October 9th, 1998: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) opens up their vision and action of the World Declaration on Higher Education for the Twenty-First Century acknowledging the “unprecedented demand for and a great diversification in higher education”. UNESCO envisions the mission and function of higher education as creating qualified and responsible citizens able to access higher learning throughout life and providing social mobility for individual development. This educates for citizenship while advancing, creating and disseminating knowledge and culture through research and cultural pluralism. There is emphasis on equity and long-term returns in building co-operation within the world of work, itself increasing globalized. Work that anticipates societal needs and diversification, each with educational personnel as leaders and agents directing student needs that interface professional careers. These student needs are at the center of national and institutional decision-making. From vision to action UNESCO discusses the reversal of ‘brain drain’ to ‘brain gain’, sharing knowledge and know-how across borders and continents, and qualitative evaluation based upon multidimensional teaching, researching and staffing at the specific institutional and regional levels — as well as internationally. There is also “promotion of appropriate programmes for academic staff development, including teaching/learning methodology and mobility between countries, between higher education institutions, and between higher education institutions and the world of work, as well as student mobility within and between countries”. Some of these visions and goals have manifested as international and interdisciplinary dual-degree programs in more recent years.
The Institute of International Education surveyed Joint and Double Degree Programs in the Global Context in 2011. The report acknowledges members from within the University of Alberta, University of Kansas, Purdue University, The University of Knottingham, The University of Toronto, University of Graz, Freie Universitat Berlin, European Commission DG Education and Culture, and the German Academic Exchange Service, and was made possible by the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) and the European Commission. The report sought information on international joint and double/dual degrees and to learn more about the challenges, opportunities and motivations for developing such programs. A total of 245 higher education institutions from 28 different countries were surveyed and analyzed. The surveys discovered that double/dual degrees are more common than joint degrees (generally, defining a joint degree as a single degree program created and delivered in lieu of using credits to satisfy an existing set of independent degree programs at the respective institutes). According to survey respondents, the double-counting of credits appears to be one of the least important challenges, and that 66% of responding institutions have measures regulating double counting of credits. Also, in total 14% of the programs were Doctoral, 53% graduate (Master), and 28% undergraduate. Notably, 71% of responses concerning double/dual degree program participant numbers “lingered in the 25 or fewer range”, whereas about 18% had more than 45 participants enrolled. The surveys also measured the top motivation and the actual impacts of the implemented programs, and the results were: [insert chart].
The primary partner institute survey respondents are diverse, yet the top impact tended to be increased collaboration between faculty members. The top five cited partner countries of this report were France, China, Germany, Spain and the U.S., and similar studies have mapped solely U.S. program profiles and perspectives and found consensus.
In 2014, the American Council on Education (ACE) and the Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement (CIGE) found the prospects of international collaborative degree programs to “deepen ties with partners abroad, increase mobility and build global competence among faculty and students, and advance institutional internationalization more broadly”. In this survey a total of 134 institutions responded to the survey collectively providing data on 193 joint and dual degree programs (left), and (right) the primary partners were China, France, Turkey and Germany.
[insert global map]
The majority of degrees granted by any given program, specifically from the set of doctoral granting institute respondents, were master’s degree (45%), bachelor’s degree (35%) and doctoral degree (20%). Business (35%), physical and natural sciences, social sciences, other, humanities, education, and health (2%) are the academic field distributions of all these programs ordered percent-wise. The majority of programs during start-up had “no challenge” with sufficient funding to launch the proposed program, no legal or regulatory issues, and no health and safety issues, and about 18% of the programs were developed in a single year. Concerning these three challenges respectively, 14%, 14% and 5% of programs did experience “quite a bit” to “extreme challenge”, but there was a 28% reduction in the frequency of any type of program challenge when the start-up was a double/dual degree program. Likewise the majority of programs report “no challenge” with either education quality/standards (48%) and “no challenge” with evaluation and accreditation standards and practices (52%), as opposed to: “some challenge”, “quite a bit of challenge”, or “extreme challenge”. Lastly, 68% of these programs were accredited in both partner countries, and one respondent confirmed that “no special steps are required for individual joint or dual degree programs…since we are simply transferring credits as part of the degree”.
Going forward, CIGE predicts that business will remain a top field, and acknowledges speculation of the graduate programs, particularly at the PhD level, becoming more common. Their report also highlights the skew toward non-U.S. student enrollment (i.e. ‘brain-drain’), while acknowledging the substantial variations among program models (e.g. financing, policies and enrollment processes). Even though 47% of survey respondents specifically mentioned joint/double/dual degree programs in planning documents, or were incorporating these programs into such documents, this process of comprehensive internationalization entails complexity and nuances. Specifically, these moderate challenges effecting sustainability involve managing the level of student enrollment to consistently meet expectation (survey results 33% “no challenge”, 42% “some challenge”, 16% “quite a bit of challenge”, 8% “extreme challenge”) and working to share commitment level and expectations (survey results 36% “no challenge”, 42% “some challenge”, 15% “quite a bit of challenge”, 7% “extreme challenge”). Commitment specifically was “the extent to which each of the partners share the same level of interest in making the partnership effective and taking the necessary steps to support it”. A minority of programs experience significant challenge in overdependence on key faculty and administrators from which the partnership originated or in shifting institutional priorities and goals, respectively 26% and 17%. These challenges are addressed by effective marketing to U.S. students over foreign student groups and effective administrative communication between partner institutions. Regardless of experiencing some challenge, the general trend is towards internationalization. So, CIGE and ACE have designed a Model for Comprehensive Internationalization as part of the bigger planning picture.
[insert comprehensive internationalization schematic]