Recognise unless a substantial difference exists

In the case of qualifications awarded by joint programmes, credential evaluators should assess them taking into account the principles stipulated in the Recommendation on the Recognition of Joint Degrees.

Competent recognition authorities should recognise foreign qualifications awarded by joint programmes unless they can demonstrate that there is a substantial difference between the qualification for which recognition is sought and the comparable qualification within their own higher education system.

Apply flexible attitude to recognition

Competent recognition authorities of countries whose higher education institutions are involved in the joint programme and/ or award a joint degree should recognize these qualifications with the greatest flexibility possible.

Analyse relevant aspects of joint programme and institutions involved

When assessing qualifications awarded by joint programmes, credential evaluators are recommended to check:

  • if all institutions involved in the joint programme were recognised and/or accredited in their home systems;
  • if the joint programme was recognised by all participating higher education institutions, namely the ones where the student actually studied;
  • if the joint programme was offered in a limited number of institutions and if the joint degree was awarded in the name of a larger “consortium”, credential evaluators are recommended to check whether:
    • all members of the “consortium” were appropriately recognised/accredited higher education institutions;
    • at least (programmes of) the institutions in which the student effectively has studied have been quality assessed;
    • what are the legal regulations regarding joint programmes and joint degrees in the countries involved in the joint programme /awarding the joint degree;
    • if the joint degree was awarded in accordance with all the legal frameworks of the awarding institutions;
    • whether the joint degree was signed by the competent authorities of the awarding institution/institutions.
  • Check if the European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes has been applied to the accreditation of the programme. It means that an integrated quality assurance of the programme has been applied, the programme is accredited in each of the relevant consortium partners, and no further checks are necessary;
  • In the absence of such accreditation, check whether the joint programme as a whole has been accredited by a reliable (national) accreditation organization, usually in a country where one of the consortium partners is located. In that case, you have sufficient evidence for the overall quality of the programme, and further checks into the status of the consortium partners should not be necessary;
  • In the absence of full programme accreditation, check the accreditation/recognition status of the consortium partners or (in countries with an accreditation system at programme level) the accreditation status of parts of the programme, in order to obtain sufficient evidence for its quality. This may be a rather difficult and time-consuming task if you are assessing a joint programme provided by a consortium consisting of dozens of institutions. The accreditation status of a part of a programme offered by one institution of a consortium can be particularly difficult to verify in most education systems. You are therefore advised to take a flexible approach in this aspect of investigating the joint qualification.You do not have to check every detail about the accreditation of the programme, as long as you have sufficient evidence for the overall quality.

In case the joint degree was awarded in addition to a national qualification or several national qualifications were awarded, all these qualifications should be evaluated as one attestation of a joint qualification.

Example 1: Accredited joint programme

Example 2: Qualification obtained after studying at recognised/ accredited institutions

Example 3: One of the providers is not a recognised/ accredited institution

Example 4: Taking into account the learning outcomes of the joint programme

Information tools on joint programmes

More information regarding the joint programme and the awarded qualification (joint degree), should be available in the Diploma Supplement of the joint degree.

Information specific to the joint programme can also be found in the following sources:

  • official website of the higher education institution offering the joint programme;
  • agreement establishing a joint programme.