Providing worldwide solutions and services in international education, skills, and development and recognition of globally portable qualifications



Ecctis is a gold-standard provider of solutions and services in international education and training, and in the development and recognition of globally portable qualifications. We are an internationally trusted and respected reference point for qualifications and skills standards.

We are UK-based and operate worldwide, with a global network and client base spanning 62 countries and 5 continents. We have a 20-year track record in international consultancy and development.

Ecctis provides official UK national agency services on behalf of the UK Government in qualifications, skills, and migration:

UK ENIC is the UK National Information Centre for global qualifications and skills. Following the UK’s leaving the EU, the former UK NARIC recognition agency function changes from a NARIC (which is an EU-only title) to an ENIC (the wider European title for national recognition agencies) in order to meet the UK’s continuing treaty obligations under the Lisbon Recognition Convention.

UK Visas and Nationality services are provided on behalf of the UK Home Office. Visas and Nationality statements support applications to the Home Office for visas and for settlement.

The UK Centre for Professional Qualifications provides official advice and support for the recognition of international professional qualifications in the UK. We operate the UKCPQ on behalf of BEIS, the UK Government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

For more information: www.ecctis.com

Charting the impact of COVID-19 on UK admissions and recruitment


[This article was first published on 17th March 2020, but is being updated regularly. Last update: 15th April 2021]

A summary of school closures and exam arrangements.

Throughout 2020 news was dominated by the spread of coronavirus and the subsequent disruption. School and university closures and the switch to online learning have had a significant impact on students, particularly those sitting exams and / or due to graduate.

At Ecctis, since March 2020 we have been tracking delays to exams at secondary and higher education level as they are announced. We have compiled all of the information we gathered on assessment at secondary level in 2020 for over 120 different qualifications into a comprehensive report: COVID-19: Guide to International Secondary Assessment in 2020. The report also analyses the different approaches to assessment and looks at the effects on student performance and grading.

In 2021, education globally continues to be affected by the pandemic, so we are continuing to track school closures and changes to exams. A summary by country can be found below.

As of 8th April 2021 UNESCO found that in 29 countries schools and universities are closed at a national level due to COVID-19. Many others have partial school closures, with a combination of in-person and remote learning in place.

ASIA

Afghanistan: Students returned to school in January with hybrid in-person and distance learning measures, which will continue to until the end of the academic year in June. Exams took place in February/March.

Bangladesh: Schools are still closed. It is planned that 2021 Higher School Certificate (HSC) exams will be held in July / August 2021 and the syllabus will be adapted. Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exams were held in February.

Cambodia: Schools reopened for the new academic year on 11th January following a six-week lockdown introduced in November. Grade 12 exams due to take place in January were cancelled and all students automatically given a pass grade.

China: Schools and universities have reopened in a staggered way throughout March following the new year break. Some university students are starting to receive vaccinations.

Hong Kong: The return to school after the winter break was delayed until 12th February. Since Chinese New Year, the Education Bureau has allowed for up to one-third of students to return to school for face-to-face lessons, with the rest participating in online learning. The 2021 HKDSE exams have been put back to 23rd April to 17th May and assessment has been streamlined.

India: Schools have now reopened in most states. Universities may reopen as long as State Government guidelines allow it. University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines require limiting the number of students returning to campus at once. Universities should implement online/distance learning where possible. Final-year and research/postgraduate students may also return as long as preventative measures are put in place.

The CBSE has announced that 2021 exams will be postponed until further notice. Some state boards, including in Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat, have also postponed exams. CISCE exams have been scheduled for May and June, but a further announcement is expected. Exam timetables have also been released by some other state boards, with exams generally taking place later than usual.

According to the UGC, 2020 university exams should have been held by the end of September, in-person, online or in hybrid mode. There was some flexibility with this deadline, so some students may have received final results much later than usual.

Indonesia: The new academic year started in July with a combination of online and face-to-face teaching, depending on the local situation. Some schools in low-risk areas gradually reopened from July onwards. Most teaching is currently online, but the situation varies according to local restrictions.

Japan: Schools began to partially reopen in some regions from mid-May. The new academic year has started in universities. Some are resuming face-to-face classes while others remain online. Schools have now fully reopened. Japanese students are being strongly advised not to study abroad and exchange programmes have been suspended.

Kazakhstan: Schools have returned to remote learning. Universities are permitted to offer some in-person teaching, mainly for access to labs and for other practical coursework. The Unified National Test (UNT) will be computer-based and held over a longer period of time this year.

Malaysia: This academic year is expected to run from January to December 2021. Face-to-face lessons started from 20th January 2021, but only for students who will take the SPM, SVM, SKM, STPM, STAM or DVM examinations. Primary school and secondary school Form 1 to Form 5 started the semester on 20th January 2021 via Teaching and Learning at Home (PdPR) methods. Form 4 and Form 5 secondary students may do online learning from their dormitories at school or go home and follow PdPR. Matriculation College students are to stay at college and continue with hybrid learning.

