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BRIDGE HANDBOOK Joint Programmes and Recognition What credential evaluators need to know about a Joint Degree Luca Lantero – PNC Italia Erasmus Mundus National Structure - Italy. Best recognition instruments for the dialogue between global experts

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Joint Programmes and Recognition

What credential evaluators need to know about a Joint Degree

Luca Lantero – PNC Italia

Erasmus Mundus National Structure - Italy

Best recognition instruments for the dialogue between global experts

Final Conference - Malta, 18 - 19 October 2012

Purpose of the handbook
Purpose of the Handbook

The BRIDGE Handbook was studied in order to offer practical tools and suggestions for the Erasmus Mundus consortia and HEIs at the following stages:

  • Creation of joint programmes;

  • Assessment of the prospective candidates for the Erasmus Mundus programmes or joint programmes in general;

  • Award of double, multiple and joint degrees by the Erasmus Mundus consortia or by HEIs.

    We want to describe what it is important to taking into account about recognition issues when HEIs decide to implement a joint programme.

    The Handbook is the final result of our project, taking into account the experience of the BRIDGE consortium.

Contents of the handbook
Contents of the Handbook

We have divided the Handbook into three parts (BRIDGE Joint Programme Phases - CSA) concerning joint programmes and the difficulties associated with the recognition of qualifications and according to different stages in the life of a joint programme:

  • Creation phase: it is necessary to take into account the differences among various HED systems;

  • Selection phase: candidates are chosen on the basis of the evaluation of their foreign qualification and of the status of the awarding institution;

  • Awarding phase: when the double, multiple or joint degrees are awarded and the Diploma supplement is issued, it is necessary to comply with the different national regulations on joint programmes and joint degrees.

    We have also inserted an extra Chapter providing some initial clarifications about joint degree and recognition procedures + 6 Annexes.


Chapter 1 - Joint Degrees and recognition: some clarifications

Chapter 2 - Creation phase

Chapter 3 - Selection phase

Chapter 4 - Awarding phase


Annex 1 - List of ENIC-NARIC centres and Erasmus Mundus NSs

Annex 2 - National Qualifications Frameworks

Annex 3 - Recognised Higher Education Institutions

Annex 4 - Registers of Higher Education Programmes

Annex 5 - Quality Assurance Agencies

Annex 6 -Catalogue of projects on Joint Programmes

1 joint degrees and recognition some clarifications 1 3
1. Joint Degrees and recognition: some clarifications (1/3)

1.1 How to speak a common language: definitions

Official reference documents:

  • The Erasmus Mundus Programme Guide (EMPG) as a reference document for National Structures, and

  • The Recommendation on the recognition of joint degrees (RJD) and its Explanatory memorandum, carried out by the Committee of the LRC.

    BRIDGE definitions:

    Joint Degree: a single diploma corresponding to at least two official national qualifications issued by at least two official HEIs on the basis of a study programme developed and/or provided jointly by them.

    Double/Multiple Degree: two or more national diplomas issued by two or more HEIs on the basis of a study programme developed and/or provided jointly by the HEIs.

    Joint Programme: a study programme developed and/or provided jointly by two or more HEIs, possibly also in cooperation with other institutions, leading to the award of a double, multiple or joint degree.

    Diploma: the official document attesting the qualification.

1 joint degrees and recognition some clarifications 2 3
1. Joint Degrees and recognition: some clarifications (2/3)

1.2 The recognition of Joint Degrees: a formal issue

A Joint Degree is exclusively a method of issue of the national final qualifications within a Joint Programme.

It is incomprehensible how “it often seems more difficult to obtain recognition of a joint degree than of a 'pure' foreign national degree. This is unjustified in view of the overall policy goal of stimulating international and inter-institutional cooperation and academic mobility.” [RJD] and

“information on education systems as well as on individual institutions, programmes and qualifications is one of the key challenges facing those working with the recognition of qualifications [...] the problem is not one of a lack of information, but rather a lack of pertinent and focused information.” [RJD]

Recognition of JDs as a formal issue:

The recognition of joint degrees is exclusively a formal problem tied to the clear and exhaustive presentation of the elements of national qualifications who arrange joint qualifications, and therefore is not a substantial problem tied to the impossibility of a recognition.

1 joint degrees and recognition some clarifications 3 3
1. Joint Degrees and recognition: some clarifications (3/3)

1.3 The components of qualifications: what is important to know

What are the elements we must consider for an evaluation of a qualification?

Name of qualification: it is important to know the names of all national qualifications and of those corresponding to final joint degrees that are issued.

Name and status of awarding institutions: this information will indicate whether the institutions of higher education are official within national systems and its status.

Accreditation of a course: accredited HEI does not mean accredited course; not all courses organised by recognised HEIs have this feature; some unrecognised institutions can arrange accredited courses.

Nature of a qualification: academic, research or vocational qualifications; there are JPs created between HEIs of a different nature.

Level of qualification: the level (which one?) is our starting point; the qualifications of different systems placed at the same cycle / level are not directly equivalent between them.

Official length of programme: it is never the only element useful for evaluation procedures.

Workload: ECTS and other systems.

Access requirements: ‘consequential’ and ‘no-consequential’ HED systems.

