NOKUT voyage from Norway for fact-finding visit to UK


UK NARIC hosts many visitors from around the UK and from around the world in its offices in Cheltenham. But last week we wished that our new training room, recently enlarged in our office refurb, had been made even bigger as we welcomed an unusually large delegation of 18 from our counterpart national recognition agency in Norway, NOKUT.

The photo shows some of the delegation enjoying the floral gardens and period buildings of Regency Cheltenham! Some of the NOKUT fact-finding delegation from Norway in the floral gardens of Cheltenham

NOKUT is conducting a major fact-finding review to inform the next stages in its development. NOKUT’s remit is not only qualification recognition; it also performs the lead quality assurance role for vocational education and for higher education in Norway.

This accounts for the size of the delegation – there were representatives from the different departments and functions of the organisation, and also Board members. The NOKUT Board includes representatives from the education sector and student union representation as well, so all in all the approach is notably collaborative and multi-stakeholder.

The day after meeting us in Cheltenham, the NOKUT delegation travelled to nearby Gloucester to hold conversations with the UK quality assurance agency, the QAA, with a focus on that aspect of NOKUT’s work.

The exchange of ideas was extremely interesting. There are some similarities between NOKUT and UK NARIC – they are both independent, but officially authorised, agencies – but at the same time there are differences of approach. Of course, in our recognition work, the focus is the same, and there was much discussion in this area.

Our meeting in Cheltenham was very fruitful indeed and we look forward to interesting collaborations and joint projects with our Norwegian colleagues at NOKUT!


New gateway page to our information bases and new features for our subscriber members go live 18 March


The new International Qualifications Hub page, the new gateway page to the UK NARIC International Qualifications information bases for subscriber members, goes live on 18 March.

Subscriber members will see the new Hub when they log in to access the IQ information bases. The IQ Hub gives a clearer navigation structure and makes it easier to find the different information bases, and switch between them.

A new feature for subscriber members is the Preferences button at the top right of the Hub page. This allows you to toggle on/off the photographs on the country file pages, and the world map on the country/region selector list. This is a useful feature for users who want less scrolling to access the textual information or the selector lists.

You can save your image preferences so that they are maintained from session to session.  You can change your image preferences at any time.

The Hub also offers the new feature of UK NARIC News Alerts – on the right hand side of the Hub page. This gives you the very latest updates and revisions to the information bases. Clicking through to the Latest Updates will give you all recent updates and revisions in full.

Our third new feature on the Hub is the World News Feed – below the UK NARIC News Alerts. This is your early warning service, featuring media reports and announcements of changes – new, very recent or pending – in education systems or qualifications around the world. Clicking through the links takes you to the reports in full – useful early information and awareness on changes coming through. Clicking on News Feed Updates will give you all the World News Feed stories.


Graduate recruitment best practice


The Graduate Market in 2014, a study of graduate vacancies at the country’s leading employers, has highlighted that employers are increasing their graduate intake by nearly 10% in 2014. Despite a dip in recent years, firms such as investment banks, law firms and the public sector are likely to see a sharp increment in applicant’s this year; holding both domestic and international qualifications.

Each recruiter has their own requirements, with a 2:1 and ABB frequently being required at bachelor and A levels respectively. This is obviously simple to regulate when an applicant has qualifications awarded within the UK, but how do employers ensure that these benchmarks are consistent across all applicants – how do they guarantee that applicants educated in countries such as Nigeria, India and China are held to a comparable standard?

UK NARIC has seen a sharp increase in communication with graduate employers over the last 12 months. The majority of our conversations have been with HR Managers hoping to ensure that they are providing a consistent message to all applicants; aiming to stand behind UK NARIC information when decisions are questioned by the applicant.

As a result of this the International Grade Comparisons database was developed in 2013. Recruiters have been able to ensure consistency in grade equivalences from over 40 key feeder countries to the UK, with further consultation ensuring that an additional 20 countries will be added to the database in 2014.

The next step has been for recruiters to ask UK NARIC for help in streamlining their application systems; by providing data to support the application procedure recruiters have been able to ensure that applicants were signposted to appropriate jobs and the selection process has been made more efficient in terms of reduced unsuitable applicants.

We’d be interested to hear from any graduate recruiters in the hope of further discussing challenges, such as what has been mentioned above, as we continue to work towards providing information which is relevant and useful to all sectors. Please do get in contact (communications@naric.org.uk) should you have any thoughts, suggestions or questions about the above information or UK NARIC as a whole.


Where do you want to go next?


Making sure that employers and education providers understand the value of your qualifications is vitally important.

If you want to take the next step by either studying, looking for a first job or looking to change jobs, it is fundamental to make sure that your qualifications, skills and abilities are valued.

