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Stellenbosch University has agreements with a limited number of partner institutions in different countries for the enrolment of joint degree candidates. Most of the agreements are for enrolment at doctoral level. The list of possible institutions with whom Stellenbosch University can enrol joint degree candidates changes as new agreements are concluded. See further on for a recent list.

Definition of a joint degree:

A joint degree results from international academic collaboration between Stellenbosch University and a partner institution abroad on a jointly defined and entirely shared study programme leading to a joint degree. All partner institutions are responsible for the entire programme and not just their own separate parts. A joint degree is a single qualification awarded by joint decision of the partner institutions. If the partner(s) cannot come to a joint decision to award the joint degree, none of the partners may then proceed to award the degree outside the agreement as a single institution degree.

Criteria for concluding a new joint degree agreement:​​

When decisions are to be taken with which foreign university joint degrees can be offered by Stellenbosch University, the following six requirements as a whole must be met in a substantial manner:

It must fit in within the vision and mission of Stellenbosch University and contribute to attaining the goals of Stellenbosch University;
Stellenbosch University must benefit from the complementarity of the particular foreign university;
The foreign university must have the appropriate expertise in the research area in which the joint degree can be awarded;
Stellenbosch University must have the appropriate expertise in the research area in which the joint degree can be awarded;
There must be reasonable prospects of student movement to and from Stellenbosch University and the foreign university;
​The number of agreements for the awarding of joint degrees are strictly limited to agreements which have reasonable prospects of sustainability and active functioning based on a proven track record of collaboration between the institutions.

What is required to put a new joint degree in place:

If a new joint degree agreement is required, the request must be initiated by the supervisor of the prospective PhD student and must fulfil the criteria mentioned above.​
Entering into a new joint degree agreement on behalf of a single candidate as a once-off arrangement is not possible.
There is a set of documents that is required for any new joint degree agreement. These documents are developed in collaboration with the prospective partner institution and must be approved by both institutions. At Stellenbosch University, for each joint degree agreement there must usually be:
  • an institutional Memorandum of Understanding in place with the partner university;
  • a general framework agreement which governs the award of joint degrees between the partners, usually across all Faculties but which is non-specific to any individual student; and
  • a candidate agreement which is usually unique to an individual student and specifies how the different elements of the general framework agreement will apply to the individual's project and case.

Important considerations:

Joint degree arrangements require a substantial matching of processes, rules and regulations and take a considerable amount of time to negotiate new cases. Where there is an existing general framework agreement, it is usually straightforward to conclude a candidate agreement because the basic principles are already agreed. It is therefore preferable to contemplate joint degree agreements with existing partners
At Stellenbosch University, new joint degree agreements must be considered and recommended/declined by a Joint Degree Committee (JDC). The JDC meets on an ad-hoc basis, which allows for new agreements to be considered regularly, subject to demand and the availability of the JDC members. The decisions of the JDC are reported by the Postgraduate Office, via the Academic Planning Committee to Senate (for information purposes).
A joint degree involves time spent by the student at both institutions. From a student perspective, there are thus several costs that must be taken into account, including travel expenses, the cost of accommodation and living abroad, visa and insurance costs. 
From a supervisor's perspective, factors which may add significantly to the cost of funding a joint degree, are the requirement for the student to pay fees at the partner (if they are a bursary-recipient locally), the constitution of the joint examination committee and funding the travel of examiners to ensure their presence at the defense (panels are often larger than usual and most, if not all examiners must be physically present at the examination and defence), etc.

Stellenbosch University's existing joint degree partners:

The list of institutions with whom we can enrol joint PhD degree candidates is not fixed but it is limited. New agreements are negotiated from time to time and therefore this list will change. Not all the agreements are applicable to all prospective candidates.

​Coventry University
Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)
Friedrich Schiller University of Jena (FSU)
Ghent UniversityHasselt University     
KU Leuven​
Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen    
Reutlingen University (Master's only)*         
Université de Bordeaux
Université de Montpellier
Universiteit Antwerpen
​University of Göttingen (Master's only)*
​University of Groningen​
​University of Hamburg
​University of Leipzig (includes Master's*)
Università degli Studi di Padova
​Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA)
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier
Université Clermont Auvergne
* Only available in specific disciplines

What you need to know to do a joint degree with an existing partner:

  • As the supervisor, you need to find a supervisor from an existing partner university with whom we have an agreement for joint degrees who is interested and willing to jointly supervise a student with you.
  • Once there is agreement between the supervisors, the student concerned must apply and be admitted at both institutions.
  • A candidate agreement must be concluded between the partners for the student in which a number of important things are addressed, such as how much time the student will spend at each institution, how their enrolment at both institutions will be financed and who will bear the cost of assembling the joint examination committee. Templates are available per partner institution.
  • You need to be aware of the costs involved and make allowance for these to sustain the student's participation in the joint degree, unless the student is self-funded. In this ​case, the student needs to ensure that they have sufficient funds in order to fulfil their obligations to be present at the partner institution for the minimum required time. ​

email.png​  For more information, send an email to postgraduate@sun.ac.za  

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