Unibg International -ECTS Guide (edition 2014/15) : ECTS description
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ECTS description


What is a credit system?

A credit system is a systematic way of describing an educational programme by attaching credits to its components. The definition of credits in higher education systems may be based on different parameters, such as student workload, learning outcomes and contact hours.

What is ECTS?

The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System is a learner-centred system based on the transparency of learning outcomes and learning precesses. It aims to facilitate plannincg, delivery, evaluation, recognition and validation of qualifications and units of learning as well as student mobility. ECTS is widely used in formal higher education and can be applied to other lifelong learning activities.

How did ECTS develop?

ECTS was introduced in 1989, within the framework of Erasmus. 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 recognition of periods 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.

Why introduce ECTS?

ECTS makes study programmes easy to read and compare for all students, local and foreign. ECTS facilitates mobility and academic recognition. ECTS helps universities to organise and revise their study programmes. ECTS can be used across a variety of programmes and modes of delivery. ECTS makes European higher education more attractive for students from other continents.

What are the key features of ECTS?

  • ECTS is based on the principle that 60 credits measure the workload of a full-time student during one academic year. The student workload of a full-time study programme in Europe ranges in most cases to around 1,500-1,800 for an academic year, whereby one credit corresponds to 25 to 30 working hours.
  • Student workload indicates the time students tipically need to complete all learning activities (such as lectures, seminars, projects, practical work, self-study and examinations) required to achieve the expected learning outcomes.
  • Credits are awarded to individual students (full-time or part-time) after completion of the learning activities required by a formal programme of study or by a single educational component and the successful assessment of the achieved learning outcomes. Learning outcomes are sets of competences, expressing what the student will know, understand or be able to do after vompletion of a process of learning, long or short.
  • 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 to achieve its specific objectives or learning outcomes in relation to the total quantity of work necessary to complete a full year of study successfully.
  • The performance of the student is documented by a local/national grade. It is good practice to add an ECTS grade, in particular in case of credit transfer. 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:
    1. best 10%
    2. next 25%
    3. next 30%
    4. next 25%
    5. 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". The inclusion of failure rates in the Transcript of Records is optional.

The conversion tables for the University of Bergamo may be accessed at: www.unibg.it/ects > Degree programmes > Assessment.

What are the key documents of ECTS?

  • The Course Catalogue is the regular guide for all students attending the institution. All information should be detailed, user-friendly and up-to-date. It is published on the Institution's website [www.unibg.it/ects] in the local language and in English. It should include information on the Institution, programmes of study and general information for students.
  • The Student Application Form [www.unibg.it/incoming > Admission and Registration] contains all the essential information about a mobile student that a prospective host institution needs.
  • The ECTS Learning Agreement [www.unibg.it/incoming > Admission and Registration] contains the list of courses to be taken with the ECTS credits which will be awarded for each course. This list must be agreed by the student and the responsible academic body of the institution concerned. In the case of credit transfer, the Learning Agreement has to be agreed by the student and the two institutions concerned before the student's departure and updated immediately when changes occur.
  • The Transcript of Records [www.unibg.it/incoming > Admission and Registration] documents the performance of a student by showing the list of courses taken, the ECTS credits gained, local or national credits, if any, local grades and possibly ECTS grades awarded. In the 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 at the end of their period of study.