Recognizing Refugee Qualifications: Practical Tips for Credential Assessment

Thousands of refugees fleeing conflict and disaster in countries such as Syria face major hurdles in their new host countries. Credential assessment can be an unexpected one: Too often, lack of verifiable educational credentials blocks refugees from access to higher education or skilled professional employment.

This report is an overview of WES’s extensive research on worldwide practices in the assessment of credentials and qualifications of refugees and other displaced individuals. It seeks to provide educational institutions, licensing bodies, and employers – particularly in North America – with an understanding of promising and actionable practices for recognizing the qualifications, credentials and abilities of students and trained professionals.

This report includes:

  • An overview of the challenges in assessing the credentials of refugee students and professionals.
  • Basic legal and theoretical frameworks in assessing such credentials.
  • An overview of recommended practices to help institutions recognize refugee applicants qualifications when full, official or verifiable documentation is missing.
  • Alternative methods for recognizing refugee qualifications when it is not possible to recognize the applicant’s full claimed background.




ISSUE No.7 of the "SIRIUS Network Policy Brief Series" features an in-depth study on the "Refugee children in education in Europe, How to prevent a lost generation?" by Prof. Maurice Crul (VU University Amsterdam and Erasmus University Rotterdam), February 2017.

  • April 1, 2017

The report has some interesting findings:

Different models have been identified that now used to incorporate refugee children in education. We roughly distinguish three:
  • Parallel school system: Refugee children are largely incorporated into a parallel school system (example Turkey).
  • Access to vocational school levels: Refugee children are included in the national education system but are largely streamed into the (lowest) vocational streams (examples are Germany, Flanders and the Netherlands)
  • Access to all school levels: Refugee children are included in the national education system, with the aim to stream them to all school levels (including the academic levels) according to their capabilities (example is Sweden).


Six major school arrangements that affect positively school success have been identified.

  1. 1. Free of costs pre-school places for the youngest refugee children to start to learn the second language early.
  2. 2. Sustained second language programs should be available from pre-school until upper-secondary school to accommodate children from all age groups. Teachers should get up-to-date second language teacher training and especially developed materials and methods.
  3. 3. For 16+ and 18+ students: Education should be available also after compulsory schooling (for instance adult education) if we want to prevent a lost generation. Stopping or only providing limited access to education beyond compulsory schooling is highly disruptive.
  4. 4. Short introductory classes, after which students are immersed into regular classes. Being placed for one or two years in welcome classes or international classes is detrimental to school success. Introductory classes should be connected to all secondary school levels (not just vocational education).
  5. 5. Additional support teachers should be assigned to follow up on children's needs.
  6. 6. Direct access to English Master programs for students holding a BA, comparable to international students.

An integrated approach is key, where these arrangements are linked together (See also the recommendations of European Commission Report: Study for educational support for newly arrived migrants, PPMI 2013). For example, short introductory programs can only be successful when combined with sustained second language support.

- PDF report

Survey among teachers/schools that work with refugee children

  • December 25, 2016

In the context of the “Training for teachers how to cope with refugee children in their class” project (REFUGEEClassAssistance4Teachers, 2016-1-TR01-KA201-034527), we are surveying the challenges teachers face when they have children in their class with a refugee background.

This questionnaire should not take more than 10 minutes of your time.

Successful kick-off meeting in Ankara on 15-16 November 2016

  • November 15-16, 2016

All partners participated in a successful kick-off meeting in Ankara on 15-16 November 2016. Current status of education of refugee children in all partner countries were presented, while the various milestones of the project were detailed.