Semester 3 exams for the STPM took place in March, after being postponed. SVM, STAM and SPM exams took place in February. New dates for the postponed 2020 Malaysian University English Test (MUET) will be released at a later date by the Ministry of Education.

Nepal: Local governments may decide to open schools. Schools in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur reopened from January.

Pakistan: Schools and universities started to reopen in phases from 18th January. Universities and colleges reopened on 1st February. Educational institutions in some areas with high numbers of cases were closed in late March and will be closed until mid-April.

The Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education has announced that exams for the Higher Secondary School Certificate will go ahead in 2021 in the usual format, but the syllabus has been reduced. They are expected to take place in May / June.

Philippines: Schools are closed. Some schools in “low-risk” areas were to trial limited face-to-face classes in January 2021, but this was later cancelled.

Universities are now accepting admissions for the 2021-22 academic year. They are not carrying out admissions tests for new applicants, and Grade 11 results (along with letters of recommendation, personal essays, etc.) are being used to assess admissions.

Singapore: A-Level results were released on 19th February 2021. This year’s exams are due to take place as usual. Students are now permitted to travel for study purposes.

Universities reopened in August or September, after the summer break, with online lectures combined with on-campus classes. Schools are teaching classes in-person, but will offer home-based learning for at least two days per month from the start of June onwards, in plans to make it a permanent feature of education post-COVID.

South Korea: Schools are now open, but with restrictions on numbers. Many universities began to move from remote learning to blended delivery from mid-October.

Sri Lanka: Postponed A level exams were held in October and results will be released in March. Schools and universities have now reopened.

Taiwan: Schools and universities are open.

Thailand: The first semester of the new academic year was delayed and started on 1st July. Universities started the new academic year in July or August; they are permitted to teach students on campus but many are offering blended delivery. Schools reopened but switched to distance learning for January in areas with the tightest restrictions. All schools reopened again at the start of February 2021, with staggered start dates depending on the region. The Ministry of Education plans to allow all students to progress without having taken the final exams. However, Maw 6 students may still have to take the O-Net test in April, depending on the situation at that time.

Uzbekistan: Most schools have now reopened, with decisions made at a local level.

Vietnam: Schools and universities have switched to online teaching after the new year holiday in response to a third wave of infections.

EUROPE

Austria: Schools have reopened. Only tested students can go back to school. The 2021 Matura exams will begin on May 20th, two weeks later than originally planned.

Belgium: Schools are open but students are divided into groups and will attend school in shifts. Distance learning for half of their students; the other half will attend on-site. All students that attend on-site schools are tested at the beginning of the week. University courses will normally be held virtually, but universities can allow some students to attend on-site, especially first-year students.

Bulgaria: From 15th February, schools are allowed to hold face-to-face classes for all students from grade 5 to grade 12.

Croatia: All schools have reopened with social distancing measures in force. The Ministry of Education has announced that the final year exams (State Matura) will take place from the 8th May – 29th June 2021.

Cyprus: Final year secondary school students are back to school, while others are learning online from home. January exams in lyceums and technical schools were cancelled. Pupils are examined twice per year, so a full review of pupils’ performance for the year will be completed at the end of the second semester.

Czech Republic: Primary and secondary schools and universities remain closed (remote learning) since the beginning of December. Grade 1-2 pupils, and medical students are an exempt. Entrance exams, final year exams, secondary school leaving exams (Maturita), and exams that are nationally recognised by the government are allowed to go ahead.

Denmark: Since 8th February, primary school pupils in grades 1-4 have returned to classes. From 1st March, final year pupils will also be able to attend in-person in some areas, with futher reopening planned for later in the month. The remaining grades, secondary schools and universities continue with remote learning. Exams due to be held in January were cancelled; a decision has not yet been taken on summer exams.

European Baccalaureate: Exams will go ahead in 2021.

Estonia: Schools are now partially open. This year’s state exams are scheduled for April and May.

France: In 2021, students will only sit final Baccalauréat examinations in their two specialisation subjects. Other exams for students in première and terminale (penultimate and final years) have been cancelled.

Germany: Schools are beginning to reopen as the second lockdown is gradually lifted.

Greece: Online learning is in place for Athens and the surrounding Attica region, with more cities also going into full lockdown. Primary schools reopened on 11th January, but have closed again in some areas. A decision on this year’s exams will be made by the end of April.

Hungary: Teaching for secondary schools (year 7 and above) is remote. Only primary schools are open and children below the ages of 14 are allowed to attend in-person classes. So far, there are no plans to cancel secondary school-leaving exams, which are due to take plans in May- June. The structure of the final year examination will remain the same.

Ireland: Leaving Cert students returned to school during the week of 22nd February. In higher education, most teaching is online, with only tutorials and laboratory work taking place on campus. Leaving Cert exams will go ahead in 2021, but students will be offered the choice of whether to sit the exams or receive a grade accredited by the State Examinations Commission (SEC).

