Community events

Digitalising joint programmes:

The way(s) forward on the path towards Joint European Degrees

15th March 2023, 9AM – 5PM, Norway House – Rue Archimède 17, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium

Morning session

Future prospects on Joint European Degrees and the digitalisation of Joint Programmes
 Joint European Degrees: results of the 1st pilot call and next steps – Yann-Mael Bideau, Policy Officer at the European Commission
 Joint Programmes: what future? – speaker TBC
 Digitalisation of teaching and learning in the context of internationalisation of Higher Education – speaker TBC

The GO-DIJIP & JPROV Projects: key findings, outcomes and tools

Presentation & discussion with the two projects’ coordinators:
 Alessandra Gallerano, Head of Projects & Mobility Office, University of Padua, Italy
 Mirko Varano, Senior Advisor International Projects at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden

Lunch and networking

Afternoon session

What role can Higher Education Institutions play in enabling the success of digitally enhanced Joint Programmes?
Panel discussion with:
 Prof. Matthias Middell, Coordinator of the Arqus Joint Master’s Programme in “European studies” and Vice-Rector for Campus Development, Cooperation and Internationalisation, Leipzig University, Germany
 Prof. Olli-Pekka Mutanen, I&E minor coordinator in EIT Digital ICT Innovation programme, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland
 Brianna Swan, student of the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master GENIAL

Dinner and networking

This is a free event.

Results from the JPROV Campfire at Stockholm  

A JPROV campfire was arranged with participants from different sectors of education with the objectives of analyzing different styles of joint programmes.  

This page presents the results from the campfire and compares the different ideas of the regular joint programme group to programmes with shorter or virtual mobilities.   

Traditional joint programmes (1 year of physical stay at university B) 

Students participating in traditional joint programmes face the challenge of being away from home for a year. A year can be a long time to be away from friends, work, or family. The traditional joint programmes can also be very expensive for those coming from countries with lower living costs. 

Additionally, students must get used to a new culture and way of living, which can be difficult for some people. 

Shorter mobilities 

In this category we include: 

  • Mobilities ranging from 3 months all the way to a semester 
  • Very short mobilities (summer school, field visits, thesis work or internships from 1 week to a month) 

Shorter mobilities are a lower cost alternative that may even remove the need to apply for visas and residence permits. Those aspects make joint programmes with shorter or no mobilities more inclusive for people with jobs, families or some medical conditions that make longer stays difficult. However, there are some drawbacks to these programmes, including difficulties in planning a programme structure, the cost of living, possible extra trips between universities and less opportunities to get to know the culture and employers of the target country. These challenges are discussed below. 

Programme structure 

Planning the programme structure with shorter mobilities is more difficult, as there are fewer opportunities to schedule courses or even be on-site.  


Access to labs during thesis writing must be considered. Students should consider the type of facilities that the receiving university has when writing a thesis, especially in the fields of engineering, science or design. A short mobility, however, can be an attractive option for students seeking specialized tools not available at their home university. 

Cost of living 

The cost of living is a problem, as it can be more difficult to find a place to stay for that amount of time – hotels/hostels are expensive but short-lease rental apartments are difficult to find. In addition, keeping the apartment in the student’s own country often means paying for two apartments for a semester.  

Very short mobilities and especially online joint programmes are a more affordable way to attend a joint programme. 

Less career opportunities 

Traditional joint programmes provide more career opportunities than non-traditional joint programmes. A very short or virtual mobility provides less opportunities to network, meet local employers, get to know the working culture, or do internships. 

Goals for joint programmes – Increased participation 

The most important goal when developing these programmes is to increase student participation through inclusivity and accessibility for those who cannot attend traditional long joint programmes. 

In this case, short mobilities can be used to make virtual exchanges something more than online classes, however there are challenges to be considered.  

