Since the establishment of CLUSTER, thousands of students have spent time at partner universities elsewhere in Europe. However, the options beyond staying just one or two semesters abroad have since been expanded. It was not long before the idea for rewarding exchange students with a ‘double degree’ was born; everyone who had done a part of their study program at a partner university would receive a diploma from both universities, subject to certain conditions. For many years, these conditions were laid down by the universities involved in the bilateral contacts. As a result, the conditions often differed from study program to study program, and from university to university. For some study programs, for example, students had to take a ‘bridging semester’, for others note. This changed in 2003/2004.
It was in that year that the partners signed a declaration recognizing all Bachelor’s and Master’s diplomas in the CLUSTER network. This declaration formed the basis for a European dual Master’s program – everyone taking the first year of their Master’s at one CLUSTER university and the second at another would receive a Master’s degree from both universities. Institutional agreements have been signed for a 5-year renewable, in the frame of “CLUSTER Dual Master Degree” programmes.
“For me, it has always been important to discuss university matters in confidence. We met twice a year, talking about accreditation processes, the relationship with industry, the grants system, and the relationship between pre-university education and university education in the Netherlands. We tend to think that it is only the Netherlands that is affected by that, but it is just as relevant an issue in Stockholm.” Hans van Duijn
“After the Treaty of Bologna, we knew more about everyone else’s education systems, although that tells us little about the substance of a title,” says Heinzel. “We therefore met to evaluate the quality aspects of the titles.”
Ramon Wyss, the vice-president of the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, describes it as “a very powerful declaration”. “And it is very useful for, say, a Dutch student wishing to do his Master’s at a department somewhere else in Europe, where they may never have heard of Eindhoven.”
Dual Master’s programs do not exist for every department at every CLUSTER university: setting them up still takes a lot of time and consultation. However, this process is made considerably easier thanks to the standard agreement. For PhD students, too, the network has become more active as the years have progressed. In October 2011, for example, the first ‘doctoral school’ was held in Tällberg, Sweden. PhD students from all over Europe spent a week taking courses on ‘materials for energy’. The school was coordinated by KTH, with professors – also from all over Europe – coming to Tällberg to give lessons.
As a student you can graduate with a valid degree from two CLUSTER universities. Please ask your student counselling at your university for more information.
CLUSTER aims to increase interaction with student bodies and student unions in upcoming meetings. Please contact the Secretary General for more information.