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Doubts and Dilemmas with Double Degree Programs
The number and types of international joint, double and consecutive degree programs have skyrocketed in the last five years, demonstrating that they clearly have a role in the current landscape of higher education. For many academics and policy makers, double and joint degree programs are welcomed as a natural extension of exchange and mobility programs. For others, they are perceived as a troublesome development leading to double counting of academic work and the thin edge of academic fraud. A broad range of reactions exist due to the diversity of program models; the involvement of new (bona fide and rogue) and traditional providers; the uncertainty related to quality assurance and qualifications recognition; and finally, the ethics involved in deciding what academic workload or new competencies are required for the granting of joint, double, multiple or consecutive degrees. This article aims to clarify the confusion about the differences between a joint, a double and a consecutive degree program by providing a conceptual framework of definitions. It provides highlights from recent research surveys and studies, and looks at new developments and innovations in establishing these types of collaborative programs. Finally, it examines the factors that challenge the operationalization of the programs and explores those issues that raise doubts and dilemmas and require further debate and analysis.
Authors: Jane Knight
Knight, J. (2011). Doubts and Dilemmas with Double Degree Programs. RUSC. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento, 8(2), págs-135. Download
From the chapter "Final words":
Clearly, the debate is nuanced and complicated by national policies, customs and interpretations of what constitutes the requirements for a qualification. The critical point emanating from the doubts and different interpretations of the legitimacy of double/multiple degrees is that rigorous analysis is required. Stakeholders, including students, higher education institutions, employers, accreditation and quality assurance agencies, policy makers, academic leaders and credential recognition bodies, need to address this issue individually and collectively. Similarities and differences among countries and stakeholders need to be acknowledged and respected, but there needs to be some common understanding about what two or more qualifications at the same level emanating from a double or multiple degree collaborative program actually represent and signify. The challenge facing the higher education sector is to work out a common understanding of what joint, double and consecutive programs actually mean and involve, and to iron out the academic alignment issues inherent to working in different national regulatory frameworks, cultures and practices. Most importantly, a robust debate on the vexing questions of accreditation, recognition and legitimacy of qualifications needs to take place to ensure that international collaborative programs and their awards are respected and welcomed by students, higher education institutions and employers around the world, and do not lead to undesirable unintended consequences.
- Knight, J. (2011). Doubts and Dilemmas with Double Degree Programs. RUSC. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento, 8(2), págs-135.