Italy: Secondary schools have adopted a flexible form of education; at least 50% and up to maximum of 75% of the student population can return to face-to-face learning, as decided by individual regions. Face-to-face learning is guaranteed to students who have to use laboratories or to ensure inclusion of pupils with disabilities or special educational needs. Teaching in areas with a high risk level will stay remote. Written exams for the Esame di Stato have been cancelled and replaced by an oral exam, as in 2020, but this year performance across the three years of upper secondary will also count towards the final grade.

Latvia: All students are studying remotely. Exams are expected to be held in May 2021. Grade 12 students will not have a mandatory fourth exam in 2021 and 2022.

Lithuania: The government is currently looking at reopening of schools for primary school students and final year students that are preparing for graduation exams.

Luxembourg: Secondary schools returned to distance and in-person learning for alternate weeks for all classes except for first years and final years. The content for end-of-school exams will be reduced by 15%. The University of Luxembourg is delivering courses through a hybrid model combining online and small group teaching.

Moldova: Primary and secondary schools are fully open. Final secondary school exams are set to take place from the 4th- 22nd of June 2021.

Montenegro: All schools are currently teaching remotely. Schools initially reopened in October for students in primary schools and the first year of secondary education, with other students taught remotely.

Netherlands: Primary schools are open. Secondary, secondary vocational schools, and universities are closed with remote/online teaching in place, apart from exams and practical lessons. Secondary school students who are expected to sit final exams are offered some in-person lessons.

North Macedonia: The government is looking into conducting the State Exam in a different way: two external and two internal exams plus a project task. Students are currently being provided with both face-to-face and distance learning. Classes initially resumed online at the beginning of October for older students, with only younger pupils attending face-to-face classes.

Norway: Schools are fully open, but infection rates remain monitored. It is expected that for the rest of the year, secondary education will consist of a blend of online and in-person teaching.

Poland: All schools are now closed until at least 9th April. Matura exams normally take place in May. English oral exams have been cancelled.

Portugal: Schools had reopened, but were again closed in January. Grades 1 to 12 started online classes from February 8th. A special secondary education TV channel has been created and will broadcast content until the end of the year.

The 2020/21 academic year has been pushed back, with changes to holiday dates and exams. The first phase of secondary exams will take place in July (results in August) and the second phase will take place at the start of September (results mid-September). Last year only students wishing to continue to higher education took exams. It has not yet been announced if it will be the same this year.

Romania: Primary and secondary schools reopened from 8th February.

Russia: Face-to-face teaching resumed in schools in January and in universities in February. Exams for upper secondary students will go ahead in the usual format.

Slovakia: Since 8th February, students in grades 1-5 have returned to primary schools, with other students continuing with remote learning. For secondary schools, only students in the final grade can attend in-person classes, except for in medical, secondary vocational & technical schools. Universities are also continuing with remote learning with the exception of vocational/ technical degrees. External exams for the Maturita have been cancelled for 2021.

Spain: Schools reopened after the summer break. Universities are offering classes on campus but some have moved courses online following outbreaks.

Sweden: Schools and universities are open, but with some remote teaching.

Switzerland: All schools and universities have reopened in January with some social distancing and face covering measures in place. The government is currently re-evaluating the current situation, and there is a high chance of end of school leaving examinations taking place online.

Turkey: The second semester has started on 15th February with distance learning. Face-to-face learning for grades 8 and 12 started on 1st March. In medium and low risk areas other students are also attending school for part of the week.

The new academic year started on 31st August with most teaching taking place remotely. Universities are now providing a combination of online delivery and small group teaching on campus.

Ukraine: Schools and universities are now open.

UK: In Scotland, National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exams have been cancelled for 2021. GCSE, AS and A level exams have been cancelled in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. All schools in England are now fully open, as well as all primary schools in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, where secondary schools will also return full-time after the Easter break.

AFRICA

Algeria: Schools and universities are currently closed. Exams for the Baccalaureat took place in September. The start of the new academic year was put back until December 2020. Some universities did not complete exams for the past academic year until November.

Botswana: Schools have fully reopened.

Egypt: Attending school in-person for the second semester starting 10th March will be optional. University students will return to in-person learning from February 27th. The exams for semesters for grade 9 and grade 12 will be both held at the end of the academic year. Students of grades 9 and 12 grades will also take experimental exams from home in April. Final exams for grade 12 will be held electronically at schools and are not likely to start before July.

Ethiopia: Schools are now open. The 2020 University Entrance Examination was held in February 2021.

Ghana: Schools are now partially open. There are discussions about rescheduling the 2021 WASSCE for Sept / Oct 2021.

Kenya: Schools are open for some students. KCSE exams were originally scheduled for November, but have been postponed and will begin on 26th March 2021.

Malawi: Schools reopened from 22nd February. Schools initially reopened gradually from September, but classes were suspended again in January.

Morocco: Schools reopened in September, with a combination of online and face-to-face teaching. Universities reopened in October, offering online, in-person or hybrid teaching options for students.

Mozambique: Schools reopened for the new school year on 20th March.