Not all employers, colleges or universities understand the skills and competencies that are associated with qualifications. So whether you hold academic, vocational or professional qualifications from the UK or from overseas we are able to help ensure your qualifications are understood.

Mobility across Europe

Whether you have studied in the UK or elsewhere in Europe, the Europass portfolio can help you stand out from the crowd.

Europass documents are used throughout the UK and Europe and can help employers, universities, colleges and professional bodies understand more about the skills and competencies that are obtained through training and qualifications.

Visit the Europass website to find out more.

Qualifications from overseas

If British HEIs or potential employers have difficulties understanding the level of your qualifications, UK NARIC can help you. UK NARIC can provide a Statement of Comparability to compare your qualifications to the UK’s qualification frameworks. So, if you want to work or study in the UK please visit the UK NARIC website to find out more.


Reflections: Morocco


Morocco Hassan II Mosque detail“Play it again Sam”

Although never said these words are probably the most famous quote associated with Casablanca; however the city offers so much more than the backdrop to the famous 1942 film.

A former French colonial post Casablanca is a busy, bustling, modern city that hasn’t bowed to pressure and change to meet the needs of the sun-loving tourist.   The city is the most Westernised in Morocco but still retains an Islamic heart.  Highlights for a tourist include the King Hassan II Mosque and Casa’s Medina.

The purpose of the visit was to attend the British Council’s Bringing the Learning Home seminar on international partnerships and developing skills for employment.  UK NARIC has previously had very little involvement in this area but it quickly became apparent that there is a significant strategic role for the UK’s national agency to play alongside the British Council.

International skills and education partnerships exist for a number of reasons; to develop and share best practice (including QA, curriculum development, delivery and assessment), to generate additional income, to improve student mobility and for education providers to learn from each other.  Each individual partnership is unique and outcomes vary accordingly.  Some programmes may have a micro-impact where the main benefit is experienced by the students only; others might have a macro-impact with the institution changes its behaviour as a result of the partnership; some partnerships have even had a national-impact where the partnership findings have resulted in a change to education or skills policy.

Key to the success of partnerships is an in depth understanding by each partner of the educational systems involved and an appreciation of where the partnership outcomes will fit into the education and skills frameworks.  This is where UK NARIC can and do help.  The data contained UK NARIC’s online databases and the findings of our benchmarking work can help ensure that partners are better equipped to succeed.

But what of Casablanca and Morocco?  It is always difficult to judge a country from one city and a city from a four day visit; however, some traits did become clear.

Although not the capital of the country, Casablanca is a very lively and busy place.  Industry and commerce are everywhere.  On most streets in the centre of the city there are vendors adding colour and atmosphere.  The markets in the medinas are an experience not to be passed up; they are a delight to each of the senses!

There is the constant buzz of transport accompanied by a symphony of horns, hooters, bells and back-firing engines.  Getting around the city in the red taxis is not for the faint hearted, but it does add to the overall excitement.

Morocco Hassan II MosqueThere are oases of calm.   The King Hassan II Mosque, set on an Atlantic headland, appears a million miles away from the bustle of the city centre.  A thirty minute stroll back into the city also takes you past the excellent La Sqala restaurant and ever popular Rick’s Cafe.

Returning to partnerships; it was evident from the conference that there are many opportunities available for UK education providers in Morocco; and it is equally evident that they are interested in partnering with UK providers.  Morocco’s education system is based on the French Napoleonic system and is similar to other systems in North Africa.

Secondary School

Morocco was a former French protectorate, so the education system is modelled on the French education system

Secondary education is supervised by the Ministry of Education.

Upon completion of secondary school, students get the Baccalauréat, this is the secondary school award that gives access to higher education in Morocco and it might be suitable for entry into overseas institutions (it is all down to institutional discretion).

Vocational Education

Technical and vocational courses are available at secondary school level where students are awarded the Baccalaureat Technique.  At the post-school level vocational courses are usually two years; the highest technical award is a Brevet de Technicien Supérieur.

Higher Education

Higher education is offered by universities and Grandes Ecoles and is under the supervision of the Ministère de l´Enseignement Supérieur (Ministry of Higher Education).

The awards from recognised HE institutions are comparable to standards of the reciprocal UK HE awards.

In short, although not closely linked to the UK’s system Moroccan awards are broadly comparable to the standard of UK awards.

There are a lot of opportunities in Morocco especially for those interested in partnerships and TNE.


Reflections: Libya


LibyaIn September 2013, UK NARIC was given the opportunity to revisit Libya, a country in transition following the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011.

