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Information Management System

In the context of the recognition of qualifications, the Information Management System is in essence a structured process to organise and handle data essential to fair recognition of qualifications. This process comprises two elements: system- specific information, or scheduled country updates, and qualification-specific information, or research into individual qualifications. These two elements are interconnected and mutually re-enforcing rather than sequential.

For further information on the criteria used by UK NARIC to assess international qualifications, please see the Evaluation Criteria and Methodology.

System-Specific Information

To ensure that evolving standards and changing education provision are faithfully reflected in the recognition process, it is vital to ensure that the information held on national systems and their qualifications is as detailed as possible. System-specific information should include details ranging from structural design and mainstream qualifications to specifications for each level and/or type of awards.

UK NARIC has a range of databases with over 190 country files providing information on each education system, in addition to comparability recommendations and lists of recognised higher education institutions.

The information provided is as follows:

  • Country Description
  • School Education
  • Technical and Vocational Education
  • Higher Education
  • Grading Systems
  • Teacher Education
  • Quality Assurance
  • List of qualifications and how they are compared to the UK education system
  • Lists of Recognised Higher Education Institutions
  • Glossary

UK NARIC has a rolling programme of updates to ensure that country files are as accurate and up-to-date as possible. In addition, priority countries are identified each year to establish where there have been significant changes in the system and major updates are required. The revision of data currently held and the comparative studies of various data should lead to a detailed, country-specific review programme based on needs analysis.

The chart below illustrates the key elements and consequential actions relating to this process:

Chart 1: Influencing Factors to Consider to Identify System-Specific Information Needs

Influencing Factors to Consider to Identify System-Specific Information Needs

Following the identification of information development needs, the process of systematic updating or verification can be structured logically into five stages as detailed below:

Step-by-step Information Updating Process:

Stage One: Desk-Based Research

Desk-based research is an essential initial step to determine areas for information development. This involves a review of the existing data with the view to recognising key issues and demands for information. This step should be a critical analysis designed to provide an audit of data held and information required, enabling knowledge gap identification and intelligence gathering.

The outcome of the desk-based research should highlight specifically the information needed, the level of involvement required and a realistic timeframe.

Stage Two: Data Collection and In-Country Reviews

Data collection and in-country reviews are in essence an intelligence gathering exercise undertaken by experienced personnel with the required skills and prior knowledge of the region [or country or sectors]. Linguistic competence and cultural awareness are also very important. If there are people fluent in a particular language, they are often best placed to undertake an in-country review exercise.

Stage Three: Data Processing and Analysis

To ensure usage of statistically valid data and reliable information, it is important that collected information is carefully analysed prior to publication or its use as part of the recognition process. In some cases, verification and cross checking of information is also required.

Stage Four: Quality Assurance Mechanism

UK NARIC uses two main forms of quality assurance measures to monitor the outcomes of country information reviews. The first is the internal process, where all country file updates must have managerial approval and all decisions on qualification assessments are made collectively by the research team in regular editorial meetings. The second is the external process, which takes the form of critical comments from member organisations and experts in the country under review.

Stage Five: Information Dissemination

The completion of the systematic information development cycle is marked by publication and dissemination. Published information needs to remain diplomatic whilst also expressive to its users. It therefore often needs to hint at prevailing situations rather than use overt statements.

Chart 2: Information Updating Process

The five stages described above can also be illustrated in the flow chart below:

The five stages described above can also be illustrated in the flow chart below

Qualification-Specific Information

In addition to scheduled country updates, UK NARIC also researches and assesses individual qualifications for which there is no existing comparability statement or where it is clear that the existing statement needs to be reviewed.

Using desk-based research, the information needed to assess the qualification is obtained and the qualification is assessed using the established UK NARIC evaluation criteria. Qualification-specific information includes typically 'what and how' elements, i.e. title of the award, content, structure, provider and expected learning outcomes.

The recognition of an individual award may conform to the established, generic comparability statements accorded to a type and range of qualifications. Equally, it may challenge the established recommendations and therefore generate the need for revision of information. Once the information is collected, it will in turn supplement and support individual evaluations.

The chart below demonstrates how qualification-specific information feeds into the Information Management Process.

Chart 3: Relationship Between Qualification-Specific Information And The Information Management Process

Relationship Between Qualification-Specific Information And The Information Management Process