Friday, April 24th, 2009 Eรถtvรถs Lorรกnd University, Faculty of Arts, Budapest
Joint Degrees in Higher Education in Italy Prof. Carmelo Majorana, University of Padova and University of Venice
The Italian legal framework: strategic actions Since 1996 the Italian higher education system has been undergoing a wide and ambitious reform process that has been seeking to restructure and innovate curriculum, governance and organization. The reforms were largely lead by academics from the Italian Rectors Conference who in 1996 published a white paper with recommendations to revitalize higher education. Drawing further from the Sorbonne and Bologna Declarations, the Italian government in November 1999 began the process of restructuring higher education with the passing into force of a ministerial decree (law 509/99) that has helped re-define the landscape of Italian higher education.
1) Adoption of a binary system with a university track made up of a three-tier degree
structure, together with a parallel postsecondary professional track organized at the regional level. The curriculum of each field has been divided into a core group of disciplines to be found in all universities and a second group to be structured independently by the faculties of each university to enhance institutional autonomy in adapting programs to the demands of society and the labor market. 2) Introduction of a credit system compatible with the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) to make individual curricula more flexible and to ease the creation of continuing education programs; 3) Establishment of a national quality assurance system was stated, with evaluation offices at each university coordinated nationally by the Comitato per la Valutazione del Sistema Universitario (National Committee of University Evaluation).
The Italian legal framework: achievements -A system of academic degrees which are easy to read and compare. It includes the introduction of a diploma supplement in order to improve transparency; - A system based essentially on two cycles: a first cycle geared to the employment market and lasting at least three years and a second cycle (Master) conditional upon the completion of the first cycle; - A system of accumulation and transfer of credits of the ECTS type used in the Socrates-Erasmus exchange scheme; - Mobility of students, teachers and researchers: elimination of all obstacles to the freedom of movement; -Cooperation with regard to quality assurance; - The European dimension of higher education: expand at all levels on modules, teaching and study areas where the content, guidance or organisation has a European dimension (Bologna Declaration, 19 June 1999)
The Bergen communiqué The Bergen communiqué (20 May 2005) noted that significant progress had been made concerning the objectives of the process, but it is necessary to focus on: Implementing references and guidelines to guarantee quality, as proposed in the ENQA report (European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education); Introducing national qualification frameworks ; Awarding and recognising joint degrees, including the doctorate level; Creating opportunities for flexible pathways for training in higher education, including the existence of provisions for the validation of experience.
Enhancing Mobility: the joint degrees With the aim of fostering international student mobility, a July 2003 law established a
“fund to support the mobility of students”. The financial support of the ministry is distributed to universities and include supplementary funds for Erasmus grants. With the same aim, the law provides for the setting up of the National Register of Students and Graduates. The register facilitates procedures related to the recognition of credits; Italian universities have raised concerns about the lack of legislation in other Bologna countries for the recognition of joint degrees, which is viewed as a barrier to greater student mobility. Italian law 509 allows universities to award joint degrees with other Italian or foreign universities; Erasmus student and teacher mobility figures show that there have been increases in the number of incoming and outgoing students, while the number of outgoing teachers has decreased. The number of incoming students in 2002/03 was 10,982, up from 9,855 in 2001/02, while the number of Italian students spending a period abroad through the Erasmus program has increased from 13,950 to 15,225 over the same period. In terms of teacher mobility, the number of incoming teachers has increased from 1,493 to 1,650 and the number of outgoing teachers has decreased from 922 to 897 (WENR, May/June 2004)
Joint degrees and double degrees A 'joint degree' or a 'double degree' represent two possible outcomes to an 'integratedâ€™ course of study. An integrated study program envisages a curriculum that has been jointly designed by two universities and is regulated by a specific negotiated agreement. Students who choose the program undertake defined periods of study in both academic establishments in terms of duration and content. At the end of the courses and after the relevant joint examinations, the students are awarded either a single qualification jointly signed by the academic authorities of both institutions (joint degree) or the final national qualifications of both institutions (double degree). A study by CIMEA (2002) presented the development of joint degrees in Italy with effect from the reform of 1980 which opened the doors to integrated study programs for universities and stimulated international university cooperation, both bilateral and multilateral. The study concentrates on the reforms of 1999 and documents the potential for and actual developments in joint degrees with particular attention focused on the universities' internationalization programs. Finally, the study proposes a classification of the types of degrees awarded upon completion of integrated courses and formulates guidelines for the design of curricula and the organization of joint courses. (Finocchietti C. Sticchi Damiani M., Joint degrees and double degrees. The Italian Experience, September 2006)
Joint degrees: the Italian landscape 1. University cooperation agreement between Italy and France “Wishing to contribute to the development of cultural and scientific relations between the two
countries”, on 5 July 1992, in Paris, the Italian and French governments signed a framework agreement on university cooperation. The agreement is important historically since it formally established for the first time the awarding of a double degree.
