On 15 March 1971, the Nordic Council of Ministers for Education and Research (MR-U) signed the Agreement on Cultural Co-operation, which sought to improve opportunities by making it easier for higher education students and others to study and to take examinations at educational and training institutions in other Nordic countries, and to ensure the mutual recognition of degrees, partial qualifications and other documentary evidence of educational achievement.
On 9 June 2004, MR-U signed the Nordic Declaration on Recognition of Qualifications Concerning Higher Education (the Reykjavik Declaration). This was based on the Council of Europe and UNESCO’s Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications Concerning Higher Education in the European Region (the Lisbon Recognition Convention, 1997) and its appendices. The Reykjavik Declaration was designed to promote closer co-operation on the mutual recognition of qualifications in higher education in the Nordic region.
After years of close cooperation within the field of recognition, MR-U decided to revise the Declaration and in 2016 an updated agreement was signed. In 2020, the ministers of the European Higher Education Area committed themselves in the Rome Ministerial Communiqué to ensure automatic recognition of academic qualifications. The revised version of the Reykjavik Declaration reflects the long-standing co-operation, commitment to full mutual recognition of educational qualifications as well as the abolishment of educational barriers for mobility in the Nordic Region.
According to the ministers for Nordic co-operation (MR-SAM), one of the key challenges is how to create the best possible conditions for the freedom of movement of people and companies in the region. With this in mind, the Nordic countries, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland will work together to ensure that new national legislation and the way in which the Nordic countries implement EU legislation do not create new barriers to freedom of movement in the region.
The Nordic countries have worked together for many years in the field of education and training, both in the context of the Lisbon Recognition Convention and as members of the European Higher Education Area. As such, the countries have considerable confidence in the existing system of mutual recognition of higher education qualifications. The Nordic Recognition Network (NORRIC) which comprises the ENIC-NARIC offices  in each Nordic country, has actively addressed and solved problems related to recognition, and improved quality and efficiency in recognition practices in the region.
Mutual trust and co-operation constitute the basis for de facto automatic recognition of higher education qualifications between the Nordic countries. Furthermore, the right to apply for admission to the next level of study, has also been embedded in Nordic agreements since 1996. The Agreement on Admission to Higher Education, concluded in 1996 and renewed in 2018, states that ”An applicant who is qualified to apply for admission to higher education in the Nordic country in which he/she is domiciled is also qualified to apply for admission to courses of higher education in the other Nordic countries.”
The Nordic co-operation within recognition will facilitate even closer cooperation on joint assessment guidelines and good practice regarding the recognition of degrees, duration of study and prior learning. The Nordic countries will continue to promote the concept of automatic recognition.
The ministers for education and research established Nordic objectives and guidelines in the original Reykjavik Declaration. This revised version will lead to even closer co-operation between relevant bodies, serve as a basis for adaptation to changing circumstances and facilitate joint follow-up work on developments within higher education at both Nordic and European level.
The revised Reykjavik Declaration, will ensure that:
- higher education qualifications from the region are recognised in the other Nordic countries.
- the Nordic countries work together to maintain mutual trust necessary to further implement automatic recognition.
- the Nordic countries continue to strengthen administrative and methodological co-operation on the evaluation of qualifications obtained in Nordic and other countries, e.g. by establishing working groups and the ongoing exchange of information and good practices in higher education, in particular via the NORRIC Network. The relevant ministries, authorities and higher education institutions in the Nordic region will be actively involved in the co-operation and information exchange.
- national bodies continuously review the way in which the Declaration is implemented and applied, identify topical or actual developments that require special attention, and actively involve relevant stakeholders in this work. MR-U will monitor how this Declaration is being applied in practice and adopt any measures necessitated by developments.
The 5th of May 2022, Trondheim
Jesper Petersen, Minister for Higher Education and Science, Denmark
Li Andersson, Minister of Education, Finland
Ásmundur Einar Daðason, Minister of Education and Children, Iceland
Ola Borten Moe, Minister of Research and Higher Education, Norway
Anna Ekström, Minister for Education, Sweden
Jóannes V. Hansen, Head of Representation, Faroe Islands
Peter P. Olsen, Minister for Education, Culture, Sports and Church, Greenland
Alfons Röblom, Minister of Higher Education, Åland
 European Network of National Information Centres on academic recognition and mobility (ENIC), National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARIC).