“Education Passports” for Refugees Tested in Greece

An international human rights organization is looking to provide education passports for refugees wishing to receive higher education and plans to test the efficacy of these projects in Greece.

The Council of Europe along with Norway, Britain, Greece and Italy’s national qualification centers have joined together in an effort to provide education passports that were initially introduced in Norway in 2015. The initiative comes after European officials declared 20 years ago that university studies should be evaluated fairly per the 1997 “Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region.”

Fourteen refugees were offered qualifications passports in March. The initiative has faced road blocks however, because administering education passports to refugees is not only expensive but also time consuming given that European countries have differing systems by which they process information as well as unique qualifications for admission into higher education programs. Refugees have typically waited months and or years before universities recognize their degrees or education qualifications.

If the “Education Passport” initiative succeeds, refugees will be issued a passport listing their qualifications a day or two after they have their interview for admission into the country as an asylum seeker. While the passport will not guarantee them any kind of entrance into a university, it will provide a clear break down of the skills that refugees possess with the hope that this resume of sorts will make it much easier for refugees to continue their education after fleeing their home countries.

As the law currently sits in Greece, refugees must get a bachelor’s and then take a national higher education entrance exam, meaning that refugees would also have to learn Greek in order to advance or continue their studies and professional work.