(Rome, 10 July 2019) “Globalization has made necessary the recognition of internationally acceptable skills and abilities” said Dr Rony Darazi, from the Université Antonine, on the occasion of the final conference of the MERIC-Net project, Mediterranean Network of National Information Centres on the Recognition of Qualifications, on the 13th and 14th of June 2019. The conference took place at the University of Nice – Sophia Antipolis (France) and featured the presence of the different partner universities, ministries, public authority, agency and associations of the project, of which UNIMED is part.
Different aspects have been addressed during this conference such as the recognition of credits and qualifications in Southern Mediterranean countries, the impact of International Mobility programs between EU and South Med on recognition, as well as the strategic management of the project and its activities, deliverables and impacts. It was also the occasion to share good practices and focus on the project’s sustainability, as the project comes to an end. Launched in 2016 under the Erasmus + Programme Capacity Building for Higher Education, MERIC-Net gathers 19 partners from Algeria, France, Italy, Lebanon, Morocco, Norway and Tunisia and is coordinated by the University of Nice – Sophia Antipolis (France).
The aim of the project is to revitalize the MERIC network (Mediterranean Recognition Information Centres) so to facilitate the recognition of qualifications among the Mediterranean countries and to increase the vertical and horizontal mobility in higher education systems. As Mrs Imen Bouallegui, from the Tunisian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, explained during this conference, MERIC-Net has three types of objectives:
- Direct objectives of expertise and experience on the recognition of diploma and on the training on the educational systems
- An operational objective of implementing good practices at national levels, and,
- A strategic objective of creating a center of diploma recognition and a regional network of recognition for the southern Mediterranean region.
Throughout this project, the partners have been implementing a set of activities, such as the organization of online and face-to-face trainings for the representatives of the Higher Education Ministries of Algeria, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia and for the universities’ staff, the production of National Reports presenting the state of the art of the education system in these countries, the elaboration of guidelines to evaluate non-traditional, cross-border or trans-national education and distance learning institutions and the development of efficient procedures to facilitate the recognition of refugees’ qualification. Upon those words, UNIMED raised the idea of developing a collaboration between the MERIC-Network and the RESCUE project, aimed at supporting the refugee students in resuming their academic training path.
On the subject of recognition of credits and qualifications in Southern Mediterranean countries, some best practices implemented in European universities were presented on the occasion of this final conference of the MERIC-Net project. This was the case, for example of Prof. Martin from the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, who shared the calculation of the overall averages for University students in mobility, taking into account the credits allocated to the different subjects, whereby the coefficient of one subject is equal to the number of credits it has been allocated.
Some recommendations for a better impact of international mobility programs between EU and South Med on recognition have also been shared. For example, Dr Rony Darazi contributed with some proposals such as developing, for South Med universities, a greater institutional support, move away from program strategy and strengthen an organizational strategy, recognized to have a better impact. He also highlighted both the usefulness of the diploma supplement, which makes understandable and readable what the students did during their mobilities, and the necessity of harmonization in the recognition. Indeed, and as highlighted by Mr Patrick Werquin, the external evaluator of the MERIC-Net project, “there is a need to go from equivalence to recognition” in relation to qualifications, mobilities and credits.
Concerning the good practices and lessons learned during the MERIC-Net project, Mrs Imen Bouallegui shared some examples, such as the collection of information and data on various educational systems, the exchanges of ideas and experiences, the collaboration with partners from the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean, the work on the digitalisation of the equivalence process.
The conference also featured the contribution of Mrs Emmanuelle Gardan, from the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), institutional partner of UNIMED, who shared the wish of the UfM to “support the sustainability of the MERIC network & to present it to the 43 UfM member states as a structuring project in the Euro-Mediterranean zone in the field of higher education”.
This final conference logically provided for the opportunity to discuss the sustainability of the project, as it is coming to an end. The sustainability strategy discussed on this occasion revolves around the idea of further strengthening the network beyond the project, with a president, vice president, secretariat as well as a steering committee.
You can learn more on the MERIC-Net project here.
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