“Comparable to British Bachelor degree standard”: what does this comparison statement mean?


Some UK NARIC evaluations state that an award can be “considered comparable to British Bachelor degree standard”.

This might appear in UK NARIC statements of comparability issued to individuals, or in our qualification databases used by educational institutions and employers.

Some of our users are unclear about how to treat this evaluation – is it Bachelor Hons, Bachelor Ordinary, or a more general statement?

To get to the crux of the matter first – this comparability is in relation to degree-level qualifications from a national education system as a whole. The comparability is made to ‘British Bachelor standard’ because it is not possible to make a comparison to Ordinary or Honours standard for all degree qualifications from that system across the board.

Therefore, when it comes to assessing the qualifications held by an individual – for example, if you are an admissions officer looking at an application for entry – then in these cases, you will need to delve into more detail on what the applicant has studied, before deciding if the individual’s degree is closer to Ordinary or Honours standard. For example, you will probably have to examine an individual transcript, and perhaps look at how much independent study has been done, and whether a dissertation has been completed.

To give wider context, it’s worth considering the relatively specialised character of upper secondary studies in the British school system. Pupils typically narrow their focus to three or four subjects aged 16 (or perhaps five in Scotland). These relatively tightly focused qualifications can be used for entry into Bachelor degrees which are usually fairly specialised from the outset.

In contrast, many international school pupils continue to study in excess of 10 subjects right through to the end of upper secondary.

This UK upper secondary approach feeds through to the first year or two of UK Bachelor courses, with Honours programmes normally characterised by more independent research and a dissertation in the final year.

In some countries, the huge number of autonomous institutions, and differences in quality assurance structures, mean that standards and course content can vary considerably.

While some programmes require a high level of specialisation and independent research, others are more general and include a high proportion of taught content. Courses in the first category could be considered comparable to a British Honours degree: those in the second category, probably not. Yet all graduates from that national system would potentially be awarded the same qualification title.

It is in these situations that UK NARIC cannot guarantee that all degree qualifications from that country will be Honours standard across the board. Some may be, however. So a more nuanced judgement has to be made in individual cases, depending on an analysis of the transcript and other factors such as the presence or absence of a dissertation.

There is one other type of situation which leads to a British Bachelor standard comparability statement. It lies in those national education systems, typically in countries with close historical ties to the UK, which have retained a clear distinction between the Ordinary and Honours degrees, but where the Ordinary degree is by far the more common.

In these cases, learning outcomes of Ordinary degree programmes can be comparable to British Honours level. However, with these national systems, it is hard to justify a UK Honours comparability for Ordinary degrees, because of the existence of the higher Honours award in-country.

Again, in individual cases, transcripts would have to be examined, and a view taken on the particular course undertaken by the applicant, to decide if it is closer to Ordinary or Honours level.

In all of the above situations, the key point is that the British Bachelor standard comparability relates to the national education system rather than an individual qualification or individual person holding that qualification.

Ultimately, for these national systems, it would be misleading to provide a general Honours level comparability statement when that standard cannot be universally guaranteed across all that country’s degree courses.

In individual cases, a British Bachelor standard comparability should not be regarded as saying that an individual’s degree from that country is below UK Honours comparability. And it should not necessarily exclude an individual from being considered for UK postgraduate study.

 

If your organisation is a member of UK NARIC, then you might be able to use our Member Enquiry service if you are having trouble evaluating a particular qualification. For more information on this, UK NARIC members can contact their Account Manager.


UK NARIC’s Visas and Nationality Service launches on 6 April


Arrivals

In early March 2016, the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) section of the Home Office announced that the online Points Based System (PBS) Calculator was being turned off on 5 April 2016.

The online calculator enabled immigration applicants to self-assess their qualifications and English language level, and print out the calculator results, in advance of submitting their application to UKVI.

From 6 April onwards, those wishing to use qualifications to satisfy the immigration attribute requirements and/or English language proficiency requirements will no longer be able to use print-outs from the PBS calculator to support their applications. They will need to apply to UK NARIC VisasAndNationality (www.naric.org.uk/VisasAndNationality).

UK NARIC VisasAndNationality is the new designated service supporting individuals applying for UK visas or for settlement in the UK, provided on behalf of the Home Office.

A new online application system has been specifically developed and will provide official UK NARIC VisasAndNationality statements, custom-designed for immigration purposes. These statements confirm your academic qualification level and/or English language proficiency – as appropriate for your personal circumstances and immigration route. The new security-enhanced statements present clearly all the key information required by Home Office UKVI immigration case workers.

How will the new service work?

The new VisasAndNationality web application process asks you all the relevant questions and keeps you on the right route to help ensure you get the correct paperwork to support your immigration application. Online messaging allows you to contact the dedicated VisasAndNationality help team at any stage in your application.

Which immigration routes will the new service support?

The VisasAndNationality service supports applications made through the following PBS routes: 

  • Tier 1 Entrepreneur
  • Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur
  • Tier 2 General
  • Tier 2 Ministry of Religion
  • Tier 2 Sportsperson
  • Representative of an Overseas Business visa

The service also supports family, settlement and citizenship/nationality applications.

Other visa routes do not require UK NARIC VisasAndNationality documentation as supporting evidence.  Please visit the UK Visa & Immigration website to check the particular requirements for each of the immigration routes.

If you have questions about the Immigration Rules or about your particular circumstances in relation to them, you should contact UKVI direct.

How quick will the service be?

The VisasAndNationality service offers a faster 10 day turnround time – quicker than current UK NARIC statement services which work to 15 day timeframes.

A range of delivery options are available, including next working day and, for international deliveries, fast and secure courier by DHL (delivery is charged extra, according to the option you choose).

How much will it cost?

To streamline the service and to make it as simple and efficient as possible, we offer a simple one price structure – you pay one price for your application and for your use of the service – the price is the same regardless of the number and type of statements produced. You pay per service use, not per statement.

You can submit multiple qualifications at the time of application. Again, you pay per application, not per qualification.

The price for an individual application is £125 + VAT.

For immigration advisers, solicitors and other organisations looking to process multiple applications, we offer a corporate bundle service.

How do I apply and what do I need to send?

You need to register and complete your application online.

You can also apply by post. We will need paper photocopies (not originals) of all your documents (detailed below) and a letter giving your contact details and the purpose of your enquiry.

If you apply online, you can upload scanned files. If you apply by post, send photocopies. Do NOT send original certificates or documents.

We need the following from you:

  • A photocopy or scanned version of your certificate(s) together with final transcript(s) in the original language
  • A photocopy or scanned version of a certified translation in English
  • Evidence of the medium of instruction of your degree (in the form of an official letter from the university or institution) OR a photocopy or scanned version of your English test certificate(s).

Where can I get more information?

UK NARIC is not able to help with questions about migration to the UK; please contact UK Visas & Immigration (part of the Home Office) to find out more about the UK’s immigration system; you can contact UKVI direct.

For more information about UK NARIC’s VisasAndNationality service please visit the website www.naric.org.uk/VisasAndNationality or email visas@naric.org.uk


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.