Evaluation methodology

Evaluation methodology used in the procedures for the recognition of foreign qualifications in Italy


In its procedures for the evaluation of foreign qualifications, CIMEA applies a methodology in line with the criteria established by the Lisbon Recognition Convention and in line with the practices shared at international level by the centres linked to the ENIC and NARIC networks.


General principles 

CIMEA, during its evaluations, in addition to the founding elements provided for by the Lisbon Recognition Convention, applies the following general principles:

  • The evaluation of foreign qualifications is performed on a case-by-case basis, evaluating the individual qualification in correspondence with and according to the purpose for which recognition is requested in Italy.

  • The refusal of recognition is based on the concept of "substantial difference", both in consideration of the elements of the corresponding foreign and Italian qualifications, and also taking into consideration the structural elements of the foreign system in question on the basis of the general organization of the legislative code and the Italian higher education system.

  • The mere absence of a document required in the recognition procedure does not imply the impossibility of an evaluation, unless this document is crucial in proving the authenticity of the qualification, its award or contains one of the fundamental elements of the qualification that is crucial for a correct evaluation.

  • In the case of refusal of recognition with reference to the requested purpose, the possibility of partial recognition of the foreign qualification will be taken into consideration.

  • The assessment of the foreign qualification is only possible for official qualifications in the system of reference, that is, as issued by accredited/recognized institutions: not all qualifications considered official in a foreign system will be found acceptable for recognition in Italy in cases where one or more substantial differences exist.

  • The assessment of a foreign qualification takes into account the status of the institution that issued the final credential ( awarding institution), and of the one where the studies actually took place or which organized them (teaching institution).

  • It is possible to evaluate a foreign qualification where there is correspondence within the Italian system, both in terms of type and subject.

  • The assessment is based on official documents in the original language issued by the country or by the foreign institution in question: any other document, such as a translation or self-certification, is to be considered as support for an evaluation, but does not replace or influence the intrinsic process of the evaluation.

  • The award of a foreign qualification through "special" procedures or paths, which differ from the ordinary methods of awarding the qualification or which are the result of methods of evaluation carried out by foreign institutions or centres, are generally to be considered as cases of "substantial difference".

  • In addition to the understanding of the contents of the qualification, the assessment also takes into account the modalities in which the foreign qualification was obtained/awarded.

  • A previous assessment concerning similar qualifications has no binding power over future evaluations, as the education path is to be considered as a single and unique case.

Elements of the foreign qualification


CIMEA, in order to guarantee the correct evaluation of foreign qualifications, gathers the following information for each individual qualification to be evaluated:

  • Official name of the qualification (in the original language)
  • Official name and status of the institution that has awarded the qualification ( awarding institution)

  • Official name and status of the institution which provided the tuition – where different from the former case ( teaching institution)

  • Accreditation/recognition of the course
  • Nature of qualification
  • Level of qualification
  • Length of course
  • Number of credits
  • Academic and professional rights
  • Specific elements (e.g. the presence of a final thesis)
  • Study curriculum

These elements can be found directly in the official documentation provided by the holder of the qualification, or through official sources in the country that awarded the certificate.


Elements of the foreign system


CIMEA, in order to arrive at a correct evaluation of foreign qualifications, obtains the following information on each single foreign system of school and higher education, as well as on the basis of and in consideration of any reforms that have modified these elements at national level:


School education and final qualification

  • Years of schooling required for access to higher education
  • Existence of different scholastic institutions and of different final qualifications in upper secondary schools (diversified/non-diversified systems)

  • Denomination of diploma(s) awarded at end of secondary school and the higher education institutions they provide access to

  • Existence of a mandatory national exam to proceed to higher education
  • Existence of specific elements required by institutions to access higher education
  • Institution or body that awards final qualification

Higher education

  • Binary or unique system of higher education
  • Denomination of academic qualifications and their specific qualifications
  • System of evaluation of progress and methodology used by institutions for grades
  • System of credits or of measurement of “weight” of each course
  • Institution or body which awards final qualification
  • Qualifications which permit access to subsequent courses
  • Consequential or non-consequential higher education system
  • Nature of higher education courses in consideration of the status of the institution and the type of final qualification
  • Obligation of a final exam and its type
  • Existence of an academic qualification awarded together with the study title
  • Existence of a professional qualification awarded together with the study title

Further elements

  • Legislation and national rules: laws and principal norms on the subject of secondary and higher education

  • International, bilateral or multilateral agreements on the subject of recognition of qualifications and/or the standardisation of systems

  • Rules for accreditation/recognition of higher education institutions
  • Rules for accreditation/recognition of single study programmes
  • Existence of a quality control system at a central or local level, or devolved to other bodies
  • Existence of a quality control system for institutions belonging to a national system that operate abroad

Required documentation


The documentation requested by CIMEA is relevant in order to understand the elements of the foreign system and those of the qualification to be evaluated.


As the assessment is carried out on a case-by-case basis, and also considering the fact that a qualification may have been obtained following different paths, the documentation requested by CIMEA is based on each individual case and may vary depending on the foreign country of reference of the qualification, where the studies took place and the institution(s) involved in the procedure.

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