Cross-border education is a significant development in the era of globalization. This is particularly so in the case of higher education, where many new forms of post-secondary education have emerged over the past two decades, ranging from face-to-face to distance education programmes. Cross-border higher education refers not only to the mobility of students, but also to the mobility of academic staff, educational programmes, and institutions across national borders.
When there is mobility of students, academic staff, and a labour force across borders, recognition of qualifications is very pertinent. There is a close link between recognition of qualifications and quality assurance and accreditation. However, the diversification of educational programmes, qualifications, and delivery modes, combined with the proliferation of non-formal learning, make it difficult to determine the exact value of a foreign qualification. Assessing the quality of a particular qualification, especially if it is obtained from another country, has become a highly complicated process.
As evaluators, employers, professional bodies, and other stakeholders become more interested in determining the quality of educational institutions, programmes and qualifications, recognition and accreditation bodies increasingly have to appeal to quality assurance agencies for information and updates on the quality status of educational institutions or programmes. Thus, there is an urgent need for efficient and effective international cooperation and information-sharing.
UNESCO, as an international governmental organization, plays a key role in setting international standards, capacity-building and acting as a clearinghouse to promote information-sharing. UNESCO has initiated several global and regional initiatives that are directly related to recognition of qualifications and quality assurance of cross-border higher education, including:
UNESCO Regional Conventions on Recognition of Academic Qualifications;
UNESCO-OECD Guidelines for Quality Provision of Cross-Border Higher Education;
UNESCO capacity-building workshops on assessment and quality assurance of cross-border higher education;
UNESCO-APQN Toolkit on Regulating the Quality of Cross-Border Higher
Education; and X Asia-Pacific Academic Recognition Network (APARNET)
Ninth Session of the Regional Committee