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Higher education degrees to be recognized in Asia Pacific

A student who completes a three-year undergraduate course in China or Australia will be recognized as a holder of a bachelor’s degree in Korea under a recently revised agreement on academic recognition in Asia-Pacific countries.

The Education Ministry said Sunday that the UNESCO ministerial meeting in Tokyo on Nov. 25-26 adopted the revised UNESCO convention on the recognition of qualifications in higher education in Asia-Pacific region. The meeting drew delegates from 28 countries to discuss the 1983 convention.

Parties to the convention include Korea, Japan, China, Australia, and Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia, they said.

Under the new agreement, the student, even if he or she completes just three years of study in China or Australia, will be eligible to apply for graduate school in Korea, where it takes four years to earn a bachelor’s degree.

The revised agreement aims to make degree standards and quality more comparable and compatible throughout Asia to help students continue their studies in different countries and promote academic exchanges in the region, education officials said. It is expected to take effect within a month after it is submitted to UNESCO.

In a bid to block the overheating of degree recognition, the Korean government plans to prevent reckless issuance of degrees by poor-performing universities in the country to foreign students in cooperation with member countries of the agreement.

The agreement benchmarked by the Bologna Process, the academic qualification recognition mechanism in Europe, is expected to lay the ground for Asia-Pacific countries to join the trend of global exchanges in higher education, education officials said.

In order to facilitate the agreement, the National Information Center will be established to provide official information on academic recognition, consulting service regarding the process and cooperate with other member countries, said education officials.

By Lee Woo-young (