Joint Degrees


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.

Completion of the Joint Programmes project

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. In March 2015, the VSNU (Association of Universities in the Netherlands) presented the final report on joint programmes, which contained these and other figures.


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).

It is important to the VSNU that the current range on offer grows significantly in the years to come. By means of the legislative proposal promoting internationalisation of higher education, the Minister has met the majority of the universities' wishes to enable greater legislative flexibility. This proposal is expected to facilitate a further rise in the number of joint programmes.


Minister Bussemaker's legislative proposal will enable the institutions to proceed without any exchange of funds. This makes Dutch legislation and regulations more compatible with the international practice of joint programmes. This will make it easier to make agreements with partners and also puts Dutch institutions in a better negotiating position with potential partners. The proposal will enable students registered at a Dutch institution(s) to remain registered there throughout the entire joint program, meaning they will no longer encounter the problem of double tuition fees due to double registration. This also means that the students retain access to facilities at the Dutch institution(s), such as their e-mail account and the library.


Transnational education

In the letter dated 15 July 2014 in which she set out her vision, Minister Bussemaker endorsed the added value of transnational education. She wrote that she wants to make transnational education possible for both non-subsidised legal entities for higher education and subsidised institutions, for both Bachelor's and Master's programmes. By means of the Improved Governance (Higher Education) Act (Wet versterking besturing) 2009, a legal basis was established for transnational education (Article 1.19 of the Higher Education and Research Act [Wet op het hoger onderwijs en wetenschappelijk onderzoek]) This provision will come into force once further conditions have been established by government decree. In this government degree, Minister Bussemaker will describe which institutions will be permitted to offer full programmes abroad. A major stumbling block for the universities is the limitation currently stipulated in Dutch leglislation and regulatons that 25% of the programme must be physically studied at the Dutch institution. The VSNU will meet with Minister Bussemaker to discuss the problems relating to transnational education.


NVAO accreditation protocols
In June 2010, the NVAO (Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders) developed protocols for the assessment of joint degrees in the Netherlands: the protocol for existing joint-degree programmes in the Netherlands (accreditation) and the protocol for new joint-degree programmes in the Netherlands (assessment of new programmes). Dutch higher education institutions can make use of these protocols when submitting applications. More information can be found on the NVAO's website.


Erasmus Mundus will be known as Erasmus+ and joint doctorates will be incorporated into the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Activities
On 4 February 2014, an information meeting was held regarding the new Erasmus+ programme and how it will affect the current joint doctorates subsidised via EM. Presentations and brochures about both the new Erasmus+ programme and the MSC Actions into which the joint doctorates will be incorporated, can be found in the VSNU documentation in the right-hand column.