What are international dual & joint degrees?

Higher education institutions around the world are feeling increased pressure to deepen inter-institutional connections and accelerate human mobility. For example, the emergence of ‘global challenges’ such as climate change, disease pandemics, and immigration are leading to mission and organizational repositioning; a dynamic explored in our nine-part (to date) ‘Question’ series.

It is in this context that we need to situate the development and governance of international dual and joint degrees. The opportunities and constraints, as well as risks and rewards, of establishing such collaborative degrees are significant: they have the capacity to alter the educational mission of universities, recast the educational experiences of students, transform the learning outcomes of courses and programs, deepen network relations between universities, and provide a tool for differentiating programs and institutions.

These impacts aside, international collaborative degrees are very resource consuming to establish and sustain, complicated to govern, and difficult to assess regarding impact over time. This partly explains the ongoing efforts of the Freie Universität Berlin and the IIE to conduct the second in a series of important survey about such degrees (further information about the Survey on International Joint and Dual/Double Degree Programs is pasted in at the bottom of this entry). It also explains why the US Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) facilitated some substantial discussion and debate that led to the release of a 2010 report Joint Degrees, Dual Degrees, and International Research Collaborations: A Report on the CGS Graduate International Collaborations Project, and why the European Commission helped fund the informative JOIMAN initiative.

Remarkably, one of the major challenges faced by universities seeking to establish international collaborative degrees is to simply define what they are. And trust me – there are dozens of definitions out there, many of which are vague and indeed contradictory.

What follows are some definitions that were developed in the context of a University of Wisconsin-Madison Dual/Joint Degree Working Group that I participated on in 2010, and which was convened by the dean (Gilles Bousquet) of our Division of International Studies.

Over the course of conducting research on international collaborative degrees to devise our own definitions, and some ‘governance pathways’ for such degrees, it became apparent that there was value in situating dual and joint degrees in a broader internationalization/inter-institutional context. In the end, we developed the following typology which outlines modes of international collaboration that include international dual and joint degrees:

  • Study abroad
  • UW‐Madison as a study abroad site for other universities
  • Student exchange agreements
  • Course‐to‐course transfer of credit, Transfer agreements
  • Articulation agreements
  • Third party contracts for educational delivery
  • Off‐campus program or course location
  • Distance education, distance delivery of educational programs
  • Collaborative course or program sharing
  • Sequential degrees
  • Dual degrees
  • Joint degrees

Not all of these modes of international collaboration, as we deem them, are practiced at UW-Madison.

The DRAFT Working Group reports that were written in 2010 are currently being reviewed within our administrative machinery, but are publicly accessible via the University Academic Planning Council website should you be interested in them. Jocelyn Milner, Associate Vice Provost and Director, Academic Planning and Analysis, was the lead author of the two reports that we all provided input on.

Given that many other institutions are also struggling with the issue of how to handle international dual/joint degrees, I’ll take the above typology, and edit out the Madisonian elements of the definitions, thereby providing you (from University X) with some definitions worth reflecting on and debating.

Needless to say, I would appreciate being sent your university’s reports about international collaborative degrees, assuming some exist and can be made public. You can email them to me at <kolds@wisc.edu> or list them in the comments section to this entry. I’ll compile the responses, knit them in with the resources we’ve collected over the last year (some of which are available here), and create a subsequent entry in GlobalHigherEd that outlines all available resources (books, reports, websites) for universities considering the establishment of international collaborative degrees. In short, today’s entry is a defacto call for more collaboration and information sharing about an emerging global higher ed phenomenon; one that is being driven forward for a range of reasons, yet is not so simple to bring to life and govern.

