Policy on Shared Interuniversity Graduate Programs

The Western Canadian Deans of Graduate Studies (WCDGS) support the development of shared graduate programs between universities. These programs can provide a means of sharing resources, combining academic expertise between institutions and making innovative programs available to students. They can also facilitate research collaboration among universities and the public and private sectors. Such shared programs become increasingly feasible as new educational technologies enhance the quality of distance education. Shared graduate programs must be designed to meet the same high academic standards as conventional graduate programs. Their administration must recognize the autonomy and quality-control processes of the participating universities, while avoiding unnecessary duplication.

The following principles will apply:

Standards of quality: Shared graduate programs must satisfy the minimum standards for degrees at that level (masters or doctoral), agreed upon in advance by all participating universities. These academic standards pertain to admission requirements, number of credits, program requirements, passing grades, access to resources, quality of faculty, time limits, thesis or project requirements etc.

Program requirements: When a proposal is made for a specific shared graduate program, participating universities will establish, through initial consultation with the respective Deans of Graduate Studies, the requirements for the proposed program and a list of available resources (courses, faculty members, equipment, library facilities etc.).
Each university will determine its own internal procedures and criteria for approval of specific shared graduate programs. Willingness to participate will be shown by the signatures of relevant department chairs, deans and the graduate dean.

Program management: One institution must assume responsibility for the coordination of the administration of the shared program. The management structure of the program, for example a coordinating committee, shall be agreed upon in advance by the participating universities. The coordinating university will distribute reports to all participants at an agreed-upon interval. Formal reviews of a shared program must be held every five or six years, following a procedure agreed to by the participants.

Distance education: Courses included in shared programs which are offered using distance technology must conform to the standards of the WCDGS/CAGS Distance Education Policy. If a program intends to use new modes of course delivery, such as interactive video or compacted time frame, then this intent should be clearly articulated at the initial stages of program discussions.

Sharing of revenue: Shared programs must be designed to provide academic and financial benefits to all participating universities. Arrangements for sharing revenue and costs must be specified at the outset, and agreed to by the participating institutions. Any changes to these arrangements must be formally approved by these institutions.

Students in shared programs will be admitted by one of the participating universities (the home university). Arrangements for payment of program fees, incidental fees, and fees for courses taken at other participating universities will be specified at the outset. The degree will be awarded by the university to which the student has been admitted. If a component of the program will use the Western Deans Agreement, this must be specified at the outset.

Approval of programs and courses: Each institution awarding the degree must approve the program by its own internal process, thereby retaining its autonomy. Courses to be offered as part of a shared program would be approved by each institution.