International education involves the constant advancement of institutions to meet students’ demands. While various institutions offer short-term or semester exchange programmes, there has been a seemingly growing number of long-term programmes such as dual or joint degree programmes. The development of an international joint degree can provide a remarkable experience for students and a robust programme for the institution to include in its portfolio, however, it also brings about various challenges.
While ‘dual’ or ‘double’ degrees are becoming a norm, they can be difficult to navigate. In addition, a university will typically need at least half of the credits for its degree to be taken on campus. From an administrative perspective, advising students through their dual degree academic path can be demanding. Hence, the design of a joint degree programme can help resolve many of these concerns.
In September 2017, American University (AU) in Washington, DC, and Ritsumeikan University (RU) in Kyoto, Japan, established a joint undergraduate degree programme. Students under this programme will be concurrently enrolled at both universities, sharing one curriculum that has been jointly outlined.
This joint undergraduate degree is distinctive as most international joint degree programmes are only available at the graduate level with an emphasis on the STEM field. On the contrary, the AU-RU joint programme is in the field of global international relations. Further, the number of students on the programme is capped to make certain that these individuals can gain personal attention and support.
Despite the long-term partnership, staff and faculty from both universities encountered several challenges and spent more than three years designing the programme. The development teams worked extensively to meet the detailed and sometimes competing needs of stakeholders involved at each university. However, these issues only portray the challenges at the development stage of the programme. In 2018, the university will both enroll their first cohort and programme coordinators to prepare students for a solitary international experience.
Students take an interest in international programmes for several reasons, including to gain first-hand international experience and new perspectives, to enhance foreign-language and cross-cultural communication skills, to cultivate personal and professional growth and to demonstrate to future employers their credentials as a global citizen. By tackling the challenges of a joint degree, students benefit through close partnerships across campuses and across countries.
Universities that are looking to support these students will have to assess their ability comprehensively to thrive and support the intensely collaborative relationship needed for an international joint degree programme. The formation of a joint degree programme bring about challenges for the universities involved, but the benefit is a distinctive programme that presents opportunities for students, staff and faculty with partner institutions worldwide.
Source: University World News
Join us in the upcoming QS-APPLE 2018 from 21-23 November 2018 in Seoul, South Korea, as we discuss the topic on “Future Universities in the Asia-Pacific: The Changing Face of Higher Education”.