million NOK (approximately 100.000 euro). Minister Nybø is also open to continuing funding the project in 2020. This enables the Council of Europe to scale up the project, disseminate information and provide training to more evaluators so that more people can benefit from the project
In Norway, serveral stakeholders, including labor organisations, employer organisations, universities, university colleges and the refugees themselves, are very positive towards the qualifications passport.
Method developed in Norway
The idea for the project stemmed from The Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT) in cooperation with their British sister agency. The qualifications passport is based on NOKUT’s own Recognition Procedure for Persons without Verifiable Documentation.
“We are proud that the method we have developed is now used internationally. We assist the Council of Europe with training and ensuring quality in the process to make sure that the project is able to reach its potential. We are pleased to see that the experiences from piloting the qualifications passport in countries such as Lebanon and Turkey show that the method has great value also in other parts of the world”, says Director General of NOKUT, Mr Terje Mørland.
Today, nine countries participate with their experts in carrying out assessments, and the capacity to provide even more refugees with the same opportunity is steadily increasing. Spain is currently experiencing a large wave of refugees, and is for the time being the most recent country to ask the Council of Europe for help regarding qualifications assessments.
“The qualifications passport project has the potential to help refugees worldwide, not only in Europe. Therefore, I have started discussing with the Council of Europe and UNESCO whether we together could turn this into a global project, and include other countries that also see the great potential. So far, I have received very positive feedback”, says Minister Nybø.