Arab States adopt a new regional higher education convention
On 2 February 2022, Member States belonging to UNESCO’s Arab region adopted the revised Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Diplomas and Degrees in Higher Education in the Arab States during an International Conference of States at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France.
This is the fifth UNESCO regional recognition convention to be revised to take into account the unprecedented transformations in higher education systems, in policies and particularly in international cooperation and student mobility.
The Arab States house less than 10% of the world’s higher education population but display higher student mobility than the global average, both inbound and outbound. Over the last 20 years, the number of higher education providers has increased threefold in the region, the diversity of degree offerings has exploded and new delivery modes have spread to expand access, including through digital means.
“These new realities have necessitated a re-examining and revision of the earlier recognition convention for the Arab States adopted in 1978,” explained Ms Stefania Giannini, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education.
The International Conference of States was co-chaired by Mr Khaled Atef Abdel Ghaffar, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Egypt and Mr Abdellatif Mirawi, Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation of Morocco. Both Ministers highlighted the importance that the region attaches to the mobility of students and researchers and the value this revised regional Convention brings for strengthening cooperation among higher education systems in the Arab States.
The Convention text is the result of a four-year process of consultations with international experts from across the region. Two consultations were held in Sharm El Sheikh and Cairo, Egypt in 2017, and a third convened in Rabat, Morocco in 2018. The final text was subsequently endorsed at the final consultation meeting convened online by the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in Beirut in June 2021.
During the conference, eight countries signed the new Regional Convention – Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Yemen – signaling their intentions to launch the ratification process. It is now open for ratification by other Member States in the region as well as Member and Observer States of UNESCO. The Convention will enter into force following the 5th ratification from the region. A certified copy of the convention will be shared with the concerned Member States and made available on UNESCO’s Higher Conventions Portal in the coming weeks.
UNESCO calls on countries to ratify the revised regional convention for the Arab States together with the Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education. While the revised convention for the Arab States aims to advance recognition, mobility and cooperation within the region, the Global Convention promotes this among regions.