Access to further study: a qualification will allow access to all courses of next level, only to certain courses of the next level or to no course of study.

Information on learning outcomes:one programme, same outcomes.

2 creation phase 1 4
2. Creation phase (1/4)

The Creation phase is the first part of a JP life cycle and it concerns its development and implementation.

During this phase it is important to consider all the life elements of a course in order to avoid problems to arise during the actual development of the JP, both within the partner institutions which organise the course and towards students who will obtain the final degree.


* Taking from the JOIMAN experience

2 creation phase 2 4
2. Creation phase (2/4)

2.1 Higher Education Systems involved

It is fundamental to know the system and the national legislation of HEIs which organise the JP.

What sources we can use to get information on a HED system?


Involvement of the ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF.

Erasmus Mundus National Structures and ENIC-NARIC centres.

Different cycles: 3+2, 4+1, (2+3) 5 etc.

How to organize a JP between these systems?

Identify the target group: 'national' students (students from the partner institutions), 'international' students (from other systems) or both.

2 creation phase 3 4
2. Creation phase (3/4)

2.2 Higher Education Institutions and different qualifications

HEIs can issue 'official' qualifications within their system, but these qualifications can be of 'different' nature.

The nature of a qualification depending on the HEI status:

- Different types of higher education institutions within binary systems

- 'Unofficial' institutions which issue official qualifications

- 'Official' institutions which issue non official qualifications

- Unrecognised institutions which claim to be recognised: the phenomenon of Diploma Mills

- Institutions which operates in a system but belong to another: trans-national institutions (TNE)


2 creation phase 4 4
2. Creation phase (4/4)

2.3 Qualifications of the same level and different nature

The generic indication of 'official second cycle degree’ within a joint programme can be misleading, both for credentials evaluators and students attending the course.

The level is our starting point: more then one qualification at the same level in a HED system. (Examples).

2.4 A very useful tool: the Qualifications Framework

126 countries are adopting or have already adopted their own National QF within the education system.

  • European Qualifications Framework

  • Qualifications Framework for the European Higher Education Area

  • Annex 2: National Qualifications Frameworks

3 selection phase 1 4
3. Selection phase (1/4)

The student selection phase within a JP does not identify itself exclusively with the selection procedure phases, but it also includes the organisation of these procedures and all the useful information for students who will be selected.

The documentation requests and the information provided to prospective students must consider differences among HED systems, which sometimes differ from those used by the partner institutions, therefore:


* Taking from the BRUSSELS AIRLINES experience

3 selection phase 2 4
3. Selection phase (2/4)

3.1 Only one joint evaluation for a single course

It is recommended - and rightful - to establish a single selection phase and clear rules for students who intend to attend the course.

Case 1: Admission to the course without a formal qualification

Case 2: 'Recognition of prior learning’

Case 3: The concept of ‘consequentiality of degrees’

Selection Board Composition:

Composed by both representatives of the academic field (scholars) and by representatives of the administrative field (administrative staff): both competencies are necessary during the selection phase to evaluate the degrees presented by students under the academic and administrative point of view.

Indicate an only ONEinformation source for the prospective students in order to collect all the applications of the joint course and to receive questions from applicants, by avoiding that each institution receives autonomously the applications to the course or answer to students questions autonomously.

3 selection phase 3 4
3. Selection phase (3/4)

3.2 Admission to the course: qualifications and documents required

Elements of the qualification required

(a) Minimum duration in years;

(b) level/cycle and reference scale;

(c) possibility of admission to the next courses in the reference foreign system

(d) nature of the qualification.

Documents required for the admission

  • Establish in advance which documents will be required to prospective students: these documents must be shared by all the consortium ('Achievable’ Documents).

  • Curriculum vitae

  • Proof of identity

  • Diploma in original version or certified copy

  • Legalisation of documents

  • Diploma Supplement, Transcripts or List of subjects

  • Certified translations

3 selection phase 4 4
3. Selection phase (4/4)

3.3 Information for future students

Documents useful to manage the relationships between future students and the partner institutions of the JP:

Statement for personal data handling in order to verify the information provided by candidates;

Student agreement (EM experience) that indicate rights and duties of the future students and the commitments of partner institutions.

Joint Website with the following information:

(a) the subjects of the joint course;

(b) the list of the institutions participating in the programme;

(c) the name of the national qualifications which will be issued at the end of the course;

(d) all the information related to the selection procedure for the admission to the course;

(e) a single contact for the clarification and information requests.

4 awarding phase
4. Awarding phase

Coming soon… (FEEL CONNECTED!!!)

Recognition of a qualification: NO automatic procedure among EU countries!

Clear description of elements of JD: official names of national qualifications and other details (see The components of qualifications).

Awarding procedure - Legalisation aspects: who is in charge to sign the final qualification?

Format of the final Diploma: which elements are important to insert.

Recognition procedures for Joint Degrees corresponding to different qualifications… waiting for results of the BRIDGE Case 3.

The course does not end - and your relationship with students as well - when you award the final diploma: they got one of your qualification for their entire life (more then a marriage)!




She is the lucky girl
She is the lucky girl…

I am the scared guy!!!