Background information

HERE Study Visit

“Joint degrees[1]: strategic and operational implementation:

one size does not fit all”



Internationalisation and joint degrees have been key topics in the European agenda for the modernisation and attractiveness of higher education, as well as in the Bologna Process Ministers’ Communiqués over the past decade and a half. The most recent communiqués of 2015 and 2018 consider joint degrees as part of the foundation of the European Higher Education Area and call for “integrated transnational cooperation in higher education, research and innovation”. In December 2017, the European Council called on Member States and the European Commission to take forward a number of initiatives, including the building of “bottom-up networks of universities across the EU which will enable students to obtain a degree by combining studies in several EU countries and contribute to the international competitiveness of European universities”. This further reinforced over a decade of joint and dual degree development under schemes such as Erasmus Mundus as well as Bologna commitments.

The University of Coimbra (UC) follows these trends. The development of joint degrees has been explicitly included in its Strategic Plans of 2011-2015 and 2015-2019. During this HERE Study Visit, participants will get an overview of the UC strategic planning and how joint degrees have contributed to the accomplishment of UC’s strategic missions in what concerns development cooperation and the delivery of more attractive and advanced study programmes. Joint degrees foster excellence, innovation, graduate employability and ability to operate in globalised world. They are one of the most advanced and complex forms of internationalisation, which require highly coordinated academic and operational interactions between different higher education institutions and support services. Participants will gain insight on how the UC manages the need to maintain quality standards for the complete life cycle of the joint programme, together with the flexibility required to develop solutions in the context of very different academic cultures and institutional contexts. Participants will also learn about UC’s different joint degree models, their financial and legal implications, as well as the need to comply with specific requirements and formal procedures.

The study visit follows up a HERE seminar that was held in Novi Sad, Serbia in 2016 on joint degree development. Resources from this seminar will be revisited prior to and during the event.

The intended audience is HERE that have been involved in institutional international collaboration and strategic decision making around this topic. HERE students are also welcome.

Learning outcomes:

  • To understand the overarching strategic planning of the University of Coimbra and the role played by the internationalisation of education and research in the accomplishment of its vision and missions;
  • To learn – via the example of UC – how to ensure the success of joint degrees through robust and supportive management and  administration structures, also in view of quality assurance processes;
  • To be aware of the importance of course coordination and support services in the implementation of joint degrees;
  • To learn about different joint degree models at UC.



[1] Joint study programmes are developed and delivered by two or more HEIs (from the same or different countries)