What are ECTS credits?
The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) bridges and creates transparency between educational institutions and attempts to facilitate academic recognition in order to widen the choices available to European students. This system makes use of measurements - credits - to promote the exchange of higher education students among European universities.
Main characteristics of ECTS
The ECTS system is based on three core elements:
- Information on study programmes and student achievement
- Mutual agreement between the partner institutions and the student
- The use of ECTS credits to indicate student workload.
These three core elements are made operational through the use of three key documents: the information package, the application form/ learning agreement and transcript of records. Most of all, ECTS is made operational by students, teachers and institutions who want to make study abroad an integral part of the educational programme. ECTS in no way regulates the content, structure or equivalence of study programmes. These are issues of quality, which have to be determined by the higher education institutions themselves, when establishing a satisfactory basis for cooperation agreements, bilaterally or multilaterally. The code of good practice, called ECTS, provides those actors with tools to create transparency and to facilitate academic recognition.
Full academic recognition is a condition sine qua non for student mobility in the framework of the Erasmus and Socrates programmes. Full academic recognition means that the study period abroad (including examinations or other forms of assessment) replaces a comparable period of study at the home university (including examinations or other forms of assessment), though the content of the agreed study programme may differ.
The use of ECTS is voluntary and is based on mutual trust and confidence in the academic performance of partner institutions. Each institution selects its own partners.
ECTS provides transparency through the following means:
- ECTS credits
- The ECTS information package
- The ECTS learning agreement
- The ECTS transcript of records
The institutional and departmental coordinators, appointed by each institution to deal with the administrative and academic aspects of ECTS, use these tools. It is their role to advice and counsel students who wish to participate in ECTS.
By using ECTS, transparency of curricula and students' learning achievements are created, which in turn facilitates academic recognition.
ECTS credits are a value allocated to course units to describe the student workload required to complete them. They reflect the quantity of work each course requires in relation to the total quantity of work required to complete a full year of academic study at the institution, that is, lectures, practical work, seminars, private work - in the laboratory, library or at home - and examinations or other assessment activities.
ECTS is thus based on a full student workload and not limited to contact hours only. In ECTS, 60 credits represent the workload of an academic year of study and normally 30 credits for a semester and 20 credits for a term. ECTS credits ensure that the programme will be reasonable in terms of workload for the period of study abroad.
All the study units that the students have completed during his studies are recorded on the transcript of records. It describes the study achievements in ECTS credits and with ECTS grades.
ECTS credits are a numerical value allocated to course units to describe the student workload required to complete them. They specify the quantity of work each course unit requires in relation to the total quantity of work necessary to complete a full academic year of studies, at the department in question. Lectures, exercises, seminars, and the other forms of instruction, as well as independent research, are all regarded as credit work.
ECTS is thus based on a full student workload and not limited to contact hours only.
ECTS provides information on the student's performance, allowing to easily translate the grades awarded by the host institution.
ECTS grading scale
Examination and assessment are usually expressed in grades. There are many different grading systems in Europe.
To help institutions to translate the grades awarded by host institutions to ECTS students, the ECTS grading scale has been developed.
This provides additional information on the student's performance additionally to the one provided by the institution's grade, but does not replace the local grade. Higher education institutions make their own decisions on how to apply the ECTS grading scale to their own system.