Unions have an opportunity to advance a vision of the constructive internationalization of the teaching profession. One key step is the effective recognition and transferability of teacher qualifications to facilitate migration. 

Migrant teachers are often put at a disadvantage or relegated to a lower status if the value of their qualifications and experience are not recognized in another country. Yet the process towards credential recognition for many migrant teachers is met with rigid bureaucratic opposition. Professionals are often required to undertake several steps including:

  • Getting accepted as an authorized immigrant
  • Satisfying gatekeepers in the new country’s educational system
  • Following policies and procedures at the national or federal, state or province, and sometimes local levels
  • Obtaining clearance from law enforcement to work with children
  • Proving personal suitability and language proficiency to employers, such as verifying previous employment
  • Getting placed in a school

These steps can at times introduce new forms of discrimination, disenchantment, and distress. One teacher describes his experience trying to get qualified to teach Physical Education in Australia’s public schools as follows:

To get my NSW accreditation you have to do two weeks to prove that you are a teacher, even though you’ve gone through an eighteen month application process to show every singe CV, every single written reference, you’ve backed it up with evidence upon evidence and when you get here, they still won’t let you teach. You then have to … I said ‘but I’ve already given you this’ and they say, ‘no no, this is a separate process’. This process goes on for months.

-- In Reid, Carol, Jock Collins and Michael Singh. Global Teachers, Australian Perspectives: Goodbye Mr Chips, Hello Ms Banerjee. Singapore: Springer Science+Business Media, 2014.

Most teachers persist through the process because qualifications are used to set pay. However, deskilling and the recertification process have also been called “exhausting and discriminatory” hurdles to integration. 

The Commonwealth addressed the issue of teacher qualification recognition standards and qualifications frameworks. A Secretariat-commissioned study investigated the extent to which teacher qualifications and professional registration were recognized and transferable across member states.  Many countries had developed national qualifications frameworks (NQFs) to improve the transferability of credentials and facilitate migration. Over 50 NQFs were in place, and three were in development at the regional level.  The authors suggest using professional registration to benchmark teacher status internationally, which they argue would benefit the individual teacher and the receiving country (Morrow et al., 2006).

A follow-up study used data from 35 Commonwealth countries to compare significantly different teacher qualifications. The authors looked at several criteria including professional requirements for teaching, duration of the qualification, practical workplace component, entry level of the qualification and its location on the pathway to fully qualified status (Keevy & Jansen, 2010). They found that a Bachelor’s in Education is the preferred qualification for both primary and secondary teachers, though “a high level of explicitness and transparency of what a qualification means across institutions and borders is a near impossible task.” 


Keevy, James and Jonathan Jansen. Commonwealth Teacher Qualifications Comparability Table. London: Commonwealth Secretariat, 2010.

Keevy, James. “Recognizing Teacher Qualifications in the Commonwealth: Exploring the Language of Comparability.” In Global Mobility and Migration of Teachers: Issues, Identities and Infringements, edited by Sadhana Manik and Anand Singh, 109-114. Delhi: Kamla-Raj Enterprises, 2011.

Morrow, Wally and James Keevy (2006), The Recognition of Teacher Qualifications and Professional Registration Status across Commonwealth Member States. London: Commonwealth Secretariat.