Global Recognition in International Credential Evaluation: Is It Possible? Is It Necessary?

June 24, 2019
  • International
  • International Admissions
  • International Admissions and Credential Evaluation
  • International Education
  • global recognition
diverse group of students talk and laugh outside while sitting on grass

AACRAO International plans to examine more closely the question of whether global recognition in international credential evaluation is necessary, desirable, or even possible.

In our last Connect article on the topic, we mentioned that later this summer a panel of experts will be engaging Fall Symposium participants on the important question of global recognition and how it could impact international admissions and credential evaluation in the United States. Colleagues from several countries will share and compare their own experiences and perspective on recognition topics, allowing all attendees to investigate how and whether global recognition could work in the United States.

Some background on UNESCO

You’ve probably heard of UNESCO: the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. But what does it do? UNESCO describes itself as seeking “to build peace through international cooperation in Education, the Sciences and Culture.”

Since its beginning in 1945, UNESCO has served as a global forum to discuss recognition of higher education qualifications and the promotion of academic mobility. UNESCO prepares and adopts conventions and recommendations at international and regional levels in the field of higher education.

The UNESCO Global Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications

Two of the main objectives of UNESCO’s Global Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications (GCRHEQ) are to:

  • Facilitate global mobility and merit in higher education for the mutual benefit of qualification holders, higher education institutions, employers, and other relevant stakeholders of the Parties to the Convention while understanding and respecting the diversity of the Parties’ higher education systems.

  • Provide an inclusive global framework for the fair, transparent, consistent, coherent, timely, and reliable recognition of qualifications concerning higher education.

What does this have to do with the U.S.?

The goals of the UNESCO GCRHEQ seem generally reasonable and desirable. Yet the United States has not signed on to the initiative.


The U.S. has not been a party to a UNESCO educational convention in modern history. Our system of education and recognition of credentials have been characterized by institutional autonomy and decentralized control of education. States have long held control over K-12 education and curriculum in the U.S., and postsecondary institutions have are autonomous within systems of voluntary accreditation. Local control is something we fiercely protect - the right to make decisions and policies based on the priorities and goals of our states and communities. 

Yet even without signing on to any of the regional or global UNESCO conventions, and in spite of America’s complete withdrawal from UNESCO in 2017 (letter) , the U.S.’ ability to attract international students and scholars does not appear to have suffered.

The questions

Is it reasonable for the United States to think this primacy of place as a study destination will continue, when so many other nations are coming together on recognizing one another’s higher education credentials?

Can we go forward with global recognition? Should we? What steps would we need take? What do we stand to win and lose?

Please be part of the conversation!

We invite international admissions officers, foreign credential evaluators, registrars, and others whose job responsibilities touch any part of the international admissions process, to join us. We welcome all levels of experience, because we value everything from the fresh perspective of new professionals to the depth of wisdom and experience that long-time colleagues bring.

If you’d like to be part of the conversation, mark your calendar on August 2, 2019, for AACRAO’s Fall Symposium, "Global Recognition in International Admissions and Credential Evaluation: Is It Possible? Is it Necessary?" Sign up for updates on this conference and stay tuned to AACRAO for details, previews, registration information, and background information on this hot topic.

If you have questions about the AACRAO International Fall Symposium, please contact Julia Funaki or LesLee Clauson Eicher.


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