Nigeria: Schools resumed and universities and colleges opened for students in January.

South Africa: Students returned to school on 15th February. The new academic year for universities will start in March. The current one will be concluded between December and March, depending on the institution.

Tunisia: Schools reopened and universities adopted a hybrid delivery model for the new academic year. However, classes and exams in universities were suspended towards the end of 2020 due a rise in Covid-19 cases.

Uganda: Universities will gradually reopen from March. Schools reopened for exam classes from October and other students will start to return once exams are completed in April.

Zambia: Schools and universities have fully reopened.

Zimbabwe: A level exams in June 2021 have been cancelled. Results for the November 2021 exams have not yet been released.

MIDDLE EAST

Bahrain: All schools switched back to remote learning at the end of January and will continue to teach remotely until at least mid-March. The University of Bahrain is teaching online, except for practical subjects that require use of labs and technical equipment.

Israel: Schools reopened for the new academic year, but were closed again due to an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Jordan: Schools began to reopen in February; universities are closed and teaching remotely.

Kuwait: Schools are teaching remotely. There were no schools exams for the first semester of the 2020-21 academic year. Kuwait University resumed the 2019-20 academic year online in August.

Lebanon: Schools reopened for the new academic year in October.

Oman: Schools are partially open and offering blended delivery. Universities are teaching online, but students may have access to laboratories.

Qatar: Schools and universities are teaching through blended learning for the first semester of the 2020-21 academic year.

Saudi Arabia: Schools continue to teach online.

United Arab Emirates: Schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are open for students to attend but there is the option of distance learning. Schools in other emirates are currently teaching remotely.

AMERICAS

Bolivia: Schools began to reopen in February.

Brazil: The ENEM, which was due to take place at the start of November, was held in January / February. Most schools and universities remain closed, but reopening is being decided at state level with some states now allowing face-to-face teaching.

Canada: Schools in Quebec reopened in August; schools in other provinces started to reopen in September. Arrangements vary between provinces, with some still providing online or blended learning, and others opening schools for all students full-time.

Caribbean: CXC May/June written examinations are expected to begin on Monday 3rd May 2021.

Chile: Schools and universities are currently closed.

Mexico: Schools and universities are closed. Schools are teaching via distance learning. Universities are permitted to make their own decisions about when to reopen and how to deliver courses, in line with any national guidelines.

Uruguay: Schools are open.

USA: Some schools are open, others are teaching remotely. Some universities and colleges have reopened; a number have closed again following outbreaks on campus.

Some dates have been announced for the SAT between March and December 2021. The ACT is due to take place on February 6th, April 17th, June 12th, June 17th 2021. AP exams are scheduled to take place between May 3rd and June 11th.

AUSTRALASIA

Australia: Schools are open.

New Zealand: Schools are open.

OTHER

Cambridge International: 2021 exams will go ahead. All Cambridge IGCSE, International AS and A level and Pre-U exams worldwide in May and June 2020 were cancelled.

International Baccalaureate: In 2021, two assessment routes will be available (an examination route and a non-examination route) depending on whether schools in different countries are able to administer exams safely. Exams due to take place in May 2020 were cancelled. Results, based on coursework and teacher assessment, were released on 6th July.

OxfordAQA: OxfordAQA exams in May / June 2021 have been cancelled. All exams for International GCSE, AS and A level qualifications in May and June 2020 were cancelled.

Pearson: International GCSE, AS and A level exams will not go ahead in May / June 2021. All International GCSE, AS and A level exams globally, due to be held in May and June 2020, were cancelled.

English language tests

One of the other principal challenges faced by students and admitting universities alike, will be access to Secure English Language Tests for visa purposes, as individuals are required to have attended an approved test centre.

Some SELT test providers are maintaining a list of current test centre closures. You can find out the latest through the dedicated COVID-19 pages on their websites:

Other English language test providers are also maintaining updates on their websites:

Further information

Further information on the resources available from Ecctis to support our member organisations and diverse stakeholders across the globe can be found here.

Changes to the UK immigration system: introducing UK NARIC’s new Visas and Nationality services


From 1 January 2021, the UK will put in place a general end to free movement, and implement a new points-based immigration system, which will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally.

New routes in this points-based system will be open for applications later this year, replacing most of the existing UK immigration tiers.

To support the immigration requirements under the new system, UK NARIC has launched three new Visas and Nationality services, and all of these are now open for applications:

  • Visas and Nationality (English proficiency)
  • Visas and Nationality (PhD verification)
  • Visas and Nationality (PhD verification with English proficiency).

These services have been developed in conjunction with the UK Home Office and will replace the existing UK NARIC Visas and Nationality service.

What are the differences between the three services?

Visas and Nationality (English proficiency)

The Visas and Nationality (English proficiency) service allows an individual to use their Bachelor, Master’s or PhD degree(s) to demonstrate the level of their qualification and their English proficiency for a UK visa application.

