European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)
European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECT) credits are a standard means for comparing the “volume of learning based on the defined learning outcomes and their associated workload” for higher education across the European Union and other collaborating European countries.
ECTS credits are awarded for successfully completed studies and are used to facilitate transfer and progression throughout the Union.
One academic year corresponds to 60 ECTS credits which are normally equivalent to 1500–1800 hours of total workload, irrespective of standard or qualification type.
ECTS also includes a standard grading scale, intended to be shown in addition to local (i.e. national) standard grades. ECTS is a credit system designed to make it easier for students to move between different countries to study.
Since they are based on the learning achievements and workload of a course, a student can transfer their ECTS credits from one university to another so they are added up to contribute to an individual’s degree programme or training.
ECTS also makes it possible to merge different types of learning, such as university and work-based learning, within the same programme of study or in a lifelong learning perspective.
ECTS helps to make learning more student-centred, through the planning, delivery and evaluation of study programmes making them more transparent.
The differences between national systems can lead to problems with the recognition of educational qualifications from other countries and of periods of study taken abroad, so greater transparency of learning achievements simplifies the recognition of studies done in other countries.
ECTS is a central tool in the Bologna Process, which aims to make national systems more compatible. ECTS credits represent the workload and defined learning outcomes of a given course or programme.
60 credits are the equivalent of a full year of study or work, and in a standard academic year, 60 credits would be broken down into several smaller components.
A typical Bachelor’s (or “first cycle”) Degree, would consist of 180 or 240 credits, whereas a typical Master’s (or “second cycle”) Degree, would consist of 90 or 120 credits, with at least 60 credits at second cycle level.
The use of ECTS at the Ph.d level (or “third cycle”) varies. ECTS has been adopted by most of the countries in the European Higher Education Area(EHEA), and is increasingly used elsewhere.
The ECTS Users’ Guidepdf describes the ECTS credit system, and how to use it. ECTS is also used in other documents that help to organise students’ learning mobility, including; The Course Catalogue, The Learning Agreement amd The Transcript of Records
The ECTS Labels are honorary distinctions and are awarded to higher education institutions that demonstrate the correct implementation of ECTS principles and requirements.
ECTS helps higher education institutions to enhance their cooperation with other institutions by; improving access to information on foreign curricula, and providing common procedures for academic recognition.
ECTS can be used within one institution or between institutions within one country and also guarantees academic recognition of studies abroad.
ECTS enables access to regular courses alongside local students, with the benefit of full participation in the academic life of the host institution, distinguishing it from many other student mobility programmes.
ECTS enables further studies abroad, ie student may prefer not to go Back to the home institution after the study period abroad, possibly to gain a degree or to move to a third institution.
The institutions decide whether or not this is acceptable and what conditions the student must fulfil in order to get a diploma or transfer registration. Examination and assessment results are usually expressed in grades.
There are many different grading systems in Europe, and the ECTS grading scale has been developed to help institutions translate the grades awarded by host institutions to ECTS students. This provides additional information on the student’s performance to that given by the institution’s grade, without replacing the local grade.
The main tools used to make ECTS work and facilitate academic recognition are; the information package. Institutions that want to use ECTS produce an information package to be updated annually, in which they describe the courses available at the institution.
It provides general information about the institution, its location, student accommodation, administrative procedures necessary to register and academic calendar.
Good course information is essential to prepare serious study abroad and descriptions covering the content, prerequisites, mode of assessment, time unit, type of course, teaching and learning methods employed and ECTS credits allocated are all included in the information package, along with a description of the department offering the course. Details of examination and assessment procedures, the institution’s grading scale and the structure of the curriculum of the degree are also included.
The information package is produced in both the national language and in a second Community language, and are circulated to partner institutions for students and professors to consult and use in planning study abroad programmes.
The learning agreement, is drawn up by the individual student and institutions involved before the student goes abroad to describes the programme of study abroad and
The transcript of records, shows the learning achievements of the student prior to and after the period of study abroad. The transcript of records show for every course taken by the student not only the ECTS credits including the grade awarded according to the local grading scale and the ECTS grading scale.
These tools are used by the institutional and departmental coordinators, appointed by each institution to deal with the administrative and academic aspects of ECTS. It is their role to advise and counsel students who wish to participate in ECTS.
By using ECTS, transparency of curricula and students’ learning achievements is created, which in turn facilitates academic recognition. Institutions prepare and exchange transcripts of records for each student participating in ECTS.
A copy of the transcript is given to the student and exchanged between the home and the host institutions before and after the period of study abroad.
This is possible as long as the institutions involved agrees and the student accepts the conditions to be fulfilled to get a diploma or to transfer registration.
By providing a history of the students’ academic achievements, the transcript of records is a particularly useful means of helping institutions to make these decisions further opening up Europe to student mobility.
Higher education institutions are encouraged to introduce ECTS within the framework of their institutional contract with the Commission.