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February 23, 2023

Recognition, conversion and translation of non-Australian degrees and qualifications: an overview

In this article we will explain in detail how the recognition of degrees in Australia works; how to obtain it and how to use your bachelor’s or master’s degree to work and migrate to Australia.

Once you become aware of wanting to move to Australia, it often happens that you start a web search and come across articles or government pages that talk about ‘educational requirements for sponsor visas’, ‘qualifications as conditions for obtaining a skills assessment’ or ‘ post-qualification work experience. It therefore becomes clear that a qualification obtained in Italy or elsewhere can in many cases have value and be usable. That’s right: educational qualifications play a central role in Australia both as regards the search for a specialised job and in being able to satisfy entry requirements for university courses but above all for obtaining permanent visas.

Recognition of a nursing or engineering degree in Australia

What is complicated is understanding the value that a qualification obtained in a foreign legal system assumes when one tries to use it in the Australian one. In fact, it is very common for us to receive emails asking for assistance in having a particular Italian degree recognised, such as nursing, to cite an example, or that of the faculties of engineering or political science.

Why have your degree recognised in Australia?

It is important to make a first clarification that justifies the bewilderment that one can feel in this regard: there is no simple and unambiguous answer. First of all, you need to answer some preliminary questions:

  • What is the goal we have associated with the recognition?
  • Who exactly do we want the degree to be recognised by?
  • For the objective we have, is the recognition (of the profession), the conversion of the title or the translation of the degree certificate more suitable? (No, the three terms are not synonymous). Definitions (in order of simplicity):

Translation of the Italian degree:

This is the very simple transposition of the contents of the degree certificate into English. Therefore of the translation of the qualification in the literal sense.

It makes sense to keep in mind that high school diplomas are almost entirely issued in various languages and that Italian universities issue a document free of charge, called the Diploma Supplement, which contains the contents of the degree in English and provides information aimed at facilitating comparison with other qualifications foreigners. If these official language documents are not available, NAATI certified translations are accepted in Australia.

Conversion of educational title only:

This is an official recognition by an authoritative body (Assessing Authority) of only the qualification in isolation from any previous or subsequent work experience. It will probably surprise you: not only is this option the rarest, but it is not even always possible and in the rest of the article we will see precisely why (accento su perché). In this case, the institution analyses the foreign degree and compares it with the analogous reference qualification in Australia and provides the holder with a percentage of similarity. The VETASSESS assessment authority, for example, is able to offer this service for graduates who qualify as financial advisers or for psychologists who need an external assessment of the degree by an acknowledgment body that has the expertise to assess the work experience but not educational qualifications.

Recognition (of the profession):

As can be seen from the intentional use of the parentheses, this process is very different as it is not based only on the educational qualification, but above all on the work experience gained in the years following (and sometimes prior to) obtaining the qualification. This means the mere possession of a degree without any relevant work experience hardly results in obtaining recognition of one’s profession. In Australia we refer to the process just described as Skills Assessment and when this is successful we talk about ‘Positive Skills Assessment’.

You may be interested: what is the Skills Assessment?

The objectives.

Generally the goals that drive us to act towards our qualifications are: (ripetizione di ci spingono)

  • Educational: admission to a degree course or professional courses

When, for example, an Australian university or college needs to recognise our qualification to admit us to another course of study.

Australian universities are satisfied with original qualifications issued in English (such as the High School Diploma or Diploma Supplements) or, in the absence of these, with certified translations.

  • Employment: Obtaining a desired job

In most cases, what you want to achieve in the early stages of your experience in Australia is for an Australian employer to be able to understand what you have studied. Simple example: you have just obtained a specialist degree in marine biology and we are anxious that whoever receives our email with your application is able to understand that the subjects studied at the University coincide with the knowledge required for that position. In this case, the simple translation represents a cost-effective solution, because it could be free or very cheap and in any case be sufficient for your situation. However, sometimes you want to guarantee the owner that your professional figure is comparable to market standards of Australian work (drawn up and classified by the government agency ANZSCO – Australia and New Zealand Standard Classification of the Occupations). Simple example: it is easy to find CVs with years and years of vaunted managerial experience in the sales sector. Not infrequently the employer discovers, with disappointment, that this is actually more or less occasional and that it is more operational than managerial. In this case, one way to guarantee the authenticity not only of the educational qualification but also of the related work experience is to include recognition in one’s application, i.e. a positive Skills Assessment (which in the case of managers in the sales sector is issued by the ‘Institute for Managers and Leaders). The inclusion of recognition of one’s profession in a job application instead becomes a necessity rather than a choice when the desired job can be exercised in Australia if in the presence of recognition or a qualification from an Assessing Authority. This is the case for many medical professions: an example above all is that relating to holders of a nursing degree, who can work in Australia only after having obtained full recognition of their profession (as well as a state exam). In summary, if the goal is simply to work in Australia, it makes sense to proceed with an intense practice such as the recognition of one’s profession only if this is really necessary.

Degree conversion for migration purposes: stay in Australia for the long term.

