The innovative character of JOI.CON – Joint Programme Management: Conferences and Training is described by its purpose: to translate the theory of managing Joint Programmes into a practical approach. JOI.CON was based on the findings of the preceding project JOIMAN – Joint Degree Management and Administration Network: Tackling Current Issues and Facing Future Challenges. As a Multilateral Network within the Lifelong Learning Programme, JOIMAN investigated good practises and highlighted challenges in the management of JPs. Finally, it provided useful document templates for future JP consortia.1 JOIMAN identified one main challenge that most JP coordinators and stakeholders had to face at some point: the lack of awareness and foresight in the implementation of Joint Programmes. JOI.CON, funded by the European Commission as a LLP Erasmus Accompanying Measure from October 2011 until the end of 2012, answered this clearly identified need for the training of JP coordinators.
Joint Programmes have become a core element in the internationalisation strategies of Higher Education Institutions. They intensify international partnerships, increase the international visibility of partner institutions, and allow students to benefit from the combined curricular strength of several partners. The interest in implementing JPs is intertwined with strong strategic support on the Higher Education policy level. Many legal frameworks are currently being adapted to enable these programmes. On the European level as well as on the national level, funding resources are made available to promote JPs. In this context, the JOIMAN network acted as a pioneer in addressing the critical need to know more about successful JP management on a comprehensive level.
The aim of JOI.CON was the development of confidence and competence in JP management. As project coordinator, Leipzig University (Germany) got seven European universities and two university networks on board to take JOIMAN one step further and create a practical learning experience. The project offered JP- tailored training to academic and administrative staff members with a wide geographic spread of participants. Trainees were guided to apply the JOIMAN findings and templates in order to simulate the establishment of a fictive JP on either master or doctoral level. Participants were trained to envisage the process and the “life cycle” of a JP and to develop the management know-how needed for their individual profession as well as for their institutions. The training sessions encouraged multilateral collaboration and networking while creating transparency concerning processes and regulations involved.