Visas and Nationality (PhD verification) and Visas and Nationality (PhD verification with English proficiency)

The PhD verification and PhD verification with English proficiency services are designed for applicants to the new Skilled Worker immigration route, who want to use their PhD for tradeable points.

The PhD verification service will provide confirmation of the academic level of an individual’s PhD and a primary source verification check, which verifies that PhD qualification is genuine. You do not need to have studied your PhD in English to apply for this service.

The PhD verification with English proficiency service includes all of the above, as well as information regarding English language proficiency. If an applicant’s PhD was not studied in English but they studied a Bachelor or Master’s degree in English, we can provide English proficiency information for their other degrees.

How does it work?

Applicants can apply online. Applicants will need to answer questions regarding their circumstances and upload their documents. The documents we ask for may vary, depending on the service and an applicant’s situation.

Where can I get more information?

You can find out more about these different services on the UK NARIC website.


COVID-19’s cancelled exams and grading issues create admissions challenges for universities


In almost every country, education has been disrupted by COVID-19. There have been widespread school and university closures, and a shift to online learning.

This blog looks at the question of qualification verification, and the additional challenges that arise from the educational consequences of COVID: missing or delayed exam results; variations in qualification documentation; and uncertainties over modified assessments and estimated grades.

UK NARIC has a specialised verification service – Qualification Checked At Source (QCAS) – which might help in cases like this.

Supporting a flexible approach

Over the last few months, final year students have faced uncertainty as they were preparing for their final exams. Would the exams go ahead or not? If not, how would they be assessed? When would they be able to graduate?

This uncertainty has also presented challenges for universities admitting students for further study, and has made it more difficult to confirm places for incoming students for the new academic year.

Admitting institutions want and need to be flexible, and ensure that students who have faced difficult circumstances over the past few months are not disadvantaged by factors beyond their control.

The key challenge is to ensure fairness to students and build flexibility into processes, while at the same time ensuring that sufficient evidence has been obtained to prove that students meet the requirements for admission.

Verifying qualifications with the awarding institution, using UK NARIC’s QCAS service, can confirm graduation and attendance. In many cases, even if an applicant has been unable to produce the documents usually required, qualifications can still be verified at source.

Removing uncertainty

The global situation is still shifting, with national and local lockdowns, gradual reopening of educational institutions in some countries, and continued closures and online delivery in others. Even within a single country, the situation may vary between regions or even between universities. In many countries, universities have a high degree of autonomy to set their own policies, so there is not one unified national approach. This makes it difficult to track developments or understand the situations faced by different applicants.

Example: An applicant from Egypt claims she is unable to provide her degree certificate and transcripts because graduation has been delayed due to COVID-19.

This is quite possible; many universities in Egypt have delayed final exams rather than using alternative means of assessment. Some exams may take place as late as September, leading to certificates being issued much later than usual. However, the situation and the timing may vary between institutions. The QCAS service can check whether a student has graduated and confirm their attendance at their institution.

Protecting against fraud

Verification is often sought in cases that raise doubts or concerns, perhaps because documents are not consistent with previous examples of the same qualification, or because there are anomalies on the transcripts.

This is likely to be more common in documents for qualifications awarded in 2020, with disruption due to COVID-19 given as the reason for any inconsistencies.

Example: An applicant from India claims his transcript looks different to those from previous years because there are no exam grades listed for the final semester. The exams were cancelled due to the pandemic.

Many university exams were cancelled across India and students have been graded based on past performance and internal assessment. It is possible that in some cases transcripts will look incomplete or different. Documents from Indian universities vary.

Example: An applicant from the USA claims she was given full marks for some modules because the final exams were cancelled.

Universities across the world have tried to ensure that students are assessed fairly and that their degrees will not be viewed any differently to other cohorts, so this would be highly unusual. However, approaches to grading and assessment may have been different to previous years. Some universities and colleges in the US did use a pass-fail grading system for courses taken in the spring semester this year so students would not be disadvantaged. In some cases this was optional; in others it was mandatory.

Fraud is a serious and growing problem in normal times. The uncertainty and disruption created by COVID-19 may provide a convenient smokescreen for those attempting to make fraudulent applications. QCAS is a valuable tool to protect against fraud as qualifications are verified directly with the awarding institution.

Finding out more about verification

If you are interested in further information about UK NARIC’s QCAS service, please email jasmine.bryan@naric.org.uk

Europass launches new e-portfolio website


Europass has launched its new, completely redesigned website to reflect significant new developments and progress in the Europass service offer. The free Europass resources now offer people the chance to create their own online portfolio, known as the e-portfolio, to show their education and employment history as well as other achievements in a format which will be widely recognised and accepted across Europe. Users will also be able to receive alerts of potential jobs and courses from across Europe.

This represents a considerable step forward in the Europass concept, moving from a static, physical CV, to a more dynamic online representation of an individual’s lifelong learning. The new platform will ensure that resumés and cover letters are more accessible for employers, education and training providers, and other support services, as well as giving them the chance to authenticate qualifications and compare them to the relevant national framework. It is also hoped that the new website and platform will be more streamlined in practical use.

