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Recognition of Qualifications in Mediterranean Higher Education Systems : the Essence of the MERIC-Net Project

(Rome, 26 November 2019) “The strength of the MERIC-Net project, dedicated to the recognition of qualifications in higher education, lies in the participation of members and institutions which are naturally diverse” explains Jean-Christophe Martin from the University of Nice – Sophia Antipolis (France). Involving 19 partners from the Mediterranean and beyond, the project notably includes Ministries of Higher Education and universities from Algeria, France, Italy, Lebanon, Morocco, Norway and Tunisia. 

The objective of the project, which started in 2016, is to revitalise the MERIC network (Mediterranean Recognition Information Centers) in order to facilitate recognition and contacts between the recognition authorities in the Mediterranean and European region. As explained by Rony Darazi from the University Antonine (Lebanon), the MERIC-Net project enables a “collaboration between universities and ministries to implement these information centers, which are of utmost importance in our current globalized world”. The project also more globally aims at favouring and increasing the recognition of qualifications, improving the competencies and skills of credential evaluators as well as raising the quality of mobility in higher education systems.  

“The MERIC-Net project allows us to acquire the skills necessary to the recognition of qualifications and credits” highlights Omar Behadada from the University Abou Bekr Belkaïd Tlemcen (Algeria). To only quote a few, activities taking place in the framework of the project include face-to-face trainings and internships for government officials and university staff from Algeria, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia to provide them with knowledge on EU higher education systems, recognition practices and National Recognition Centres, and fostering their capacity in academic recognition procedures. Online trainings and seminars on transnational education and on the recognition of refugees qualifications, as well as monitoring visits are also marking the lifespan of the project.

From a strategic point of view, as Wafa Triek, from the Centre international d’études pédagogiques CIEP (France) explains, the MERIC-Net project allows for a fluent and swift process of diplomas’ recognition thanks to the network. The latter offers the possibility to get in touch with various systems and countries, to discuss, to see how degrees are composed, to discover different perspectives on education systems, and to get inspiration from one another, noted Ghada Aldasooqi, from the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education, NOKUT (Norway). All of these positive elements encourage the process of recognition, indicates Letizia Brambilla Pisoni, from the Association CIMEA (Italy). 

The achievements of the MERIC-Net project notably include four national reports on Algerian, Lebanese, Moroccan and Tunisian education systems, official Higher Education Institutions, study programmes, qualifications and peculiarities with the aim of facilitating the circulation of clear and complete information, which is useful both for credential evaluators and students. The project also led to the elaboration of guidelines for the evaluation of non-traditional, cross-border or trans-national education and distance learning institutions and their qualifications in order to foster up-to-date recognition practices, as well as to the elaboration and practice-sharing of procedures for the recognition of refugees’ qualifications. The two final conferences that took place in Tlemcen and more recently in Nice in June 2019 (you can get some insights here) are good examples of the exchanges made possible by this project. 

MERIC-Net is also having various positive impacts within the partners’ institutions such as the awareness of the academic and administrative staff and the capacity building of persons dealing with qualifications recognitions at the University Antonine. In the Tunisian Ministry of Higher Education, as Imen Bouallegui pointed out, the MERIC-Net project allows for “good practices to be applied within the ministry, databases on diverse education systems to be established and a better verification of forged diplomas to be implemented”.

What are then the next steps for this important project? An action plan has been proposed to further reactivate the MERIC network, with the support of a board and a secretariat: the best is therefore probably yet to come, with the hope of later functioning like ENIC NARIC centers

Learn more about the project by watching the video and by visiting the official website of the project here