Benelux countries agree on mutual recognition of higher education diplomas

Education minister Jet Bussemaker and her Benelux counterparts have approved a decision whereby Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees awarded by higher education institutions in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg will be automatically recognised throughout the Benelux. This was agreed in Brussels this afternoon by Hilde Crevits (Flemish Government), Jean-Claude Marcourt (Government of the Federation Wallonia-Brussels), Harald Mollers (Government of the German-Speaking Community of Belgium), Jet Bussemaker (Government of the Netherlands) and Marc Hansen (Government of Luxembourg).

Reducing administrative burden

This decision gives residents of each of the 3 Benelux countries legal certainty that their Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees will automatically be recognised in the other 2. Complicated, expensive, time-consuming accreditation procedures will now be a thing of the past. In some cases, these procedures could take as long as 4 months and cost as much as € 200 per person. Each country may however still screen the content of diplomas and professional qualifications awarded in the others.

Incentive for student and worker mobility

The decision also removes an obstacle for residents of the Benelux wanting to work or study in a neighbouring country. It will be a lot easier to study in one of the other countries, as enrolment in their study programmes will go much more smoothly. Transborder worker mobility will also benefit, leading to a closer match between supply and demand on the Benelux labour market. Employers will be able to fill vacancies more easily, and job seekers find work much faster.

European Higher Education Area

This decision is a first for European cooperation on education, in which automatic recognition of higher education diplomas figures prominently on the agenda. With this initiative, the 3 Benelux countries lead the field in Europe, working on a regional basis towards achieving a single European Higher Education Area. This move by the Benelux higher education ministers underscores the notion that trust, based on shared standards and agreements on quality assurance, forms the basis for further cooperation on this subject at European level.