First meeting of UNESCO’s New Regional Convention launches recognition of higher education in Latin America and the Caribbean
With the entry into force on 23 October, 2022, of the Regional Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Diplomas and Degrees in Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean, the States Parties and the Committee met in Colonia del Sacramento (Oriental Republic of Uruguay) on 13-14 April, where they agreed on a work plan, the creation of an articulated regional network of information centres on recognition, and a biennial work plan 2023-2024 that includes, among other activities and products, the preparation of a guide for the implementation of the New Regional Convention, which will facilitate the internationalisation and mobility of students.
This first meeting was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay and three other ratifying States (Cuba, Grenada, the Holy See and Uruguay), representatives of signatory States, the Secretariat of the New Regional Convention exercised by the UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (IESALC), as well as representatives from UNESCO Headquarters and the Regional Office in Montevideo and Santiago.
The participants reiterated the commitment to implement the New Regional Convention to strengthen the recognition of academic qualifications, academic mobility and inter-university cooperation between countries, with special attention to the convergence of quality assurance mechanisms and the harmonisation of academic recognition processes.
To this end, they agreed to create a regional network of national recognition structures, an essential instrument for the effective implementation of the New Regional Convention, in order to promote the exchange of information on recognition and mobility, mutual understanding and transparency among higher education systems in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The harmonisation of the recognition of academic qualifications will undoubtedly increase academic mobility and internationalisation and with it the integration and development of the region. This New Regional Convention is the result of a long consultation process which started with the revision of the 1974 Convention in October 2015, in-person meetings with experts, and two intergovernmental meetings of states which lead to the final adoption of the text by 23 States Parties on July 13, 2019.
It is hoped that other signatory States will join and ratify this legally-binding instrument and that in its entirety they will be able to advance complementarity with the Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education, which entered into force on 5 March 2023.
The implementation of the New Regional Convention by ratifying States contributes to guaranteeing the exercise of the right to higher education, ensuring at the normative level the achievement of target 4.3, which calls for removing “barriers” to access to skills development and higher education, enabling lifelong learning opportunities for all people. This implementation enables other contributions giv,en the cross-cutting nature of higher education across the 17 SDGs.
The Final Declaration of this first meeting expressed concern for the youth, who are among the civilian population most affected by armed conflict, as migrants and refugees; because “the interruption of youth access to higher education and economic opportunities has a dramatic impact on lasting peace and reconciliation among peoples”.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, the need to strengthen cooperation to ensure inclusive and quality higher education was also emphasized.
Student mobility in Latin America and the Caribbean reaches only 0.8%, compared to 2.6% globallyUnesco Institute of Statistics (UIS)
- Declaration of Colonia del Sacramento
- The New Regional Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Titles and Degrees in Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (2019)
- The New Regional Convention for the Recognition of Studies, Degrees and Diplomas in Latin America and the Caribbean (2019): a comparative approach to recognition processes in the region
In the Press
- New recognition convention boosts HE mobility, integration | University World News