The biggest problem with online programmes is that many countries or universities do not allow credits to be given if the student is not physically present for up to 90% of the time, meaning that the online portion could be as little as 10%. Changes to the legislation are needed for joint programmes with shorter mobilities to become possible in all the Unite! universities, but this will most likely take years to change. 

Even if a university or a country would allow students to get credits from online studies, they might have other requirements that make online joint programmes less feasible. Admission, exams and graduation can require being at the university in person, which can result in the student travelling to the target university multiple times. That can mean increased cost, hassle and emissions. 

Nevertheless, during the JPROV campfire in KTH, participants ideated ways to enhance virtual exchanges and joint programmes. The ideas are presented below. 

Developing short joint programmes and virtual exchanges 

Thesis work or very short mobility

It is unlikely that students would want to limit their academic activities to only thesis writing while studying abroad. In order to make it a more attractive option, remote thesis writing with a short mobility to access specialized labs can be a bonus for mostly-virtual mobilities. 

Access to labs is needed for many technological theses. If students are writing their thesis remotely, they need to have access to the labs at their own university to conduct their experiments, even if they’re technically studying in another university. The thesis can also – and in most cases – must be co-supervised by academics from the two universities. 

Internship and Intensive Blended Programmes as a part of a joint programme 

Internships could be included as a mandatory part of a joint programme. They could bridge the gap between regular and shorter mobilities as the students could earn money and experience the work culture of the target country. The internship could also be conducted online during the virtual part of the joint programme.  

One alternative to an internship could be shorter activities with NGOs, like a competition or a case study that could be completed at the NGO.  

Erasmus+ now offers the possibility to set up Blended Intensive Programmes with short physical mobilities completed by an online component. The most typical format is the one of Summer/Winter schools during or at the end of year 2, that allow students to visit the second universities and work together with the other peers for short intensive periods and limited costs. 

Initial physical meeting 

A week or two in an intensive summer school or field visit organized by university B can be a good way to kickstart a joint programme and get to know all the people taking part. A short mobility is a lot easier to arrange than a longer one and can also be very beneficial for otherwise virtual joint programmes.  

Scalable online courses 

Asynchronous virtual courses can be very good at providing instant feedback to both the student and the teacher, which can be very beneficial at least with certain kinds of courses. They are also very scalable and the online learning environments can be used multiple times.  

Online course quality 

Online courses are a double-edged sword – they can be very good, or very bad. The quality of the course and the online learning environment matter a lot more than in a regular course. This means that such courses are more difficult to create, but when achieving scalability, the amount of resources/student diminishes. 

Many universities seem to encounter difficulties with compensating the teachers for creating such courses, as the teacher must often spend a lot less time holding lectures or grading answers, especially when the course is held more than once, but the preparation time for an online course tends to be higher.  

Language tandem during the virtual exchange 

Language exchanges can be a nice way for students to interact with people from different countries and test their language skills before the beginning of or during their physical or virtual mobility at university B. 

Overlapping physical presence for one semester mobilities 

Even though the students spend only one semester at their target university, the experience could be a bit more international if the mobilities are arranged in such a way that students from university A are at university B at the same time as the students from university B are studying online in university A and vice versa. That way the group could stay together for the year, even though they’d have different studies. 

On the other hand, having the physical mobilities at the same time could allow students to relatively easily exchange apartments with each other, even if they did not meet each other. If the joint programme also included a short summer school before the exchange, they could also meet each other before exchanging apartments. 

Embedded mobility instead of a joint programme 

Embedded mobility could solve one of the biggest problems with joint programmes with shorter mobilities: credit transfer. Activities conducted at the target university could be recognized by the home university that would give the credits. This is currently done at Grenoble INP. 

Increasing virtual elements in the joint programme

In Joint Programmes with residence at one university only, two degree-issuing universities could offer a joint programme with residence at only oneuniversity plus a virtual exchange only at another university.

A final option could be entirely online joint programmes, where two degree-issuing universities offer a fully online joint programme (one year of virtual mobility at one university plus one year of virtual mobility at another university).