US-European academic collaboration via transatlantic joint and dual degree programs

Back in May 2008, we profiled a call for input into a survey by the US-based Institute of International Education (IIE) and the Germany-based Freie Universität Berlin regarding joint and dual/double degrees (see ‘Special survey on transatlantic joint and dual/double degree programs’). We’re interested in this phenomenon as it helps to suture together and de-nationalize, albeit unevenly, higher education systems, institutions, pedagogical practices, and learning outcomes. See, for example, the insights developed in these three guest entries for GlobalHigherEd:

The IIE/ Freie Universität Berlin survey results have just been posted here and here. I’ve pasted in the full press release, below, for those who want a summary of the free report before deciding if it should be downloaded.

iiefubreportcoverNew Survey Examines U.S.-European Academic Collaboration
Research Report Provides Data on Transatlantic Joint and Dual Degree Programs

NEW YORK and BERLIN, January 22, 2009 — In today’s global economy, professional collaboration with colleagues and customers in other countries is important for successful careers in business, government and academia. A new study by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the Freie Universität Berlin finds that universities on both sides of the Atlantic are working to establish more international joint and dual degree programs to make their campuses more international and better prepare their students, but participation in and support for such endeavors varies widely among institutions and countries. In particular, the study found that European campuses currently offer twice as many collaborative degrees, and European students are more likely to participate than their U.S. counterparts. The fact that 87% of respondents said that they wanted to develop more joint and dual degree programs attests to the growing importance of this form of academic cooperation.

A new report, “Joint and Double Degree Programs in the Transatlantic Context,” released today by IIE and Freie Universität Berlin, examines the key findings of an extensive survey conducted in spring 2008, based on responses from 180 higher education institutions in the United States and the European Union. The report assesses the current landscape of transatlantic degree programs and identifies inherent challenges and opportunities of expanding existing or developing new programs. It is available for download at: www.iie.org or at www.tdp-project.de.

The survey and report are part of a project sponsored by the “European Union-United States Atlantis Program” jointly administered and funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) and the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education and Culture. The project was launched in cooperation with several leading U.S. and European institutions: the Institute of International Education and the State University of New York (in the U.S.), and Freie Universität Berlin, the Franco-German University, and the Latvian Rectors’ Council (in the E.U.).

Later this year, the project partners will also publish a Transatlantic Degree Programs (TDP) Manual for Institutions, which is intended to serve as a key resource to institutions who wish to build or expand transatlantic joint or dual degree programs. Individual articles will provide practical recommendations on removing barriers and overcoming challenges in the development of these types of programs and highlight key issues related to establishing, managing and sustaining collaborative degree programs with a particular focus on the transatlantic context. Faculty members and university administrators with experience in developing and maintaining joint and dual/double degree programs are invited to submit articles to the Manual. Deadline for submitting articles is March 15, 2009. A call for papers is available on the websites mentioned above.

Major findings of Joint and Dual/Double Degree Programs in the Transatlantic Context report include:

  • European institutions are about twice as likely to offer at least one joint degree as U.S. institutions and offer about twice as many such degrees as U.S. institutions.
  • U.S. students are less likely than European students to participate in collaborative degree programs.
  • Top 5 partner countries for European institutions: United States, France, Spain, Germany and the UK. Top 5 partner countries for U.S. institutions: Germany, China, France, Mexico, South Korea/Spain
  • The most popular academic disciplines for collaborative degree programs are Business and Management and Engineering.
  • English is by far the most commonly used language of instruction, but the majority of responding institutions indicate that their programs offered language training both at home and abroad.
  • Dual or double degrees appear to be much more common than joint degrees.
  • U.S. institutions are much more likely to cover costs with student fees than European institutions. EU institutions tend to draw more funding from university budgets and external sources (such as foundations, governments, etc).
  • A large majority of responding institutions plan to continue to develop more joint and dual/double degrees.
  • The motivations for launching joint and dual/double degree programs appear to revolve largely around advancing the internationalization of the campus and raising international visibility and prestige of the institution.
  • The most important challenges for both EU and U.S. institutions appear to be securing adequate funding, and ensuring sustainability of the program. U.S. institutions also report challenges in securing institutional support and recruiting students, while EU institutions are more likely to encounter difficulties in designing the curriculum and agreeing on credit transfer recognition.