The New Europass is

The new Europass is a free set of online tools and information that help you to manage your career throughout your life. The new platform includes:

Europass for individual end-users

  • Search for jobs and courses across Europe
  • Create your free Europass profile to manage your learning and working in Europe
  • Register to create a profile and receive suggestions of courses based on your skills and interests
  • Highlight your skills, qualifications and experiences so they are understood across  the EU
  • Find trusted national information and contact points on working and learning
  • Safely manage and store all your career-related information in one EU tool
  • Design and store your CVs and cover letter
  • Receive and share digital degrees, diplomas and certificates from education and training institutions safely and free of charge with Europass Digital Credentials
  • All Europass tools and information are available in 29 European languages

Europass for employers

  • Support your recruitment and staff development needs
  • Receive structured data and information directly from candidates/applicants
  • You can use the free Europass profile and tools to support staff to record their professional development and reflect on their skills/needs
  • You can receive and authenticate trustworthy Europass Digital Credentials, eg. degrees, diplomas and certificates from education and training institutions
  • You can access trustworthy information on skills and qualifications in Europe, including comparing and understanding qualifications frameworks and systems

Europass for education and training providers

  • The new Europass supports your learners and helps you understand skills and qualifications in Europe
  • You can receive structured data and information directly from applicants
  • You can use the free Europass profile to support students to record their formal, non-formal and informal learning during their studies, to reflect on their learning, and to store their files and diplomas
  • You can issue, receive and authenticate trustworthy Europass Digital Credentials, degrees, diplomas and certificates from education and training institutions
  • You can access trustworthy information on skills and qualifications in Europe, including comparing and understanding qualifications frameworks and systems
  • You can issue Europass documents such as Qualification Supplements and Europass Mobility to help people to communicate their skills, qualifications and experiences

Europass for guidance and support services

  • The new Europass supports transparency and understanding of skills and qualifications in Europe
  • Europass tools communicate skills and qualifications to support lifelong leaning or the transitions between work and learning
  • You are an essential part of building and implementing Europass
  • You can guide and support clients to manage their learning and careers

You can create your Europass e-portfolio by visiting the Europass website.

To find out more, you can contact info@europass.org.uk

Europass Mobility: document your knowledge and skills


What is it?

Europass Mobility is a document that is designed to display knowledge and skills achieved while learning or studying in another European country. It was designed to complement, and record Erasmus+ (and its predecessor programmes) placements.

Europass Mobility documents any period of time spent learning or studying, such as:

  • a work placement in a company
  • an academic term as part of an exchange programme
  • a voluntary placement in an NGO

Who is it for?

Any person moving to a European country to learn or acquire work experience, whatever their age or level of education.

Who completes it?

Two partner organisations are involved in the mobility project. The first, in the country of origin (sending partner) and the second, in the host country (host partner).

The partners may be universities, schools, training centres, companies, NGOs, etc.

Where can it be obtained?

In the United Kingdom, the sending partner registers using the Europass Mobility Registration System. This can be found on our website here.

The full process of you can be found here.

If you are host partner, then the sending partner will need to register with their Europass Centre, the contact details for which can be found here.

Please contact the organisation sending you abroad and ask them to contact their National Europass Centre. The UK National Europass Centre can be contacted at: info@europass.org.uk

From cloud computing to wind power technology: the Double High initiative and opportunities for Sino-British partnerships in the TVET sector


Regular readers may already be familiar with the “Double World-Class” project, launched in 2017 to raise the standards of China’s elite universities. Now, with the unveiling of the “Double High” plan, the Chinese government has turned its attention to the often overlooked technical and vocational education and training (TVET) sector.

The Double High plan aims to develop world-leading training providers in a wide range of fields and has a strong focus on internationalisation, offering new opportunities for international partnerships.

A large proportion of the TVET sector is made up of sub-degree institutions teaching up to junior college diploma (zhuanke / specialist) level. These vocational colleges have tended to be viewed as the poor relations of the degree-awarding universities and institutes which attract the brightest and best. The Double High plan aims to raise the status of these colleges both nationally and globally.

Double High

“Double High” stands for high­ level, higher vocational institutions. In December 2019, the Chinese Ministry of Education announced 197 vocational colleges and 135 key subject areas selected under the plan. Colleges awarded Double High status receive extra funding and support to develop key subject areas of strategic importance for China’s development goals.

Colleges were selected according to a wide range of criteria, including cooperation with industry, financial transparency, governance, graduate employability, performance in national teaching award competitions, quality assurance, and subject focus. Subject focus is critical, because the aim of the Double High plan is for the chosen colleges to become world-leading training providers in cutting edge technical fields. These fields include subjects as wide ranging as:

  • Big data technology
  • Care of the elderly services
  • E-commerce
  • High speed rail engineering
  • Intelligent control technology
  • New energy vehicle technology
  • Polymer materials processing
  • Recreational agriculture (agritourism)
  • Seed production technology
  • Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology.

