JDAZ Introduction

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The JDAZ project

This guide is a result of the Joint Degrees from A to Z (JDAZ) project. Partially funded by the European Commission, the project ran from October 2012 to April 2015. The JDAZ consortium consists of six Erasmus Mundus National Structures (EMNSs). The two core partners in the consortium are the EMNS of the Netherlands (located at EP-Nuffic), acting as project coordinator, and the EMNS of Finland (located at CIMO). The four advisory group partners in the consortium consist of the EMNSs of Austria (located at OeAD), Norway (located at SIU), Lithuania (located at the Education Exchanges Support Foundation) and Poland (located at the Foundation of the Development of the Education System). The JDAZ consortium benefited from the input and expertise of external experts in the field, representing the JOIMAN consortium, the European quality assurance network (ECA), the wider EMNS network and joint programme practitioners. Their input and debate have strengthened this guide in the expectation that it will contribute to the sustainable development of joint programmes.

Aim of this guide

The aim of this guide is to provide a comprehensive, practical reference guide on all aspects that need to be taken into account when developing and managing joint programmes. The focus is on programmes leading to a joint or multiple degree and offered by institutions in different countries. The authors of this guide felt a need to bring together references to all major relevant work on joint programmes. There is a lot of information available in this field, but these data have so far not been available in a central place and in an integrated form. This guide is based on all major relevant work undertaken in this field. In doing so, this guide aims to support the development of sustainable joint programmes and the further development of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). When setting up a joint programme, it is important to investigate the rules and constraints applicable to your specific situation. So, in addition to the information given in this guide, you will need to look into the applicable regulations in every country and higher education institution of your consortium. This project started off under the name 'Joint Degrees from A to Z (JDAZ)'. Through progressing insights during the project, we came to the conclusion that this reference guide in fact should have a broader focus on all issues relating to developing and managing joint programmes (and not only on joint degrees). Therefore, this guide is titled 'Joint programmes from A to Z. A reference guide for practitioners'.

Target groups

This guide is aimed at four target groups:

  1. The National Agencies for Erasmus+, to support them in their advisory role.
  2. Higher education institutions and coordinators – in Europe and beyond – interested in setting up or maintaining joint programmes.
  3. Current coordinators of established joint programmes, who are working to improve their current practice. These include coordinators of joint programmes that have been developed under funding programmes such as Erasmus Mundus, Erasmus+, Atlantis, EU-Canada, ECP-ICI, Joint Nordic Masters programmes and other initiatives.
  4. National research academies in their advisory role on joint doctoral programmes.

This guide is intended to be used as broadly as possible. The suggestions in this guide are generally applicable at bachelor, master and doctoral level. Doctoral-level data are often somewhat different from the bachelor and master levels due to the more unstructured format of PhDs, the complex nature of research (topics), development and supervision. Therefore, the JDAZ guide has a separate chapter on joint doctoral programmes. This chapter is shorter than the other chapters, since there is less information available on joint doctoral programmes. Although this guide is rooted in a European context, we have attempted to write this guide also with a global outlook: while taking into account that joint programmes are subject to different national and institutional regulations and contexts, many of the aspects mentioned in this guide are basic elements that need to be taken into account in the development of successful and sustainable joint programmes around the world.

Chapter structure

This guide does not follow the logic of a 'chronological' approach to the development and management of joint programmes (as in: what to think about in the development phase or later, during the implementation). Instead, it has adopted a more 'organic' approach because certain aspects, such as quality assurance and sustainability, should already be taken into account at an early stage in the development process. Chapter 2 explains the main definitions adopted in this guide. This guide focuses on the development and management of joint and multiple degree programmes (rather than on issuing a joint diploma leading to a joint degree, since issuing a joint diploma is merely one of many aspects of joint programme development). Chapter 3 offers a general background to the phenomenon of joint programmes and their increasingly important role in the internationalisation of higher education. Chapter 4 raises awareness of issues relating to different legal frameworks that these programmes may be subject to. Chapters 5 and 6 deal with all aspects relating to the development (chapter 5) and management (chapter 6) of joint programmes, including continuous consideration of sustainability issues. Chapters 7 and 8 focus on all issues relating to quality assurance (chapter 7) and recognition (chapter 8) that need to be taken into account when developing and managing joint programmes. Chapter 9 deals with joint doctoral programmes.

How to read this guide

This guide focuses on answering practical questions such as: How do you approach joint programme development? What are the crucial aspects that you need to take into account and at what stage? Based on the literature review and the experience and knowledge of the project consortium, external experts and extensive consultation of stakeholders, the guide presents 'key messages for practitioners' at the beginning of each chapter (and in some cases, at the beginning of a paragraph). The chapter (or paragraph) then elaborates on these key messages and related references. Links to relevant sources are included for those who would like to know more details. These links often provide additional and more detailed information on the relevant issues. Each chapter identifies 'key sources' and 'other sources'. 'Key sources' are the core sources on the chapter's theme, and include a broad range of useful and good-quality information. 'Other sources' include helpful, but less, details on the chapter's theme. They may, for instance, only briefly mention one aspect of joint programmes. This guide is not meant to be prescriptive, but suggests guidelines for higher education staff along the different aspects that need to be taken into account when developing and managing joint programmes. Although this guide aims to address all aspects from A to Z, this is done on a general level and so it cannot propose solutions to specific contexts. Please note that this guide reflects the situation in early 2015 and inevitably, there will be new developments in the field. Until this guide is updated, we advise you to follow new developments. For instance, the Bologna Ministerial Meeting in Yerevan in spring 2015.