The Atlantis Program also sponsors a grant competition to promote a student-centered, transatlantic dimension to higher education and training in a wide range of academic and professional disciplines. The program will fund collaborative efforts to develop programs of study leading to joint or dual undergraduate or graduate degrees. The deadline to apply for 2009 grants is March 23, 2009. Information on the Atlantis Program and the application process is available at: www.ed.gov/programs/fipseec/index.html or http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/extcoop/usa/2009/call_us_eu_2009.htm

# # #

Note that the US Council of Graduate Schools is also working on a report regarding such degrees, clearly highlighting a surge in interest in all aspects of their development, operation, and efficacy.

Kris Olds

Special survey on transatlantic joint and dual/double degree programs (1 May deadline)

The long history of transatlantic higher education relations has resulted in a myriad of impacts, including the formation of now iconic American institutions (e.g., Johns Hopkins University), core concepts underlying academic life (e.g., academic freedom), the protection of scholars at risk (e.g., the University in Exile), the rapid growth of universities in the 1960s and 1970s as European professors filled the posts needed to support a burgeoning student population, and the research capacity today of both Canada and the US (something the EU is seeking to track via their ERA-Link program).

The transatlantic relationship has evolved, of course, and now includes a growing number of joint and dual/double degree programs. This said virtually no one has a broad understanding of the nature nor impact of these programs.

Given this lacunae of knowledge, and given the significant interest demonstrated in our series regarding international double and joint degrees:

we are happy to support the Freie Universität Berlin (via their Transatlantic Degree Programs Project (TDP), and the Institute of International Education (IIE), as they coordinate a special survey on transatlantic joint and dual/double degree programs.

fublogo2.jpgiielogo.jpg

The survey is available here, and the responses are due by May 1. Please consider filling the survey out if you have established or manage such degrees.

As the survey organizers put it:

The overall goal of the survey is to assess the current landscape of transatlantic degree programs, identify inherent challenges and opportunities of expanding existing or developing new programs, and to solicit best practices. So far, there is only limited information available on the number and types of transatlantic programs, the higher education institutions involved in developing these programs, and the disciplines in which such programs have been established. This survey aims to fill that gap and create an inventory of existing models and examples of transatlantic curriculum cooperation.

By collecting this information, we hope to provide valuable information for higher education professionals and policymakers on the current transatlantic degree programs landscape, including an analysis of the challenges and barriers to developing them and recommendations and guidelines for universities on both sides of the Atlantic to implement successful programs.

The survey results will be used to create an International Degree Programs Manual. Codification and guidance (via manuals) brings with it pros and cons, but we can all benefit from enhancing our understanding on this emerging phenomenon, especially given the incredible amount of energy required to bring these degrees to life.

Kris Olds & Susan Robertson

Engaging globally through joint and double degree programmes: a view from Singapore

Editor’s note: further to Kavita Pandit’s entry yesterday (‘Engaging globally through dual degree programs: SUNY in Turkey‘), Lily Kong‘s entry here also focuses on joint and double degree programmes, at the undergraduate level, though from the perspective of a senior administrator and scholar of cultural change who is based in Singapore. Lily Kong is Vice-President (University and Global Relations) for the National University of Singapore (NUS), and also Director of the Asia Research Institute. One of her previous entries in GlobalHigherEd focused on international consortia of universities. Both entries reflect NUS’ role as a relatively global university, partly spurred on by the nature of higher education policy in this Southeast Asian city-state, and partly by the forces underlying Singapore’s development process.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

International agendas for many universities today almost invariably include a student exchange/study abroad component. In fact, for some, setting and reaching a self-imposed target to send a certain proportion of each cohort on such programmes can become a consuming affair, never mind the quality of the actual experience.

Another common expression of the international ambitions of many universities is the facilitation of education tourism (perhaps described in more exalted ways). In many cases, students travel together under the care of a lecturer, learn about another country, but stay in their “environmental bubble”, remaining part of the large group from their home university and within a safe comfort zone.

There are other expressions yet of global ambitions among universities and while they are fraught with a range of difficulties, there are of course also many positive ways in which such programmes have been implemented, and from which students learn much.

