Empowering student and talent flows to meet the needs of a global and digital economy

By Eugene Clark
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, January 2, 2018
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Education is the tide that lifts all boats. Providing people everywhere with access to education is an essential part of the infrastructure required to continue efforts to fight world poverty.

Postgraduate students attend the commencement ceremony at Tsinghua University in Beijing. [File photo]


Enabling educational qualifications and records to be digitized, verified and provided promptly and efficiently across institutions, employers and other stakeholders is part of the infrastructure required for an efficient workforce to respond to the needs of a global economy.


A limitation on this tide of development is the fact that universities around the world largely remain jurisdictionally-bound, and there is no uniform recognition of or portability regarding academic qualifications from other countries.


Addressing this issue last month at the 39th Session of the General Conference of UNESCO, a decision was made to continue development of UNESCO's academic mobility convention. This work is in the form of theGlobal Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications, with the goal of formally adopting the new convention by November 2019.


UNESCO together with UNICEF, the World Bank, UNFPA, UNDP, UN Women and UNHCR organized the World Education Forum 2015 in Incheon, Republic of Korea. Over 1,600 participants from 160 countries adopted the "Incheon Declaration for Education 2030," which sets out a new vision for education and sustainable development.


An increasing number of students, teachers, researchers, administrative staff and others are studying or working outside their country of origin. This was evident in my years in China during which I saw an increasing number of international students on campus. Indeed, today, more than 4 million students study in schools and universities outside of their home country, and the number is expected to at least double by 2020.


If the world's future workforce is to have the flexibility required by industries, and if individuals are to get maximum value from their overseas qualification, it's important these be widely recognized. This will promote knowledge and skills transfers across national borders and help improve graduate outcomes.


If education is to be a "global right," it is important the outcome in terms of a qualification be transparent, reliable and non-discriminatory. This requires education authorities to develop better, fairer, more efficient and user-friendly quality assurance processes to recognize and grant reciprocity to qualifications gained in institutions elsewhere.


Such mutual recognition will also promote international cooperation among educational institutions and researchers. The greater mix of students from multiple countries will add important diversity the result of which will be enhanced inter-cultural enrichment and understanding leading to better graduate and research outcomes.


However, it's one thing to codify the principle of trans-border recognition of qualifications, but quite another to design a system putting it into operation. Therefore, apart from a convention, another important enabler of recognition of qualifications across national borders is the development and growth of digital student data verification.

Recent years have seen rapid development in this area. One of the most significant is the work of the Groningen Declaration, which is a growing network of key stakeholders seeking to develop a network of organizations committed to creating a Digital Student Data Ecosystem to meet the needs of educational institutions and employers.


Several countries have established projects aimed at creating a portable system of digital depositories that create a registry of student results that can be shared across national borders. In China CHSI is a website maintained by CHESICC (China Higher Education Student Information and Career Center.


CHSI is a MOE-authorized qualification verification institution in China that offers digital administration and services for student enrollment, student record and qualification management, employment information, military conscription, and more.


The CHSI credential verification service includes postsecondary student record, qualification certificate, college transcript, high school diploma and Gaokao scores.


In Australia, the Sixth Annual Groningen Declaration Meetinglast April launched the My eQuals, a system that involves universities across Australia and New Zealand and will allow access to academic records anytime, anywhere. My eQuals is a system of digital authenticated transcripts and academic documents that can be shared with employers, other universities, and any other third parties elected by students.


This system will give graduates of participating universities greater document integrity and efficiency and promote student mobility and career enhancement while also helping to fight fraudulent qualification issues.


Apart from the proposed UN Convention, a related development by the United Nations is the creation of the ID2020 project, aiming to provide a digital ID to 1.1 billion people by means of a blockchain-supported network that would provide a permanent and legal identity using biometric data on a person's phone. 

In addition, the Council of Europe's European Qualifications Passport for Refugees project aims to make its passport digitally portable by developing software enabling refugees to have digital records of their educational qualifications that they could follow them wherever they go.

Eugene Clark is a columnist with China.org.cn. For more information please visit:


Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors only, not necessarily those of China.org.cn.

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