The agreement provides that “the universities of the two countries may conclude agreements
with one another which envisage integrated study programmes leading to the joint award of an Italian academic qualification (laurea) and a French academic qualification (maîtrise) having the same value. Such programmes shall concern students who have successfully completed the first two years of study at either an Italian or French university”. The agreement also specifies the matters that inter-university agreements should regulate: the organization of studies, examinations, the method of awarding the academic qualifications, exchange of teachers, the duration of students’ study periods abroad and joint commissions. Law n. 761 of 18 October 1984 - Ratification and Implementation of the Framework Agreement for University Cooperation between Italy and France, signed in Paris on 5 July 1982.
2. The Italo-French University
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The Italo-French University arose out of the Italo-French summit in Florence on 6 October 1998. Its administrative headquarters are in Grenoble and Turin. It is an original experience of a virtual university, sans murs, which aims at co-ordinating the cooperation between the universities of the two countries and which is based largely on distance learning made possible by new technologies. By means of this virtual institution, Italy and France wish “to promote the award of double degrees and joint degrees, and to participate in the design of common programmes” . In addition to this commitment to double degrees, five objectives are specified: •promote convergence between the respective university systems; •invite the participation of higher education institutions of other European countries in such a process (convergence of university systems); •promote joint research programmes and life-long learning; •provide assistance to the university institutions and bodies of both countries in matters of interuniversity cooperation; •support the creation of databases and telematic links between the two university systems with a view to establishing a virtual network of information, teaching and life-long learning. A presentation in Italian is available on the web at http://www.universita-italo-francese.org; the French version can be found at http://www.universite-francoitalienne.org.  Law n. 161 of 26 May 2001 - Ratification and Implementation of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Italy and the Government of the French Republic Establishing the Italo-French University, with relative Protocol, done in Florence on 6 October 1998 (published in the Official Journal of the Italian Republic - n. 141 of 9 June 2000). 
3. The Italo-German University
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Germany and Italy play a fundamental role in the process of reform started by the Bologna Declaration. The need for closer inter-European co-operation offers a good opportunity to develop the Italo-German collaboration in the university sector. On 25 May 2002 the Italian and German rectors’ Conferences (CRUI and HRK), DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) and the University of Trento agreed to establish the so called “Italo-German University”. The project aims to make the co-operation between the university contexts of the two partners more effective, and particularly to promote the development of new joint programmes at bachelor/master level, the co-supervision of doctoral theses as well as the creation of post-graduate courses in natural sciences and technical fields. To such purposes, initiatives in the following areas are undertaken or strengthened: •information on the Italian and German university systems, their scientific research programmes, and possibilities of further co-operation; •experimentation of methods to guarantee quality; •collaboration in the development of the “virtual education” through information networks; •support of the collaboration between the university and economic systems of the two countries, also by fostering students’ training periods at the companies of the partner country; •promotion of student and staff exchanges within projects of inter-university co-operation; •promotion of language learning (Italian/German) in both university contexts; •development of university teaching methodologies and life-long learning.