In Singapore, not only do universities roll out programmes such as these, so too are secondary schools and junior colleges actively involved in promoting and facilitating such overseas experiences. In a country where overseas private travel for leisure is common and has been on the rise (any flight is a flight out of the country), the question that needs to be asked is how local HEIs can provide for stimulating and meaningful international experiences when many young people have literally been there and done that.

nuscampus.jpgIn the last three to four years, the National University of Singapore has negotiated joint and double degrees with overseas partners for undergraduate courses of study (preceding these by quite some years were graduate level joint/double degrees). They offer that qualitatively (and quantitatively) different experience for students, so they present a value proposition to many who had in their earlier years of education already gone on a short exchange to Australia or visited Shakespeare-land in a school group.

What a joint degree means and how it is different from a double/dual degree is not as common knowledge as I had previously assumed. When approaching other universities with the concept and proposal to explore possibilities, I have been surprised by how some with very explicit global/international rhetoric have never thought about these options.

The versions I am familiar with are as follows. A joint degree student spends the same amount of time obtaining the degree as a single degree student, and about half the period of candidature is spent in a partner institution. He/she obtains a single degree with two university imprimaturs upon graduation. A double/dual degree student usually spends more time than required for a single degree but less time required for two separate degrees and obtains two degrees upon graduation. The time saved comes from “double-counting” some courses. Again, about half the total period of candidature is spent in the partner institution.

These joint and double degree programmes have been attractive for a variety of reasons for students at NUS. For those desirous of an overseas education/degree but for whom that is not possible (e.g. financial constraints, familial conditions), the shortened period overseas becomes a nice middle-ground. For those tentative but curious about a full overseas education, this too provides a comfortable combination. Others have recognized the advantages of two sets of educational, social and cultural experiences, and developing two sets of friendships and networks. And of course, the value of two degrees in less time or one degree from two prestigious institutions is a draw in itself. Indeed, this has become a significant part of NUS’ strategy to attract some of the brightest students in Singapore to study at NUS, and early indications are that it is working.

NUS now has joint undergraduate degrees with Australia National University (in physics, chemistry, mathematics, economics/actuarial studies, history, philosophy, English literature), the University of Melbourne (civil engineering), and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (in geography, political science, history, English literature, and economics).

The challenges of setting up these arrangements are not trivial. Often, the transaction costs are very high. Setting up the joint undergraduate degrees named above, for example, entailed many rounds of careful discussions and many levels of approvals at both institutions. The discussions and agreements have to penetrate to individual faculty in departments, whose curriculum and perhaps even pedagogies have to be modified. This is one of the first challenges, when university or college administrators wish for a variety of reasons to embark on these arrangements but need to have colleagues at the coalface who will be persuaded by their merits enough to work on them.

Setting up the structures and programmes is one thing. Encouraging and identifying appropriate students to sign up for these programmes is another. For Singapore, this has not been a problem. Students have for the most part been enthusiastic about the experience and opportunities that this affords, as mentioned above. But students in Australia and in the U.S. have seemed to need much more encouragement. The pastoral care dimension of students who move across state, social and cultural boundaries also needs careful attention.

Overall, the opportunities have been welcome by students at NUS, and this has been cited by a small, growing number to be the reason for coming to NUS.

