Higher education | Mutual degree recognition makes further study more convenient

The mutual recognition of tertiary education degrees between mainland China and Macau, and Portugal and Macau has the potential to make processes more convenient for students who wish to pursue further education and also improve the employment market, the Times has learned.

Last month, Macau signed a mutual degree recognition memorandum with mainland China. Then, only a few weeks later, the Portuguese government published policies for similar recognition between Macau and Portugal.

Both recognition plans suggest that Macau’s associate, bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees will be recognized by mainland China and Portugal. In turn, mainland China and Portugal’s tertiary level degrees will also be recognized by Macau.

Vong Sou Kuan, associate professor of Sociology of Education at the Faculty of Education of the University of Macau, explained to the Times that the recognition may save students trouble when they plan to seek further education in Portugal.

According to Vong’s understanding, without the agreement, Macau students who plan to study in Portugal would need to apply for a degree recognition certificate to be presented to the Portuguese universities at which they intend to study.

Besides concerns regarding students’ overseas education, the absence of recognition may also create difficulties for Macau students who obtained their degrees elsewhere and then returned to Macau for work.

Without the recognition, Macau students who obtain their degrees in Portugal may have their degree tested and reviewed for local employers to confirm the level of their educational background, according to Vong.

“Now, with mutual recognition [with Portugal], it is much more convenient for our students. It is actually convenient as well for Macau’s tertiary education, which becomes more internationally-recognized,” said Vong.

Earlier, Macau’s Higher Education Bureau (DSES) stated that the SAR government is following up on the drafting of administrative regulations for automatic recognition of Portuguese higher education degrees and diplomas in Macau, and that the regulations are expected to take effect this year.

Vong believes that details must be included in Macau’s regulations that clearly state which schools will be eligible for mutual recognition.

According to the memorandum signed between Macau and mainland China, it is suggested that both regions should provide each other with a list of recognized higher education institutes within their territories.

Currently, mainland students who obtain their degrees in Macau also must credit their Macau education certificate in mainland China.

The institutes include those which provide certificates for applied education [associate degrees], bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees. This specific memorandum proposes that mainland holders of applied education degrees from a mainland-recognized higher education institute can apply for a bachelor’s degree in Macau, and that Macau holders of an associate degree from a recognized institute can apply for a bachelor’s degree in mainland China. Bachelor’s degree holders with excellent performance from both regions can apply for a PhD degree directly, skipping the master’s degree.

As of 2019, mainland China has a total of 2,956 higher education institutes.

The Times contacted DSES to ask for more information on mutual degree recognition, including the number of countries or regions which have already signed an agreement with Macau. However, the Times did not receive a reply by press time.

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