Opportunities for partnerships

Under the Double High plan, cooperation with overseas institutions is particularly encouraged. The aim is to help colleges move towards international standards in industry collaboration and teaching. Teacher and student exchanges, progression agreements, and sharing of expertise in the areas of apprenticeships, entrepreneurship, and teaching and assessment, are all welcomed.

Information update

Details of all the colleges and subject areas selected for Double High status have now been added to Appendix 2 of the China section on the UK NARIC International Comparisons database. More information about the Double High plan can be found in the Higher Education section. The Institution Listing has also been updated to reflect the enhanced status of the Double High colleges.

This information will be of particular benefit to universities and colleges wishing to identify potential partners in these areas.

Are you a UK college or vocational university interested in exploring partnerships with Double High colleges in China? UK NARIC is currently working with Chinese colleges to support their internationalisation efforts and to facilitate collaboration with UK partner institutions. We are also seeking TVET subject specialists (especially in the areas of marketing, business, and computing and IT) to assist with subject review and development work. If you are interested in exploring these opportunities or would like to know more, please email chinaconnect@naric.org.uk

Evolving the English language test during transformational times


‘Organisations must adapt or die’ has been the consistent mantra of management expert Gary Hamel. During times of exceptional change, this has never been truer.

The arrival of COVID-19 could just be one of those seminal moments that fundamentally reshapes the way the education sector serves its customers. We saw the arrival of the internet decades ago and the rise in online tuition but the vast majority of teaching in recent years has still been in person. For every university embracing online or distance learning there are hundreds of traditional universities relying on face to face courses.

From nowhere, however, we are all embracing Zoom and other platforms to stay in touch with family and friends. Many of us probably hadn’t heard of, yet alone used Zoom until 2020 despite it being founded back in 2011. It took a seismic moment in our lives to thrust it into the mainstream and the home. It isn’t just universities however, whose models are being challenged by COVID-19. English language test providers are adapting too. Whereas face to face tests have been the norm for years, with restrictions on movement in place, providers have been forced to think again about how they can help universities select overseas students.

The best propositions in any walk of life are those which meet a real human need. We didn’t know we needed real-time information, a camera and so many new  ‘apps’ on the same device we use to make telephone calls until companies like Apple made a smartphone more accessible and therefore more necessary for modern life. Apple met an unrecognised need for something that is now so vital. The need for robust, at home English language tests is perhaps more clear now, but they are nevertheless, still not common, largely perhaps because, until now,  there was no catalyst forcing people away from face to face testing and only limited offerings in the digital space.

The UK Home Office relaxed guidelines on 20 April 2020 for institutions to self-assess B1 level of English for international students below degree level. This was designed for students who could not access a test centre. This is a welcome change; however, an online at-home English language test would be presumably of great interest to institutions right now, as who is to say these will not become the norm. The ability to sit a test in a place that suits you could help tremendously with accessibility and help those who would otherwise not gain access to higher education overseas.  

TNE must deliver portable qualifications that will be recognised internationally


“At times, regulations developed to safeguard students and societies… can hinder the achievement of the very benefits associated with TNE”

Cross-border cooperation and coordination are needed to reap the full benefits of transnational education, writes Fabrizio Trifiro. Fabrizio is the recently-appointed Head of Quality Benchmark Services at UK NARIC and was formerly at the UK QAA where he led on the quality assurance of TNE.

From my experience in the external quality assurance of UK TNE over a number of years, I appreciate the key challenges and opportunities facing TNE providers, students, and sending and receiving countries’ authorities; and also some of the priorities to focus on, to fully achieve the benefits that can come from TNE. 

The challenges of TNE are several, but it is with a firm sight to its potential benefits that they need to be looked at. TNE is a way to make available education programmes to people who would not otherwise be able to access them because they are unwilling or unable to move internationally, be it for financial, family, work, or visa related reasons.

TNE has therefore the inherently progressive potential to widen international access to quality and relevant education, in particular in locations where there is unmet demand, contributing to the development of skills needed to support social and economic development.

Education providers themselves can benefit significantly from engaging in TNE provision, not only financially (an often over-estimated benefit and motivation), but also by gaining insights into different cultures, societies and education systems, being exposed to different approaches to common issues, expanding their knowledge base and international networks, and ultimately diversifying and enhancing their academic offer and their capacity to develop innovative solutions to today’s global world. It is about serving the core mission of education providers – that of educating people for the benefit of their communities – in a context of globalisation.

Delivering education programmes at considerable geographical and often cultural distance poses obvious challenges. How can education providers satisfy themselves about the standards of their education programmes and the quality of the student experience when they deliver those programmes in different and distant locations, and through different and often complex delivery arrangements?  And how can they do so while also complying with the expectations and needs of the host locations of delivery, which might have very different strategic priorities for their societies, their economies, and their education systems?

“It is about working together to develop a shared understanding about the expectations that should underpin quality cross-border provision”

Different requirements from the sending and receiving countries are to be expected, and indeed welcomed, as it is important to reassure stakeholders in the host country about the quality and relevance of education being offered by providers originally based in a different location.

However, I have been able to witness how at times regulations developed to safeguard students and societies from the risks of substandard education, can hinder innovation and the achievement of the very benefits associated with TNE – for example, by restraining the types of programmes, or types of modality of TNE that can be delivered. This often has negative implications for the capacity of TNE provision to address local skills needs through innovative provision, and also for the recognition of TNE qualifications for further study or employment.

This is where the importance of cross-border cooperation between regulatory bodies, qualifications recognition agencies, education providers, and other key stakeholders comes in. It is about working together to develop a shared understanding about the expectations that should underpin quality cross-border provision, improve understanding and build trust in each other’s education systems, and ultimately facilitate the development of education provision capable of meeting the needs of our increasingly interconnected communities and ensuring qualification holders can be truly mobile.

The UK NARIC is the UK agency that can play this all-important role of ensuring that TNE, and internationalisation more generally, remains focused on delivery of education leading to qualifications that will be fully recognised internationally for their relevance and quality.

The recently signed Global Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications clearly indicates that this is a high priority for the entire international higher education community.

I am therefore excited to have recently joined UK NARIC at this critical time to continue to work together with international recognition and accreditation bodies, ministries, providers and employers to develop initiatives that can safeguard standards and secure the relevance of education delivered internationally – while also supporting the global recognition and portability of TNE qualifications.

About the author: Fabrizio Trifiro is the Head of Quality Benchmark Services at UK NARIC.

This blog post was originally published on the PIE News blog.

Survey: universities and education fraud – 75% cannot spot a fake certificate


UK NARIC recently surveyed university admissions staff to understand better the approaches they take to verifying international qualifications and dealing with fake certificates and fraudulent applications – a growing problem. Responses were received from 17 countries.

The survey results were intriguing. One surprising statistic to emerge is that only 25% of respondents felt confident they could spot fake qualification documents without assistance.

However, it is apparent that some institutions are devoting significant time and resource to verification – 62% said they conduct their own verifications direct with awarding institutions – although some respondents said that they verify direct not as a matter of course but only in cases which raise concern or doubt.

The survey revealed a range of approaches to verification. Some institutions rely on examining hard-copy qualification documents. In some countries, legalisation or apostille processes are used by institutions. Others use online verification methods, in combination with alternative processes when online checks are not available or not possible.

14% of institutions said that, in general, they don’t verify overseas qualification documents at all.

UK NARIC’s thinking on the verification issue is to offer institutions a spectrum of relevant resources and services that can be used in a variety of ways. This is an attempt to fit with what the survey appears to confirm – that institutions vary in their approaches and methods relating to verification.

UK NARIC members have online access to the extensive UK NARIC databases, files on countries and education systems, and institutional listings. This supports many fact checks such as correct names for qualifications and institutions, and checks on whether institutions are recognised in their home country.

The UK NARIC certificate bank, accessed from inside the International Comparisons database, contains thousands of images not only of final certificates but also of full transcripts. This supports further fact checking and also, of course, visual comparison of the certificate bank image with documents from applicants.

If admissions officers need personalised help for particular cases, then this is available from UK NARIC’s Member Enquiries service. A dedicated, experienced team handles member questions, and the team’s detailed responses can provide an expert second opinion and valuable advice in difficult cases. A 48-hour service is available on member enquiries.

UK NARIC member institutions are not always fully aware of all the information and features available in the UK NARIC databases, or are perhaps not thinking about how they could be used to assist with verification. UK NARIC offers regular training workshops, in the UK and worldwide, that can help members get the most out of the databases and online resources available. On-site training, tailored to your own specific requirements, can also be organised.

The concept of on-site practical training can be further extended to UK NARIC working with admissions teams, hands-on, to give additional support and capacity.

The idea of a verification service that can give definitive confirmation that a qualification is genuine, delivered fast and at reasonable cost through a single supplier, has led to UK NARIC launching its QCAS service – Qualification Checked At Source. QCAS can achieve verification of a degree, checked direct with the awarding institution, inside 10 days – in most cases, faster. A UK NARIC/QCAS certificate of verification is supplied, for student files and audit trails. An online dashboard makes ordering, administration and management quick and efficient.

The IT behind QCAS can also be integrated into an institution’s own online application and admissions process. Verification can then form part of the normal applicant journey – for selected subsets of applicants, if this is desired. Applicant-pay or institutional-pay models are possible. This system has already been successfully implemented by one major UK institution.

This UK NARIC spectrum of resources can support the verification efforts of admissions teams at all levels – from optimising the use of UK NARIC membership, through training and hands-on support, and towards certificated verification and even fully integrated verification systems.

UK NARIC is always interested in talking to institutions to find out more about how they approach and handle verification, and to offer advice or support. Would you like us to visit? We’d be glad to hear from you: email philip.cernik@naric.org.uk