UK NARIC first visited Libya in 2012 to find out more about the Libyan education system. A year later, we were invited to the Workshop on the National Qualifications Framework: Towards Strengthening Confidence in Libyan Education and Training System held in Tripoli on 7th September. The conference brought together all key stakeholders and intended beneficiaries of the proposed framework, from government ministries to university deans and school heads with the aim of introducing the concept of a comprehensive framework and the benefits it could bring to the Libyan education system. The concept is not an entirely new one in Libya: having first been proposed in 2009. Whether a reflection of the on-going transition in Libya or more broadly of the increasing understanding and implementation of NQFs internationally, discussions this year have been met with far greater support.

Many of the officials we met with had benefitted from the government’s national scholarship scheme, which funds approximately 95% of the Libyan students enrolled in international universities. Having undertaken PhDs at a wide range of UK universities, they are keen to see what lessons they can incorporate both from UK education, in strengthening the Libyan system, and in developing robust and efficient evaluation procedures for international qualifications.

Outside of the conference, we were fortunate enough to be taken to visit Leptis Magna, a place once interestingly referred to as ‘Rome by the Sea’[1]. The remnants of the Roman Empire are evident and remarkably well-preserved there but having climbed to the top of the Roman theatre, with stunning views of the Mediterranean, we couldn’t help but feel sad that such a beautiful place remains for the most part unseen, with the FCO advising against all but essential travel to Tripoli and coastal towns: happily, we felt welcome and safe at all times.

Perhaps the highlight of our trip was an unscheduled tour of Gaddafi’s compound which our driver took us to en route to the airport. Only by driving around the largely destroyed complex can you get some picture of the power Gaddafi had held for over four decades. It was interesting, though sad, to see that amongst the dozens of burnt out cars, collapsed buildings, abandoned check-points, and the ruins of his former residence, several families have set up home. The ruins that still stand in the heart of the capital serve as a reminder of the past, amid on-going efforts to build a New Libya.


[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/activityandadventure/8167751/Leptis-Magna-Libya-Rome-by-the-sea.html


Reflections: Bosnia and Herzegovina


Mostar (2)In September UK NARIC visited Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to deliver a capacity building workshop for the ENICs in the region of the Former Yugoslavia.

Our workshop was hosted by the Centre for Information and Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education (the CIP). The representatives of Croatian and Serbian Centres also attended the event.  This was the last of the series of four capacity building workshops prepared and delivered jointly by UK and Croatian NARICs with support from the European Commission. Over the last two years the centres met in the UK, Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina with the aim of sharing good practices and promoting fair recognition in the region of Former Yugoslavia.

With a population of only around four million people, Bosnia and Herzegovina is highly ethnically diverse, being home to Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats. This diversity accounts for the rich culture with a unique mix of Eastern and Western influences. Crossing the historical Old Bridge of Mostar over the fast-flowing Neretva river is almost like opening the gates from the West to the East with mosques dominating the right bank and churches abundant on the left bank.

Unfortunately, the civil war that broke out in BiH in the early 90s showed that diversity may also lead to destruction. Mostar suffered greatly during the war with many of its historical buildings and bridges destroyed by bombings. Luckily, several large-scale restoration projects have managed to return its pre-war beauty and charm to the historical centre of Mostar, which has recently entered the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

In turn, the locals quickly revived the century-old tradition of diving into the Neretva River from the newly-restored Old Bridge. The competition takes place in the summer so unfortunately we did not get to  witness the event. Watching divers jump into ice-cold waters of Neretva from the 25-meter bridge must be quite an experience, no surprise the competition gathers thousands of viewers!

While the narrow cobble-stoned streets in the Old Bridge area are happily bustling with tourists, venturing a bit further out from the city centre is a slightly sombre experience. We were deeply moved by the cemeteries of war victims and the numerous deserted buildings still covered in marks from bomb shells.

In addition to its rich culture, Bosnia and Herzegovina also guarantees fantastic weather with very warm summers and mild winters. We visited the country in early autumn – apparently one of the best times to visit, as the summer heat might be a bit too much! This time of the year is also perfect for sampling delicious local fruit and vegetables. The supermarkets in BiH definitely do not need an “organic” shelf, as local organic produce can be bought in many street markets scattered all around town. Meat- and cheese-lovers would also not be disappointed…

Locals are also known for their love of coffee – apparently BiH citizens drink the most coffee per capita of all the former Yugoslav republics. But don’t expect a large mug of Americano, instead ask for a traditional coffee. It is very similar to Turkish coffee and might even be served with a bite of the local version of Turkish delight.

Mostar lies in a valley surrounded by magnificent mountains. Unfortunately the tight schedule did not allow us to venture outside the city and explore the beautiful countryside. But we certainly left the country with the hope to return and to continue our work in this region.

Tatsiana Zahorskaya, October 2013


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