The conversion of educational qualifications is, in most cases, a phase that is part of a strategy with the aim of permanent migration. In fact, all the independent migration programs (also called Skilled Visa) have the access requirement precisely to obtain recognition of the profession (positive Skills Assessment). We saw earlier that if you simply want to work in Australia, for less complex professions it’s not worth trying the process of recognising your profession. Let’s take an example: the hairdresser. Being conversant with the profession, it is not difficult to get a job as a hairdresser in Australia without recognition; however, this becomes essential for obtaining permanent residence through an independent migration program such as the Skilled Nominated Subclass 190 visa, which requires recognition from the Assessing Authority Trade Recognition Australia.

You may be interested: what is the 190 visa?

Recognition of qualifications to apply visa 186

Not only independent migration programs, but also some permanent migration programs through employer appointment require recognition of one’s profession: this is the case of Subclass 186 – Direct Entry Stream (through which permanent residence can be obtained through an employer but without restrictions term with it) or even the case of Subclass 494 Regional Employer Sponsored (allowing sponsors in regional areas for jobs not available in urban areas).

You may be interested: what is the 186 visa?

Skill Level 4-5 Recognition

Finally, the recognition of the profession becomes important for professions that appear among the less complex (Skill Level 4-5) such as bartender, floor supervisor or beautician, when these programs are compatible with permanent residence through special agreements between regional territories and federal government: the so-called DAMA Agreements.

Example: Beauticians can obtain permanent visas in Cairns under the provisions of the DAMA Agreement Far North Queensland, but only with Trade Recognition Australia recognising the profession.

Nursing degree recognised in Australia

In rare cases it is possible that work experience is not necessary to obtain recognition of one’s profession. Examples are some degrees (such as nursing or teaching) if these were obtained in Australia or in a compatible system such as the UK, New Zealand or Canada. The nursing degree obtained in England, for example, is recognised in Australia much more simply than the Italian one. Even figures who do not require a university degree such as the Community Worker can be included in permanent migration programs such as the 190 visa in New South Wales and obtain recognition with a simple Diploma of Community Services as long as this has been accredited by the ACWA Assessing Authority.

You may be interested in: working as a nurse in Australia

Recognition of the profession. Yes, but which one?

A not uncommon problem is identifying the profession for which to apply for recognition. This is because each qualification can be associated with different job positions and give different recognitions as a result. The basic problem is that even very similar positions can have access to very different migration programs (some that give the possibility of permanent residence, while others don’t, or not everywhere). Let’s take a simple example: a degree in Marketing and Communication.

On the basis of the work experience gained after obtaining the qualification, recognition can be obtained as:

  • Degree in Marketing + 1 year or more of marketing experience: recognition possible as a Marketing Specialist
  • Degree in Marketing + 1 year or more of experience in the advertising sector: recognition possible as an Advertising Specialist
  • Degree in Marketing + 1 year or more of management experience in the advertising sector: recognition possible as Advertising Manager
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing + 1 year or more of Sales Management experience: possible recognition as Sales and Marketing Manager
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing + 3 years experience in a non-marketing related field as Customer Service Management Experience: recognition possible as Sales and Customer Service Manager
  • Degree in Marketing + 3 years of experience in a non-marketing related field such as experience analysing business related data: recognition possible as Business Analyst

Now, all these professions have different migration schedules.

You may be interested in: Study marketing in Australia

Engineering degree recognised in Australia?

A contrary case instead concerns the profession of the engineer. Let’s go back to the examples: the Italian degree in mechanical engineering is recognised in Australia, but then the Assessing Authority must find a correspondence between the specialisation of the degree and the field of application of work experience.

Are there unrecognisable degrees?

Technically speaking, no, because having a degree means being able to show the Australian government that you fall into the so-called ‘Skill Level 1’, that is the category of graduates. However, there are less expendable degrees, such as those dealing specifically with legal systems outside the Australian one.

Can I have my law degree recognised?

A law degree, if obtained in Italy, specialises in laws that are not usable or valid in the Australian legal system. Therefore, using it for a recognition as a Lawyer or Solicitor is not possible, but this does not mean that it is not expendable. In fact, it would be possible to use it to be admitted to a Master of Law or to associate it with three years of experience in certain tasks such as marketing experience, however they would still give a positive result for recognition as a Marketing specialist (which would not be possible without a degree). Obviously, unlike those with a degree in Marketing, with a degree in law the years of experience to obtain recognition as a Marketing specialist must be three and not one, because the degree is not recognised by the Assessing Authority as ‘Highly Relevant’.

Moral of the story: there are no unrecognisable degrees, only some that are less expendable.

The article is long, it could go on and on, but it stops here. If you feel lost, it’s normal: it’s not easy to have an overall view of the situation, and despite the attempt to put things in order, an article can only do it up to a certain point.

What can help you tidy up is to put your specific circumstances at the center of the analysis (professional profile, immigration history, age, level of English, geographical position, etc.) and obtain a migration plan! This is what we do during the course of a consultation!

Book one today with one of our agents!

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