The essence of the Lisbon Recognition Convention

The Lisbon Recognition Convention aims to facilitate inbound and outbound international mobility of students, academics, and professionals with academic credentials and/or qualifications. These include:
  • internationally trained individuals who settle in Canada; and/or
  • individuals with academic credentials and/or qualifications issued in Canada who settle outside Canada.
The convention stipulates that:
  • requests for recognition should be assessed in a fair and timely fashion;
  • recognition should be granted unless a substantial difference can be demonstrated;
  • through their national information centres, competent authorities should disseminate information on their respective education systems, including:
    • quality-assurance practices;
    • list of educational institutions;
    • academic programs;
    • academic credentials and qualifications.

Detailed information is published in the Lisbon Recognition Convention and its Explanatory Report.

What is a “substantial difference”?

An organization will try to determine whether any substantial differences exist when comparing an academic credential and/or qualification issued outside Canada to one that is issued within its own jurisdiction's education system.

Such differences may involve:
  • the quality-assurance practices associated with the academic program and/or educational institution;
  • learning outcomes;
  • the function of the qualification, such as providing access to further studies, research, and/or employment.

It should not insist that the foreign academic credential and/or qualification be identical to that issued within the local education system, as that in itself does not constitute a substantial difference.

The burden of proof lies with the organization responsible for recognition of the credential and/or qualification, and not with the individual who wishes to access further studies, research, and/or employment.