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European Credit Transfer System in Europe - ECTS in Europe
 
The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) is a system based on allocation and transfer of academic credits. It was developed and tested in a pilot scheme by 145 European institutions of higher education from all Member States and EFTA countries. ECTS was developed as an instrument of improving academic recognition throughout the European Universities by means of effective and general mechanisms.
ECTS serves as a model of academic recognition, as it provides greater transparency of study programmes and student achievement. ECTS in no way regulates the content, structure and or equivalence of study programmes. These are issues of quality which have to be determined by the higher education institutions themselves when establishing a satisfactory basis for co-operation agreements, bilaterally or multilaterally. 
 
The main characteristics of ECTS are: 
  • Credits are allocated to each course unit. The starting point is the normal pattern of courses a student would have to take in an academic year. 60 credits represent the workload of an academic year of study.
  • Each institution produces an information package as a guide to all courses available to ECTS students. The courses are described not only in terms of content but also have credits added to each course.
  • Before the student leaves for the host institution, the home institution, the host institution and the student sign a learning agreement in which the study programme abroad is agreed upon. A transcript of records which gives all details of previous higher education is attached to the learning agreement.
  • The transcript of records lists all successfully completed courses together with details on the course, code, content and credits.
  • The home institution guarantees full academic recognition. The study period abroad replaces a comparable period of study at the home university.
 
In order to promote a universal implementation of ECTS as part of ERASMUS (or student transfer from one university to other university), the European Commission respects the right of each institute of higher education, to choose whatever recognition methods or agreements best suit their particular needs.
 
If, however, student mobility is to provide universal academic recognition, as many universities as possible should give thought to a system of recognition using commonly understood measurements. 
 
ECTS has so far proved the best instrument to create transparency. Universities that receive financial support for their ERASMUS programmes should envisage measurements to implement ECTS at their institution - or if it is already in use, to try to progress ECTS implementation within further departments/ faculties.

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