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Erasmus Mundus community – joint degrees under the magnifying glass

The first annual conference under the Erasmus Mundus Support Initiative (EMSI) took place in Brussels on 30 November – 1 December 2023, under the title Boosting the potential of joint degrees in Erasmus Mundus Master Programmes. The international event brought together over 250 participants from all over Europe and facilitated dynamic discussions on the added value and different views on Joint Degrees (JD), from diverse stakeholder perspectives (representatives of higher education institutions and Erasmus Mundus study programmes, students, employers, national ministries, European Commission, and quality assurance agencies).  

The political salience of JDs was emphasised by the EU representatives, through the objective of increasing the number of JDs in order to enhance the attractiveness of Europe as a study destination, and also highlighted through the ongoing developments towards the Joint European Degree label. Several representatives of the consortia currently piloting the criteria for the label provided an update via a related panel at the conference. 

The event participants reflected on the added value of JDs compared to multiple degrees and explored measures needed to promote awareness. They also exchanged on ongoing challenges and persistent obstacles, and identified key enabling mechanisms, together with good JD practices at the institutional, national, and European levels.  

From the students’ perspective, the push for JDs in Erasmus Mundus Master’s programmes contributes to a more coherent study path, focused specialisation and to a more holistic study experience. Students' role as multipliers in communicating the added value of a joint degree is key. Employers’ representatives also recognised the potential benefits of joint degrees, through the associated learning outcomes, and emphasised the need for the study programmes to be more closely aligned with labour market requirements. 

At the event, the Erasmus Mundus consortia were also invited to register on the newly launched Erasmus Mundus Community Platform, which aims to support knowledge-sharing and peer learning between the Erasmus Mundus beneficiaries. The community is hosted under the umbrella Erasmus Networks Platform. 

Overall, the conference highlighted how the flagship initiative Erasmus Mundus triggers change and innovation at the higher education policy level, as well as in participating study programmes, higher education institutions, and the systems they are part of. In 2024, the Erasmus Mundus programme will be turning 20, an important milestone that will be marked by the European Commission through an anniversary conference and the publication of a related study on the impact of the programme at the institutional level.   

The four-year (2023 – 2027) Erasmus Mundus Support Initiative (EMSI) is funded by the European Union (EU) under the Erasmus+ programme and implemented for EACEA and the European Commission, by a consortium formed of NTT DATA, ACA, DAAD (Brussels) and TIPIK.