ECTS credits system
All you need to know about the ECTS credit
WHAT IS A CREDIT SYSTEM?
A credit system is a systematic method of describing an educational programme by attaching credits to its components. The definition of credits in higher education systems is based on different parameters, such as student workload, learning outcomes and number of contact hours.
WHAT IS ECTS?
The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System is a student-centred system based on the student workload required to achieve the objectives of a programme. Such objectives are defined in terms of learning outcomes and competences to be acquired.
HOW DID ECTS DEVELOP?
ECTS was introduced in 1989, within the framework of Erasmus. ECTS is the only credit system that has been successfully tested and used across Europe. ECTS was set up initially for credit transfer, but it has also facilitated the recognition of periods of study abroad and thus enhanced the quality and volume of student mobility in Europe. Recently ECTS is developing into a credit-based accumulation system to be implemented at institutional, regional, national and European level. This is one of the key objectives of the Bologna Declaration of June 1999.
WHY INTRODUCE ECTS?
ECTS makes study programmes easier to read and compare for all students, local and foreign, while also facilitating mobility and academic recognition. ECTS helps universities to organise and revise their study programmes. It can be used across a variety of programmes and ways of teaching. Finally ECTS makes European higher education more attractive for students from other continents.
WHAT ARE THE KEY FEATURES OF ECTS?
One academic year= 60 CREDITS
ECTS is based on the convention that the workload of a full-time student during one academic year is equivalent to 60 credits. The student workload of a full-time study programme in Europe amounts in most cases to 36/40 weeks per year and in those cases one credit stands therefore for 25 to 30 working hours. Workload refers to the notional time an average learner might expect to complete the required learning outcomes.
HOW ARE LEARNING OUTCOMES QUANTIFIED?
Credits are also a way of quantifying the outcomes of learning. Learning outcomes are sets of competences, expressing what the student should know, understand or be able to do after completion of a process of learning, short or long. Credits in ECTS can only be obtained after completion of the work required and appropriate assessment of the learning outcomes achieved.
THE ALLOCATION OF ECTS CREDITS
The allocation of ECTS credits is based on the official length of a study programme cycle. The total workload necessary to obtain a first cycle degree lasting officially three or four years is expressed as 180 or 240 credits.
Student workload as expressed in ECTS includes the time spent in attending lectures, seminars, independent study, preparation for, and taking of, examinations, etc. Credits are allocated to all educational components of a study programme (such as modules, courses, placements, dissertation work, etc.) and reflect the quantity of work each component requires in relation to the total quantity of work necessary to complete a full year of study in the programme considered.
THE ECTS GRADING SCALE
The ECTS grading scale ranks the students on a statistical basis. Therefore, statistical data on student performance is a prerequisite for applying the ECTS grading system. Grades are assigned among students with a pass grade as follows:
- A best 10%
- B next 25%
- C next 30%
- D next 25%
- E next 10%
A distinction is made between the grades FX and F that are used for unsuccessful students. FX means: “fail ─ some more work required to pass” and F means: “fail – considerable further work required”.
WHAT ARE THE KEY DOCUMENTS OF ECTS?
The Course Catalogue of the institution to be published in two languages (or only in English for programmes taught in English) available on the Web and/or in hard copy. The Course Catalogue must contain information for host students from abroad.
The Learning Agreement contains the list of courses to be taken and agreed upon by the student and the responsible academic person of the institution concerned. In case of credit transfer, the Learning Agreement has to be agreed upon by the student and the two institutions concerned before the student’s departure and to be updated immediately once the student has arrived in the host institution if changes occur.
The Transcript of Records documents the performance of a student by showing the list of courses taken, the credits gained as well as the local grades and possibly ECTS grades awarded. In case of credit transfer, the Transcript of Records has to be issued by the home institution for outgoing students before departure and by the host institution for incoming students within five weeks of the end of their period of study.