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Higher Education Series

Code of Good Practice
in the Provision of Transnational Education
(adopted by the Lisbon Recognition Convention Committee
at its second meeting, Rīga, 6 June 2001)


The Parties to the Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region (the Lisbon Recognition Convention),

Conscious of the rapid development of transnational education, characterised by those arrangements and partnerships between institutions and organisations in which the students are located in a different country to the one where the institution providing the education is based, and of its impact on higher education globally, but also specifically in the Europe Region;

Conscious in particular of the challenges posed by transnational education institutions and programmes operating outside of the framework of any national education system;

Being aware of the fact that transnational higher education is rapidly expanding, due mainly to the growing and seemingly limitless uses of the new information technologies in providing educational services in a world of borderless higher education;

Convinced that national systems of higher education are, and will continue to be, entrusted inter alia to preserve the cultural, social, philosophical, and religious diversity of the European Region while also being expected to promote various forms of international and global co-operation;

Attaching great importance to the academic quality of study programmes and degrees awarded by higher education institutions engaged in transnational education;

Considering that, regardless of the procedures adopted for establishing and providing educational services, higher education institutions should comply with those standards of performance in teaching and learning that are required by the present and future development of knowledge, technology and the labour market;

Acknowledging that facilitating the recognition of qualifications awarded through transnational arrangements will contribute to promoting both the mobility of students and that of study programmes between higher education institutions and systems;

Having regard to the Council of Europe/UNESCO Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region that provides an overall normative framework for dealing with academic recognition matters;

Having regard also to the Codes of good practice developed and monitored by some of the major providers, such as:

Mindful that such Codes provide working frameworks from the perspective of the sending institutions/systems of higher education, and that they have to be complemented by the perspectives of the receiving institutions/systems;

Having regard also to the Diploma Supplement developed jointly by the European Commission, the Council of Europe and UNESCO and aiming to provide supplementary information facilitating the assessment of qualifications;

Confident that ethical principles and values should closely guide the international and global cooperation between higher education systems and institutions;

Conscious of the need to find commonly agreed solutions to practical recognition problems in the European Region, and between the States of this Region, and those of other regions of the world, in an ever more global space of higher education;

Conscious of the need to permanently update the implementation mechanisms of the principles and provisions of the Lisbon Recognition Convention, thus keeping up with the pace of new developments in higher education cooperation;

Have agreed on the need for:

Section I. Terminology



Awarding institution

A higher education institution issuing degrees, diplomas, certificates or other qualifications.

Educational services


Providing institution

Transnational arrangements

Transnational education

Section II. Principles

Explanatory Memorandum


STATUS OF THE DOCUMENT: Adopted by the Lisbon Recognition Convention Committee at its second meeting, Rīga, 6 June 2001.

1. Introduction
The Code which follows is designed to present the perspectives of both sending and receiving countries regarding the provision of transnational education. Its contents are to be seen as complementary to the Lisbon Recognition Convention thus providing a normative framework to be taken as reference by the national recognition bodies in their specific undertakings.

2. The objectives of the Code

In order to promote good practice in the area of transnational education - with particular reference to the quality of the provision of study programmes and the standards of qualifications issued by the Parties to the Council of Europe/UNESCO Lisbon Recognition Convention, the Code is intended:

3. Implementation of the Code

The Code includes a set of principles which should be respected by institutions or organizations involved in the provision of educational services through transnational arrangements. These principles are presented in the form of statements with a normative value. For implementing the provisions of the Code, mainly with regard to the recognition of qualifications issued through transnational arrangements, the ENIC network shall apply the procedures outlined in the Recommendation on procedures and criteria for the assessment of foreign qualifications. Therefore, the Code and the Recommendation are fully complementary and mutually supportive documents.

4. The Scope of the Code

The Code refers particularly to those transnational arrangements which lead to the provision of study programmes and to the issuing of qualifications. Consequently, reference is made to: