ECTS for European Credit Transfer System

The ECTS is a points system developed by the European Union to facilitate the understanding and comparison of study programmes in various European countries.

ECTS is first and foremost a system designed to be totally transparent and a means by which educational institution throughout Europe can create the necessary links to give an ever wider choice of study opportunities to students. Using the ECTS system makes it easy to validate the academic results of students since the methodology for obtaining these credits is the same everywhere – credits and marks – making it easier to understand the differences between the higher education systems in various countries.

The main characteristics

The basis of the ECTS system is that the work produced by a full-time student during one academic year represents 60 credits. Since the workload of a student enrolled in a higher education programme in Europe is usually between 1,500 – 1,800 hours annually, this means that one ECTS credit represents around 25 – 30 hours of work.

ECTS credits are obtained only through the completion of a quantity of work, and an appropriate assessment of results. These results are clearly defined as the sum of knowledge or the acquisition of a skill or skills after completion of a course of study regardless of its length.

The workload of a student is considered to be made up of :

  • The time the student spends being educated, (presence in lessons, seminars, tutorials etc.)
  • The time spent in personal study (learning at home, preparation, projects, examinations etc.).

Credits are awarded for the parts of a course (attendance, presentations, training periods, research projects etc.) as a function of the amount of work required to achieve a specific objective in relation to the total time needed to successfully complete an entire year of study.

A student’s results are attributed an overall grade by the educational institution. Good practice is to add an ECTS grade, particularly when credits are to be transferred to another institution . Grades are awarded to successful students as follows :

  • A top 10% of students with a Pass mark
  • B next 25% of students with a Pass mark
  • C next 30% of students with a Pass mark
  • D next 25% of students with a Pass mark
  • E last 10% of students with a Pass mark

The necessary documents

The ECTS system is based on three elements: information (regarding the study programme and the results of the individual student), mutual agreement (between the exchange establishments and the student) and ECTS credits (representing the amount of work done by each student).

The information file/course catalogue of the higher education institution

This is designed for use by both the students and personnel in an establishment and clearly sets out all the pertinent information regarding the individual courses, the study programme, and the academic and administrative rules of the establishment. The aim of the dossier is total transparency regarding the study programme so that students and their tutors can make informed decisions regarding the organisation of any study period that a student chooses to spend abroad.

The study contract

This lays out the compulsory study programme, as well as the ECTS credits awarded on successful completion of the same (examinations, assessments, etc.). This contract is binding on the two institutions involved and the student.

Examination results and study grades

The academic achievements of a student are presented in a way that is clear, comprehensive and understandable by all parties. Where credits are to be transferred, then the student’s original establishment must convey these results to the new school before the student leaves to continue his studies there.