European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) is a standard for comparing the study attainment and performance of students of higher education across the European Union and other collaborating European countries. Its aim is, to makes programmes and the performance of students of higher education more transparent and comparable European-wide and to replace or complement the different local (national) standards within Europe.
For successfully completed studies, ECTS credits are awarded. One academic year corresponds to 60 ECTS-credits that are equivalent to 1500–1800 hours of study in all countries respective of standard or qualification type and is used to facilitate transfer and progression throughout the Union.
ECTS also includes a standard ECTS grading scale:
Since many grading systems co-exist in Europe (there are nearly as many different grading systems as countries), the ECTS grading scale has been developed to provide a common measure and facilitate the transfer of students and their grades between European higher education institutions (to make grades more comparable to each other), by allowing national and local grading systems to be interchangeable. Each institution makes its own decision on how to apply the ECTS grading scale to its system.
The ECTS grade is not meant to replace the local grades but to be used as a supplement aside the local grades. The ECTS grade is indicated alongside the mark awarded by the host institution on the student's Transcript of Records. The receiving institutions then convert the ECTS grade to their own system. Higher education institutions are recommended (though not forced) to provide ECTS grades for all of their students and to take into account the ECTS grades awarded by other institutions.
Similarly to the American grading scale it is based on the class percentile. That means, that the grade shows how a student performed compared to the other students in the same class. Before the evaluation, the results are divided into the two subgroups pass and fail. Therefore, the results are independent from the students who failed a course.
How does the ECTS benefit students?
The ECTS is a learner-centered system based on the student workload required to achieve a certain course outcomes. The workload refers to the amount of time a student needs to complete the learning activities, such as self-study, seminars, projects or exams, to achieve the course outcomes.
The credits can be attached to study programs, courses or even modules within a course. Furthermore, students can accumulate credits and pass them over to other institutions to continue with their studies. Therefore, the ECTS is also referred to as European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System.
How many ECTS is an academic year worth?
A full-time student would need to complete 60 ECTS per academic year, which represents about 1,500 to 1,800 hours of study. According to the ECTS, study programs in Europe are worth the following number of credits:
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