“Actions for internationalisation” of the National plans for the development of the Italian University System The policies developed in recent years by the Italian Ministry for University and Research (MiUR - Ministero dell’Università e della Ricerca) to internationalise Italian universities have aimed principally at strengthening the European dimension of Italian Higher Education according to the action lines indicated in the Bologna Process, in order to contribute to the establishment of the European Higher Education Area. Such policies have generated specific “actions for internationalisation” in the three most recent plans for the development of the Italian university system. Such actions are aimed at improving quality, increasing worldwide attractiveness for European Higher Education and at exporting the European education model to the rest of the world. An articulated policy for internationalisation has been undertaken, that has made available considerable financial resources and has set out guidelines for the development of bilateral and multilateral projects aimed at joint degrees. The common thinking that underlines the three actions can be summarised as follows: •support of international student mobility; •use of ECTS system and Diploma Supplement; •participation of teachers and students from at least another country; •co-financing of projects (50%) by institutions; •quality assurance. The three actions were implemented through a national selection process  and were well received by the universities with high participation levels. Many universities demonstrated their ability to design a project, decide on resource allocation and define priorities in terms of countries and partners for international cooperation. The opportunity to give an international dimension to the new courses (laurea, laurea specialistica, dottorati di ricerca as well as master universitari) was appreciated by the academic bodies and enabled the majority of Italian universities to develop integrated curricula at international level with clearly defined objectives for the student employability. The overall scale of the public funding was significant, as well as the size of university co-financing and external funds. The outcomes of the three selection rounds are shown in tables 1, 2 and 3. Ministerial Decree 21 June 1999, n. 313 (published in the Official Journal of the Italian Republic n. 256 of 27 October 1999); Ministerial Decree 8 May 2001, n. 115 (published in the Official Journal of the Italian Republic n. 195 of 23 August 2001); Ministerial Decree 5 August 2004, n. 262 (published in the Official Journal of the Italian Republic n. 277 of 25 November 2004).  The selection procedures and programme information are available at the MiUR website (http://interlink.miur.it/). 
“Actions for internationalisation” of the National plans for the development of the Italian University System 1998-2000 Universities with approved projects Projects funded Overall funding approved by MiUR (€ ml) Funding awarded by MiUR (€ ml) University co-funding (€ ml)
Table 2 - Actions for internationalisation: type of projects funded Source: MiUR, 2006. * Summer schools, research projects, specialisation schools.
Table 1 - Actions for internationalisation: number and value of projects funded Source: MiUR, 2006.
Master universitario di I livello
Master universitario di II livello
â€œActions for internationalisationâ€? of the National plans for the development of the Italian University System Table 3 - Actions for internationalisation: projects funded by fields of study (%) Source: MiUR, 2006. * It was possible to indicate more fields of study for the same project.
Field of study
Mathematics, Physics and Natural Sciences
Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences
Civil Engineering and Architecture
Industrial and ICT Engineering
Ancient Civilisations, Philology, Literature, Art History History, Philosophy, Pedagogy and Psychology
Economics and Statistics
Social and Political Sciences
Table 4 - Actions for internationalisation: integrated programmes per type of degree awarded Source: MiUR, 2006.
The current University of Padova providing of Joint Degrees 1. Legal Premises
Ministerial Decree n. 270 of 2004 Art. 3, comma 10 â€œOn the basis of specific conventions the italian universities can deliver degrees as in this article also jointly with other italian or foreign universities. Art. 11, comma 7 letter o) The university teaching regulations, according with the statutes, discipline also the organization aspects of the teaching activity common to study courses, with particular reference to: (â€Ś) o) The method of delivering joint degrees as in article 3, comma 10.
2. University teaching regulation (16/06/2008) Art. 2 Formative offer a. The University Study of Padua may activate study courses as in the Art. 1 as well as other initiatives as in this article also in collaboration with other italian or foreign universities, delivering jointly, according to the agreed methods, the corresponding dergees on the basis of specific conventions to be prepared before the activation of the study course. Art. 21 International relationships a. In the framework of specific international interuniveirsity agreements approved by the competent academic organs inspired to reciprocity criteria, study course and other formative activities as in Art. 2 can be instituted, with alternate formation periods at the foreign Universities at the end of which achieved degrees are recognised in Italy and in the countries where the University parties are located. b. Each agreement disciplines the development method of the teaching activity, that must be in accordance with the rules of the interested Countries. c. According to holding normatives and following reciprocal principles, the University agrees, for any level of the study course, to the student mobility programs recognised by the Universities of the European Union and other exchange programs. Condition for recognising the performed study program in the foreign country and the corresponding credits is that the program has been approved by the competent teaching structure.
