Universities in the United States seem to use joint and double degrees with partner institutions in Europe and Asia as an easy way to recruit international students, according to a study by the American Board of Education. This is due to deeper and meaningful cooperation.
The Council, which represents presidents of U.S. higher education institutions that award diplomas, reviewed programs that work in collaboration with higher education institutions abroad. They lead either to a single degree approved jointly by the partners, or to double diplomas issued in parallel by each partner institution.
The survey identified 193 joint or dual programs involving 89 U.S. agencies. The most common partner countries were China, France, Turkey, Germany and South Korea, and 13 other European countries are also involved.
However, enrollment appears to be strongly skewed toward students from partner countries, with only limited participation by Americans. Almost two-thirds of the programs are taught from a partner country alone.
“Given this imbalance, joint degree programs may be more of an operator to recruit international students and are likely to help perpetuate the‘ trade imbalance ’in external and internal student flows,” said Patti McGill Peterson, the council’s chief adviser. on global initiatives, in a report.
The impression created by the data is reinforced by the comments collected during the survey and subsequent interviews. One respondent noted that joint degree programs are an attractive way to recruit abroad because they are “supervised” and students have already been tested as part of the admission process to a partner institution.
This suggests that recruitment is not just about tuition fees. “American institutions are aware of the economic value that international students bring, but we see many institutions that look at educational value, as well as the contribution of international students to the overall internationalization of institutions,” said Robin Matros Helms, author of the report. .
While the presence of international students can help make the campus more international, more can be gained by sharing students between partners and discussing deeper issues such as curriculum development.
The report suggests that this may also be missing. In the case of dual degree programs, in which each institution sets its own requirements and awards degrees independently, there may be little interaction between partner institutions and their faculty, or any interaction other than back and forth credits.
The imbalance observed throughout is less pronounced for European partnerships. In this case, 51% of the programs are attended jointly by European and American students, 44% – only European students, and 5% – only American students.
Despite this, Helms believes that European partner universities should be concerned. “When students come from only one institution, only part of this cultural connection and this building of mutual understanding takes place.”
One solution is to build mutual exchange in partnerships, and the report cites two examples of this, both conceived as part of Atlantis’ EU-US cooperation program in higher education. However, the main obstacle is that American students have little appetite for international study.
One reason may be language learning, which is declining in the US. “American students who can do coursework at the university level in a language other than English are becoming increasingly rare,” says Helms. European partners could respond with more English-language programs.
A more serious obstacle is that American students do not see the benefits of obtaining an additional international degree if it is not directly relevant to their field of study or if they are planning an international career. In this case, institutions respond to shorter terms of foreign study combined with joint and double degrees.
“In this case, Americans will not receive a certificate from a foreign institution, but then there is a two-way flow of students,” – says Helms about the problem.