European Credit Transfer System(ECTS)
The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) is a student- centred system based on the student workload required to achieve the objectives of a programme, objectives preferably specified in terms of the learning outcomes and competences to be acquired.
ECTS was introduced in 1989, within the framework of Erasmus, now part of the Lifelong Learning programme. ECTS is the only credit system which has been successfully tested and used across Europe. ECTS was set up initially for credit transfer. The system facilitated the academic recognition of study abroad and thus enhanced the quality and volume of student mobility in Europe. Recently ECTS is developing into an 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.
Nevertheless, it should be noticed that ECTS itself does not regulate the content, the structure or the equivalence of the academic curricula. These are quality matters which must be solved by the institutions, so as to ensure a sufficient base for the bilateral or multilateral cooperation agreements.
- Key Features of ECTS
- ECTS is based on the principle that 60 credits measure the workload of a full-time student during one (1) academic year. The student workload of a full- time study programme in Europe amounts in most cases to around 1500-1800 hours per year and in those cases one credit stands for around 25 to 30 working hours.
- Credits are allocated to all educational components of a study programme
- A Learning Agreement should be signed, before the student’s departure abroad, by the home institution, the host institution and the student; this agreement should describe the list of courses to be taken with the ECTS credits which will be awarded for each course. The Learning Agreement should also be escorted by the Transcript of Records, which documents the performance of a student by showing the list of courses taken and the ECTS local or national credits gained. The Transcript of Records has to be issued by the home institution for outgoing students before departure. Also, the Transcript of Records should be issued by the host institution for incoming students at the end of their period of study.
- The home institution should acknowledge the ECTS credits the students received by the cooperation institutions and replace them with the equivalent local credits the students would have received in the same period of studies
The Commission suggests that the most universities ought to add an ECTS grade in their local/national grade, in particular in case of credit transfer. The Universities which apply for assistance, within the framework of Erasmus, are encouraged to use ECTS system or to expand it in a wider spectrum of departments/faculties.