The Joint programmes portal provides information on the quality assurance of joint programmes, including accreditation issues, on the recognition of degrees awarded by joint programmes
In addition, the portal provides a check-list for joint programmes.
There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding joint programmes and their degrees. Most of the confusion is caused by an indistinct use of terminology. From current literature, we find a whole list of terms that in some way relate to joint programmes and their degrees. In addition to joint programmes, joint degrees and multiple degrees, a whole list of confusing terms are being used. To name just a few: collaborative programmes, dual degrees, integrated programmes, double degrees and common degrees. None of these terms have an agreed meaning and therefore mean different things in different contexts. To begin clarifying the concepts used and to come to a more or less common ground for terminology, we need to first distinguish between a programme and a degree.
Joint Programme Checklist: inspired by quality assurance
This publication intends to increase the success of joint programmes by presenting elements deemed to be good practices. The good practices presented come from assessment reports, the formal outcomes of external quality assurance and accreditation procedures. The good practices that make up the so-called checklist were thus put forward by peers and experts. The author read the assessment reports and interpreted the panel’s appraisal as good practice. This appraisal can be very explicit but also be more implicit. Inclusion into the checklist therefore involves some interpretation by the author. The checklist is not presented as a “to do list”. The checklist is to be interpreted as a list of things that might be checked, not as a list of things to be done. Joint programme consortia can use the checklist as a list of elements that might inspire their practice
This article brings together the practical guidelines, suggestions and recommendations from several publications. All practical guidelines are to be considered as general guidance for joint programmes
- Who is to function as coordinator, and whether an executive committee, a programme committee or any other kind of steering committee should be appointed. The committee’s composition and mandate should be specified.
- The financial responsibilities of each partner institution.
- The structure of the programme (including its nominal length, aim/objective, language of instruction, student and teacher mobility).
- Responsibilities relating to the awarding of degrees and diploma design. Information about admission, registration and appeal policy and procedures.
- The students’ financial responsibilities.
- Quality assurance.
- If relevant, Intellectual Property Rights.
- If the agreement is entered into before the study programme is formally approved by all partners, the agreement must contain a clause/proviso stating that the agreement is only valid if the joint degree is approved by all institutions.
- The date of entry into force and duration of the agreement and procedures related to amendments, renewal or termination.
- On which national laws the study programme and the consortium is to be based.
Accreditation and quality assurance of joint programmes is a challenge for both the higher education institutions and the quality assurance agencies. The main apparent difficulty is the fact that the programme is organised by higher education institutions from different higher education systems and that each of these systems have their own systems of external quality assurance. This situation creates a burden for joint programmes that need to meet all the expectations arising from these different (and sometimes contradictory) national contexts and legal requirements.
The Recommendation on the Recognition of Joint Degrees adopted by the Lisbon Recognition Convention encourages to recognise joint degrees at least as favourable as foreign national ones. This is however not always a straightforward matter. To identify a joint degree, credential evaluators have to deal with a challenging amount of information. The publications in this section are aimed at credential evaluators, explore the elements that play a role when evaluating a joint degree and introduce issues that might occur in an evaluation.