EUROPEAN CREDIT TRANSFER AND ACCUMULATION SYSTEM
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
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
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
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
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
- 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:
- best 10%
- next 25%
- next 30%
- next 25%
- 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 >
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
- The ECTS Learning Agreement
> 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
> 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