A global approach to qualification recognition

Peter Monteath, Regional Director, Europe at Cambridge Assessment International Education, explains how its qualifications are recognised globally

At Cambridge International, we know that our students are often globally mobile and may wish to continue their studies anywhere around the world. This presents a challenge in terms of university recognition and schools frequently ask me how Cambridge qualifications are understood so widely, in so many popular study destinations worldwide. 

For that, we have our Global Recognitions team to thank.

Over the last five years, our Global Recognitions team has grown substantially, with recognitions experts based in the US, India, South Africa, Pakistan, Singapore and in China, as well as in Cambridge to cover the UK, Europe and the Middle East. 

The team works proactively with universities across the globe to make sure Cambridge qualifications are understood and that Cambridge students have a smooth transition to the next phase of their education.

As a result, Cambridge qualifications are accepted by over 1,400 institutions across 195 countries, and the number is growing continuously. In a 2018 survey of higher education admissions tutors at the world’s universities, 100% of respondents said Cambridge programmes give students excellent preparation for university.

Our Cambridge International A-levels offer students choice and flexibility for their higher education studies and research from the UK Universities and Colleges Admissions Service backs this up. From 2014–2017, 95% of Cambridge International A-level students who applied to UK higher education institutions were offered places; 

62% of these applicants were accepted into the UK’s top universities, including all of the Russell Group universities. This compares with only 28% of ‘all’ applicants getting into Russell Group universities.

Over 10 years ago, we set up a US Higher Education Advisory Council (HEAC) to advise us on recognition of Cambridge qualifications in the US. Made up of senior admissions staff from top universities – including Brown, Duke, Florida State, MIT and Washington – the Council helps us increase understanding of Cambridge programmes among admissions offices and also advises on the development of Cambridge qualifications. Now over 600 US universities accept Cambridge qualifications, including all Ivy League and Ivy Plus universities, with many offering advance college credit to students holding Cambridge International AS and A-levels.

The more people we can reach, the better. According to the OECD report Education at a Glance 2018, the global market for international students has grown by 30% since 2011, with the USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand taking advantage of that growth.

They continue to be important destinations for Cambridge students, and we are working closely with universities in those countries as well as looking to expand our relationships in Europe and other regions around the world. The world order is beginning to change. This is something we expect to see reflected in our annual Student Destinations Survey, which we carry out with Cambridge schools worldwide to ensure that we are targeting our recognition resource as effectively as possible.

Recognition goes beyond ensuring our qualifications are accepted. By building relationships with universities around the world, we can ensure that our curriculum and educational programmes such as Cambridge International A-level and Cambridge Pre-U evolve in line with their expectations and the changing nature of global education, and develop the knowledge and skills required. It’s about making sure that when students arrive on campus, they are well positioned to succeed.

Finally, our work with international universities also gives a boost to the recognition of UK qualifications. UK NARIC, the national agency for the recognition and comparison of international qualifications, has benchmarked Cambridge IGCSE and Cambridge International AS and A-level to the standard of the equivalent UK qualification, so, by giving universities worldwide this information, we are in turn helping UK education because our exams are so closely linked.

If schools or students have any questions about how Cambridge qualifications are accepted, there is a wealth of information on our website (including a searchable recognitions database) on our Recognition and acceptance pages.


Visit www.cambridgeinternational.org/recognition for more information.