3. Protocol on Implementation bf the E.Ma Joint Degree Diploma a. All E.MA Students are jointly enrolled by the universities party to the present Protocol (…). b. The University of Padova is the university of the first enrolment. The other parties are universities of second enrolment. The enrolment is carried out through the following procedure, in the framework of the responsibilities and the full administrative support of the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratization (EIUC): Firstly students are pre-enrolled by the University of Padova which verifies that the requirements for admission, as established by the E.MA Council and reviewed by EIUC, are met. Secondly, upon verification of admissibility by the University of Padova, the students are jointly enrolled by all the universities party to the present Protocol. The original access documents will be kept at the university of Padova, which through EIUC will give all necessary information to the other universities party to the present Protocol. (…). The universities party to the present Protocol will issue a certificate of joint enrolment, whenever asked for by the students participating in the programme. c. EIUC collects students fees on behalf of the universities party to the present Protocol in accordance with their contractual and statutory obligations. The E.MA Council in coordination with the respective EIUC organs will establish the amount due to the universities party for their services (…). The distribution of the total collected amount will follow the rules established by the responsible organs. EIUC will send a copy of the annual financial report concerning the distribution of the fees to the universities party to the present Protocol. d. Before the final examination takes place, EIUC will send the career records (including a copy of the E.MA thesis) of each successful student to the University of Padova in order to carry out the required administrative check. e. The Joint Degree Diploma document will be provided as shown in the Annex to this Protocol (…).
4. Erasmus Mundus Program (a.j. 2007-2008) SAHC - Advanced Master in Structural Analysis of Monuments and Historical Constructions Universidade do Minho - P (Project leader) Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya – E Czech Technical University – CZ . Università di Padova, Facoltà di Ingegneria , DCT Requisito di accesso: titolo di almeno quattro anni in Ingegneria civile; Titolo rilasciato: doppio diploma di “short specialisation course” di 60 crediti SUFONAMA - Master in Sustainable Forest and Nature Management University of Copenhagen - DK (Project leader) University of Wales, Bangor – UK Georg-August-Universität Göttingen – D Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences – S Università di Padova, Facoltà di Agraria Requisito di accesso: titolo di primo ciclo; Titolo rilasciato: doppio titolo di secondo ciclo. TPTI - Techniques, Patrimoines, Territoires de l'Industrie: Histoire, Valorisation, Didactique Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - F (Project leader) Universidade de Evora – P Università di Padova, Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia Requisito di accesso: titolo di primo ciclo; Titolo rilasciato: doppio - Corso di 120 crediti.
The current Ca’ Foscari University of Venice providing of Joint degrees 1) Joint Master's Programme in Sustainable Development The two-year Master's Programme (Italian Laurea Magistrale) in Sustainable Development is aimed at highly qualified and motivated students interested in the issue of sustainable development and in the international dimension of sustainability issues. The programme offers an interdisciplinary approach, combining the specialisation in teaching and research of 6 partner universities. The Admission to the programme is open to students holding the equivalent of a Bachelor degree (Italian Laurea triennale), who will be selected on the basis of their research skills, basic knowledge of natural and/or social sciences, and a general insight in the subject of sustainable development and intervention strategies. Students apply to one of the consortium universities, and spend at least one semester at one of the partner institutions. At the successful completion of the program students will be awarded a joint or double master's degree recognized in the countries of the consortium partners.
