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Increasing international collaboration in joint programmes


Dutch universities are offering more and more programmes in collaboration with universities abroad. The number of these joint programmes has increased to 220 in recent years and a number of further programmes are in development, as shown by a VSNU report on 'joint programmes' that was presented today. VSNU President Karl Dittrich: "This type of intensive international collaboration results in greater student mobility – both incoming and outgoing – and international collaboration of academic professionals, both of which are important objectives of Dutch universities.

Since 1 July 2010, Dutch higher education institutions have been able to offer joint programmes in collaboration with one or more Dutch and international institutions. In these cases, students will study at a minimum of two different locations. These joint programmes are offered at the Bachelor's, Master's and PhD level and are available in a number of different forms. For example, students can gain one collective diploma issued jointly by all of the institutions (joint degree) or multiple diplomas from each separate institution (double or multiple degree).

International joint programmes contribute to the development of students' international skills. As well as being of great value to the international job market, students with broadly developed talents and international experience are also highly valuable to the Dutch job market. Furthermore, the programmes increase the visibility and optimise the positioning of Dutch universities on the international stage. Joint programmes are extremely effective in promoting new strategic partnerships with foreign institutions.

It is important to the VSNU that the current range on offer grows significantly in the years to come. VSNU President Karl Dittrich: "In order to develop more joint programmes and realise our international ambitions, greater flexibility in legislation and regulations would be particularly welcome. Dutch legislation is currently very complex and restrictive. Possible improvements include a simpler accreditation system based on European standards and simpler funding agreements, including a clear arrangement regarding tuition fees. Furthermore, Dutch legislation prescribes that in principle, Master's programmes in the Netherlands comprise a total of 60 ECTS, while in other countries, a standard of 120 ECTS is customary.

The VSNU is positive about the future. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is currently preparing a draft legislative proposal intended to facilitate expansion and simplification of legal opportunities in line with the recommendations in the VSNU report. This proposal is expected to facilitate a further rise in the number of joint programmes.

Click here to view the VSNU report.
Click here to view the appendix containing the international research by CHEPS (Center for Higher Education Policy Studies).



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Ruben Puylaert


+316 13 86 10 69

Gijs Kooistra

Deputy spokesperson

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