Summary of Modes of International Collaboration

  • Study Abroad: Students participate in a program operated through University of X in which University of X students enroll at a foreign university for a period of up to one (1) year. Students are awarded credit when the course credit they earned while in the program is transferred back to University of X.
  • University of X as Study Abroad Site For Other Universities: Students enrolled at a foreign university attend University of X as participants in a Study Abroad program established by their home university with University of X as the study abroad site for a period of up to one (1) year. Students earn credit when the course credit is transferred back to their home university.
  • Student Exchange Agreements: Reciprocal arrangement in which University of X students study at a partner institution and partner institution students study at University of X for a period of up to one year. University of X students transfer credit earned away back to University of X.
  • CoursetoCourse Credit Transfer, Transfer “Contracts”: Pre‐arranged recognition of the equivalency of specific courses at one institution to the corresponding course at University of X. For degree‐seeking undergraduates.
  • Articulation Agreement or Program: Allows undergraduate students who have completed a specified curriculum at partner institution to apply to University of X and enroll with advanced standing into a specific program even though the curricula at the partner institution would not transfer directly to meet preparatory requirements at University of X.  Usually for undergraduate programs.
  • Third-Party Contract for Course Delivery Arrangements: University of X contracts with a third-party for delivery of courses.  In this case the third party would be an organization that is either not an institution of higher learning, or is one that is outside the home country.
  • Off-Campus Program or Course Location (in-state, out-of-state, international): University of X courses are delivered by University of X faculty and staff who are physically present at a remote site.
  • Distance Education, Distance Delivery of Academic Programs: University of X courses are delivered by University of X faculty and staff via distance technology.
  • Collaborative Course or Program Resource Sharing: University of X has a wide variety of arrangement with other universities in which curricular and educational resources are shared to leverage strengths of partner institutions and create synergy. Because of the variety of formats, these are challenging to classify.
  • Sequential Degrees: Formalized arrangement in which students earn a specified degree at a partner institution and then applies to, enrolls in, and completes a second, related program at University of X. Courses from the first program may be used to waive requirements in the University of X program. Students will still be required to meet all University of X program and degree requirements.
  • Dual Degrees: Students complete the requirements for two degrees from two institutions, with efficiencies in course taking.  Each institution is primarily responsible for its own degree.
  • Joint Degrees: A single degree authorized and conferred by two or more partner institutions; faculty, governance groups, governance boards share authority.

Kris Olds

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Survey on International Joint and Dual/Double Degree Programs
Submission Deadline: February 15, 2011 [EXTENDED TO 15 MARCH]

The Institute of International Education (IIE) and the Freie Universität Berlin are conducting the first global survey on international joint and dual/double degree programs.

The survey addresses higher education institutions in all world regions, and seeks to assess the current landscape of joint and dual/double degree programs. By collecting this information, we hope to provide valuable information for higher education professionals and policymakers on current trends, including an analysis of the challenges and barriers to developing them and recommendations and guidelines for universities to implement successful programs. This is a unique opportunity to significantly expand knowledge about current trends in joint and dual/double degree programs.

To complete the survey, please go to: http://iie.vovici.net/wsb.dll/s/6cg32d

A summary of the results will be made available on the IIE website. Please complete the survey before February 15, 2011.

Thank you very much for participating in this survey, which should take no more than 20 minutes to complete, once you have gathered the relevant data. If you have any questions, please contact Matthias Kuder at matthias.kuder@fu-berlin.de

This is a follow-on survey to an EU-US Atlantis Program-funded study conducted in 2008 that focused specifically on collaborative degree programs in the transatlantic context. The results of this previous transatlantic survey are available on www.iienetwork.org/page/TDP/

From rhetoric to reality: unpacking the numbers and practices of global higher ed

ihepnov2009Numbers, partnerships, linkages, and collaboration: some key terms that seem to be bubbling up all over the place right now.

On the numbers front, the ever active Cliff Adelman released, via the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), a new report titled The Spaces Between Numbers: Getting International Data on Higher Education Straight (November 2009). As the IHEP press release notes:

The research report, The Spaces Between Numbers: Getting International Data on Higher Education Straight, reveals that U.S. graduation rates remain comparable to those of other developed countries despite news stories about our nation losing its global competitiveness because of slipping college graduation rates. The only major difference—the data most commonly highlighted, but rarely understood—is the categorization of graduation rate data. The United States measures its attainment rates by “institution” while other developed nations measure their graduation rates by “system.”

The main target audience of this new report seems to be the OECD, though we (as users) of international higher ed data can all benefit from a good dig through the report. Adelman’s core objective is facilitating the creation of a new generation of indicators, indicators that are a lot more meaningful and policy-relevant than those that currently exist.

Second, Universities UK (UUK) released a data-laden report titled The impact of universities on the UK economy. As the press release notes:

Universities in the UK now generate £59 billion for the UK economy putting the higher education sector ahead of the agricultural, advertising, pharmaceutical and postal industries, according to new figures published today.

This is the key finding of Universities UK’s latest UK-wide study of the impact of the higher education sector on the UK economy. The report – produced for Universities UK by the University of Strathclyde – updates earlier studies published in 1997, 2002 and 2006 and confirms the growing economic importance of the sector.

