This chapter gives an overview of the most relevant definitions that are used in this guide. It includes definitions of a joint programme, a joint degree, a joint diploma, accreditation and recognition.
Key messages for practitioners
- There is confusion around terminology, as several national and international bodies have developed their own, contradicting definitions, which might differ from general conceptions within a specific region or country.
- The message of the JDAZ guide is to start your cooperation by clarifying the definition of joint programmes (and the joint or multiple degrees that these programmes may lead to) in your own context.
- So far, the most officially recognised definitions in Europe are those made by the inter-governmental, regional UNESCO Lisbon Recognition Convention, in the Recommendation on the Recognition of Joint Degrees (2004). However, this document is outdated and needs updating and clarifying.
A joint programme is a programme offered jointly by several higher education institutions. These institutions can be located either in the same country or in different countries (the focus of this guide). A joint programme does not necessarily lead to a joint degree. It is only one of the possible awards. After completion of a joint programme a graduate may be awarded: a single national qualification, a double (or other multiple) qualification or a joint qualification. One of the products of the intergovernmental Bologna Process, the 2012 Implementation Report (p.185), indicates that joint programmes have all or at least some of the following characteristics:
- The programmes are jointly developed and/or approved by several institutions;
- Students from each participating institution study parts of the programme at other institutions;
- The students' stays at the participating institutions are of comparable length;
- Periods of study and exams passed at the partner institution(s) are fully and automatically recognised;
- Professors of each participating institution also teach at the other institutions, jointly work out the curriculum, and form joint admission and examination commissions;
- After completion of the full programme, the student either obtains the national degrees of each participating institution or a degree awarded jointly by them.
According to the Recommendation on the Recognition of Joint Degrees, as part of the Lisbon Recognition Convention, a joint degree may be issued as:
- a joint diploma in addition to one or more national diplomas;
- a joint diploma issued by the institutions offering the study programme in question without being accompanied by any national diploma;
- one or more national diplomas officially issued as the only attestation of the joint qualification in question.
The European Consortium for Accreditation (ECA) makes three remarks on these three points, since the Recommendation has become slightly outdated by now. ECA (Aerden and Reczulska, 2010) explains that:
- it is unlikely that both the joint and the national degree are acknowledged as the national higher education qualification;
- the second part of the definition of the Recommendation is now commonly understood as a joint degree;
- the third part of the definition describes the situation which is currently considered as a multiple degree.
In this guide, a 'joint diploma' refers to 'a document issued on successful completion of the programme, indicating that the degree holder has obtained a joint degree.'
In this guide, 'accreditation' is defined as 'a formal and independent decision indicating that a programme and/or an institution meet(s) certain predefined quality standards.'
In order for the degree to be e.g. considered valid abroad it has to be recognised. In this guide, 'recognition' is defined as 'a formal acknowledgement by a competent authority of the value of a foreign educational qualification with a view to access to educational and/or employment activities.'
Definitions of Joint Programmes
- Aerden, A., Hanna Reczulska, The recognition of qualifications awarded by joint programmes, ECA, 2010.
- Knight, J., Doubts and Dilemmas with Double Degree Programs, in: “Globalisation and Internationalisation of Higher Education” [online monograph]. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento (RUSC). Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 297-312. UOC., 2011, p.299.
Definitions on joint degrees
- Bologna Implementation Report 2012, p.185.
- Committee of the Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications Concerning Higher Education in the European Region, Recommendation on the Recognition of Joint Degrees, p.4.
- Aerden, A., H.Reczulska, The recognition of qualifications awarded by joint programmes, ECA, 2010, pp.32-33.
- Aerden, A. and J. Lokhoff, Framework for fair recognition of joint degrees, ECA, 2013.
- European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), Methodological report of the Transnational European Evaluation Project II (TEEP II). Helsinki, ENQA, 2006, p.10.
- (Joint degrees): ENQA,Methodological report of the Transnational European Evaluation Project II, 2006, p. 10; European Consortium for Accreditation in Higher Education, How to Assess and Accredit joint programmes in Europe, 2010, pp.58-59.
- (Joint degree, Erasmus Mundus): European Parliament and Council, Decision No 1298/2008/EC, Official Journal of the European, p.97, Annex.(Qualification): Bologna Follow-Up Group, Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area, 2005, p.30.
- (Accreditation): European Consortium for Accreditation (ECA), http://www.ecahe.eu/w/index.php/Category:Glossary.
- (Recognition): The Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region (The Lisbon Convention), p.4.