Lily Kong

Engaging globally through dual degree programs: SUNY in Turkey

panditaag.jpgEditor’s note: this guest entry has been kindly prepared by Kavita Pandit, Senior Vice Provost, State University of New York (SUNY) System Administration. She joined the SUNY System in July 2007 from the University of Georgia where she worked for over two decades. Dr. Pandit has also acted as President (2006-2007) of the Association of American Geographers. At SUNY her responsibilities as Senior Vice Provost include oversight of International Programs and activities. She also oversees the Office of Program Review and Assessment, Academic Planning, Distinguished Professorships, and Faculty Development programs, and serves as the primary liaison to the Academic Affairs Committee of the SUNY Board of Trustees. Her entry should also be read in conjunction with one published on 15 February by Lily Kong on the National University of Singapore’s experience with such programs.

~~~~~~~~~

A spate of recent articles in the New York Times, Inside Higher Ed, other media outlets, and blogs such as the Beerkens’ Blog and GlobalHigherEd, have examined the growing trend of American universities to establish overseas branch campuses as part of their internationalization strategy. These global outposts are seen as a way of fulfilling the growing demand for U.S. degrees while increasing the international prestige and reputation of the institution. Yet there is also a recognition that establishing campuses in other countries can be a risky venture for American universities because of the high cost involved, the difficulty in ensuring educational quality, and overseas concerns about the undermining of the local culture. A compelling alternative is the establishment of international dual diploma programs that can generate many of the benefits of international branch campuses while building deep and lasting partnerships with overseas universities. An excellent example of this is the State University of New York’s award winning dual diploma strategy in Turkey.

sunylogo.jpgThe State University of New York (SUNY) is comprised of 64 institutions that include major research universities, four-year comprehensive colleges, agriculture and technology colleges, and community colleges. In 2000, the System entered into a partnership with the Turkish Higher Education Council (YÖK), the body with oversight over Turkey’s higher education, to establish dual diploma programs between SUNY and Turkish universities.

yoklogo.jpgUnder this arrangement, Turkish students complete part of their undergraduate education in a Turkish institution and the other at a SUNY institution, fulfilling the requirements of both institutions for a degree in a particular program of study. Instead of the traditional 2+2 articulation (which restricts the overseas partner to delivering only introductory courses) we sought a more equal partnership by requiring students to spend alternating years (or blocks of semesters) in partner universities in a manner that took advantage of the specific academic strengths of each partner institution. Following completion of the requirements, students are then issued two diplomas, one from the Turkish institution and one from the SUNY campus.

sunyturkeyno.jpgIn its first year, 2003-2004, ten dual diploma programs were initiated among three SUNY campuses (SUNY Binghamton, SUNY New Paltz, and Maritime College) and four Turkish universities (Istanbul Technical, Middle East Technical, Bilkent, and Boğaziçi University). More than 3,800 Turkish students applied for 305 slots in the programs, and eventually 262 formally enrolled. Over the next few years, 14 more dual diploma programs were added, and the number of participating universities has grown to 9 SUNY campuses and 9 Turkish universities. Currently about 400 students enroll in the dual diploma programs each year; over the initial five years, nearly 1500 Turkish students enrolled in the various dual diploma programs. The first classes of students have yielded 74 graduates and more than 180 will graduate in 2008.

For SUNY, the advantages of the dual diploma program were manifold. The program allowed SUNY campuses that previously had limited engagement in the international sphere, particularly the Middle East, to open the horizons of their institutions and their students. Through faculty exchanges with Turkish universities, a key part of the arrangement, there was a forging of new research and scholarly collaborations. The partnership with YÖK also helped build SUNY’s reputation in Turkey and draw attention to the quality of programs and faculty in campuses other than its already well known research universities.

bilkent.jpgThe collaboration was also important for the Turkish side. Turkey’s system of universities is only able to accommodate about a quarter of the 1.5 million applicants who take the national university entrance examination administered by the Turkish Higher Education Council. Many highly motivated and well prepared students are turned away. The YÖK-SUNY dual-diploma program provided a way to increase the capacity of the Turkish university system. It also provided an attractive option to Turkish students who were able to receive a diploma from a U.S. university at a fraction of the cost. Not surprisingly, the majority of the Turkish students admitted into the dual diploma program were those that had scored at the 90th percentile or better on the entrance examination.

SUNY’s strategy in Turkey demonstrates how dual diploma programs can address the growing demand for U.S. degrees in a manner that is affordable to international students. Yet it avoids many of the risks and pitfalls of establishing overseas campuses because there is no need for new capital outlays or for hiring overseas faculty. By respecting and preserving the academic integrity of the educational systems of both countries, dual diploma programs are unlikely to evoke concerns about foreign influence over local cultural norms that overseas campuses may generate. Most importantly, dual degree programs are built around academic curricula that are focused on student learning and driven by the faculty. Students are immersed in two cultural and educational environments resulting in a richer education than either university alone can provide. Faculty in both universities are brought together to work out equivalencies in each other’s courses and curriculum, deepening international relationships between programs. Ultimately, by keeping students, faculty, and the integrity of academic programs in sharp focus, dual degree/diploma programs ensure that a university’s engagement in the international sphere never deviates from the core mission of higher education.

Kavita Pandit