The study found that, in 2007/08:

  • The higher education sector spent some £19.5 billion on goods and services produced in the UK.
  • Through both direct and secondary or multiplier effects this generated over £59 billion of output and over 668,500 full time equivalent jobs throughout the economy. The equivalent figure four years ago was nearly £45 billion (25% increase).
  • The total revenue earned by universities amounted to £23.4 billion (compared with £16.87 billion in 2003/04).
  • Gross export earnings for the higher education sector were estimated to be over £5.3 billion.
  • The personal off-campus expenditure of international students and visitors amounted to £2.3 billion.

Professor Steve Smith, President of Universities UK, said: “These figures show that the higher education sector is one of the UK’s most valuable industries. Our universities are unquestionably an outstanding success story for the economy.

See pp 16-17 regarding a brief discussion of the impact of international student flows into the UK system.

These two reports are interesting examples of contributions to the debate about the meaning and significance of higher education vis a vis relative growth and decline at a global scale, and the value of a key (ostensibly under-recognized) sector of the national (in this case UK) economy.

And third, numbers, viewed from the perspectives of pattern and trend identification, were amply evident in a new Thomson Reuters’ report (CHINA: Research and Collaboration in the New Geography of Science) co-authored by the data base crunchers from Evidence Ltd., a Leeds-based firm and recent Thomson Reuters acquisition. One valuable aspect of this report is that it unpacks the broad trends, and flags key disciplinary and institutional geographies to China’s new geography of science. As someone who worked at the National University of Singapore (NUS) for four years, I can understand why NUS is now China’s No.1 institutional collaborator (see p. 9), though the why issues are not discussed in this type of broad mapping cum PR report for Evidence & Thomson Reuters.

Table4

Shifting tack, two new releases about international double and joint degrees — one (The Graduate International Collaborations Project: A North American Perspective on Joint and Dual Degree Programs) by the North American Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), and one (Joint and Double Degree Programs: An Emerging Model for Transatlantic Exchange) by the International Institute for Education (IIE) and the Freie Universität Berlin — remind us of the emerging desire to craft more focused, intense and ‘deep’ relations between universities versus the current approach which amounts to the promiscuous acquisition of hundreds if not thousands of memoranda of understanding (MoUs).

IIEFUBcoverThe IIE/Freie Universität Berlin book (link here for the table of contents) addresses various aspects of this development process:

The book seeks to provide practical recommendations on key challenges, such as communications, sustainability, curriculum design, and student recruitment. Articles are divided into six thematic sections that assess the development of collaborative degree programs from beginning to end. While the first two sections focus on the theories underpinning transatlantic degree programs and how to secure institutional support and buy-in, the third and fourth sections present perspectives on the beginning stages of a joint or double degree program and the issue of program sustainability. The last two sections focus on profiles of specific transatlantic degree programs and lessons learned from joint and double degree programs in the European context.

It is clear that international joint and double degrees are becoming a genuine phenomenon; so much so that key institutions including the IIE, the CGS, and the EU are all paying close attention to the degrees’ uses, abuses, and efficacy. Thus we should view this new book as an attempt to both promote, but in a manner that examines the many forces that shape the collaborative process across space and between institutions. International partnerships are not simple to create, yet they are being demanded by more and more stakeholders.  Why?  Dissatisfaction that the rhetoric of ‘internationalization’ does not match up to the reality, and there is a ‘deliverables’ problem.

Indeed, we hosted some senior Chinese university officials here in Madison several months ago and they used the term “ghost MoUs”, reflecting their dissatisfaction with filling filing cabinet after filing cabinet with signed MoUs that lead to absolutely nothing. In contrast, engagement via joint and double degrees, for example, or other forms of partnership (e.g., see International partnerships: a legal guide for universities), cannot help but deepen the level of connection between institutions of higher education on a number of levels. It is easy to ignore a MoU, but not so easy to ignore a bilateral scheme with clearly defined deliverables, a timetable for assessment, and a budget.

AlQudsBrandeisThe value of tangible forms of international collaboration was certainly on view when I visited Brandeis University earlier this week.  Brandeis’ partnership with Al-Quds University (in Jerusalem) links “an Arab institution in Jerusalem and a Jewish-sponsored institution in the United States in an exchange designed to foster cultural understanding and provide educational opportunities for students, faculty and staff.”  Projects undertaken via the partnership have included administrative exchanges, academic exchanges, teaching and learning projects, and partnership documentation (an important but often forgotten about activity). The level of commitment to the partnership at Brandeis was genuinely impressive.

In the end, as debates about numbers, rankings, partnerships, MoUs — internationalization more generally — show us, it is only when we start grinding through the details and ‘working at the coal face’ (like Brandeis and Al-Quds seem to be doing), though in a strategic way, can we really shift from rhetoric to reality.

Kris Olds

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

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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