Partners: Karl Franzens University of Graz - Austria , Ca' Foscari University of Venice - Italy ; Leipzig University - Germany ;Utrecht University - The Netherlands ; Basel University - Switzerland ; Hiroshima University - Japan Duration: 2 years (4 semesters) - 120 credits Mobility: At least one semester= 30 credits at partner university Language of instruction: English Costs: Enrolment fees according to each partner university's regulation Financial support: Erasmus grants can be obtained for mobility with the Euroepan partners
The current Ca’ Foscari University of Venice providing of Joint degrees 2) Joint Master's Degree English and American Studies for the Alps Adriatic Region
The two-year English-taught Joint Degree Program in English and American Studies for the Alps Adriatic Region is aimed at highly motivated students with a background in English and American Studies and a strong record of academic success. It offers specialized academic training in English and American Studies focusing on the three core topics of literature, linguistics and cultural studies. Partners: the universities in the consortium Bamberg (D), Graz (A), New York (USA), Pécs (H), and Venice (I) are working together to guarantee a high quality international curriculum with regional aspects. Students interested in the programme apply to one of the consortium partners as their home university, and will be able to draw on the expertise and focus of all the partners in the context of the joint degree programme. The mobility semester can be spent at any of the partner institutions as well as at Roehampton University London (UK) - an associated partner. Places are allocated according to available resources. Students must not expect to be sent to their first or second choice of mobility university, although preferences indicated in the course of the application process will be taken into account. A summer school will also be offered on an annual basis to allow students to further specialize and gather additional ECTS. At the successful completion of the programme students will be awarded a jointly conferred master's degree automatically recognized in the countries of all consortium partners.
Towards an integrated study programmes and joint degrees at Italian higher education institutions Cooperation between institutions of different countries in specific disciplines has generated common education and training activities, generally under the heading of integrated study programmes or integrated curricula, which are characterized by a common assumption of responsibility by the participating institutions as regards the curriculum design, the organization of the studies, the qualification awarded and the adoption of quality assurance criteria. 1. Curriculum design Curricular integration implies the identification of shared educational goals and the drawing up of a common study path, in some cases highly compatible with national standards and in other cases seen as a markedly ‘European’ one. Some highly integrated programmes envisage a parallel and contemporary offer of the same educational activities in all participating institutions and the complete sharing of teaching, learning and examination methods, thereby allowing participating students to follow the same course in different locations. Although mobility is seen as an essential element of the programme it does not introduce curricular variables in the study course, which must consequently be completed within the same period at all participating locations. In other programmes, the participating institutions develop specific segments which complement the overall course designed, thus making it necessary for students to spend time at each of the participating institutions. Sometimes they identify specific components of the participating institutions’ study programmes – be they basic parts of the curriculum or specialist areas – and then proceed to put together a programme which values those components to the maximum. Mobility is seen as an opportunity for integration that is important in itself but also a means of acquiring at partner institutions knowledge and skills not available at the home institution.
Towards an integrated study programmes and joint degrees at Italian higher education institutions 2. Organization of the studies The organization or management of the studies mainly concerns decisions on logistical and financial aspects of the programme, the selection of students and the choosing of the teaching staff. Organization of the studies can be highly integrated in cases where students from various institutions converge on a single location, are subject to the same selection procedures and participate in the same didactic activities contributed by teachers from different institutions. A lower level of integration occurs in cases where the periods of student mobility are limited in comparison to the overall duration of the studies, where the contribution of foreign teachers is marginal with respect to the general programme or where students are selected by each institution in accordance with different criteria.
3. Type of qualifications awarded The type of qualification awarded by partners depends on the characteristics of the programme in the previous phases. Such an approach allows to draw up a classification of the qualifications on the basis of the level of integration reached in the design and implementation of the curriculum concerned. Different models are emerging from the Italian experience on the issue of awarding qualifications: •joint “European” or “international” degree: the participating institutions jointly award a joint degree on the basis of bilateral or network agreements which envisage the completion of an integrated curriculum; •double degree: the participating institutions award the respective national qualifications on the basis of a bilateral agreement which envisage the completion of an integrated curriculum of the same duration as that provided for in each of the countries concerned; in some cases a joint certification may be added; •double degree with a prolonging of the studies: the participating institutions award their respective national degrees on the basis of bilateral agreements which envisage the completion of an integrated curriculum which is longer (generally one more year) than the national curriculum provided for in the countries concerned; •national degree with joint certification: the participating institutions award their own national degree to their own students and issue a joint certification testifying a given level of curricular integration, whose requirements are agreed at bilateral or network level.
Why a Joint degree for the EMMET Teacher? To
establish a new vision and tradition for pedagogical higher education, making profit of the experience of participating countries, in line with the most advanced and successful available experience; To establish a new status for teachers and the specialists of educational sciences; To contribute to a further development of professionality in education; To provide concrete basis for the re-planning of preservice teacher training programmes, according to the Western European Trends; To create conditions for involving students and trainees in educational research.
Published on Jul 28, 2009