What is ECTS?

2 MIN READ Shatarupa Datta  |   2 MINS READ March 4, 2021

The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) is a tool of the European Higher Education Area for making studies and courses more transparent. It helps students to move between countries and to have their academic qualifications and study periods abroad recognised. 


ECTS allows credits taken at one higher education institution to be counted towards a qualification studied for at another. ECTS credits represent learning based on defined learning outcomes and their associated workload. 


ECTS enhances the flexibility of study programmes for students. It also supports the planning, delivery and evaluation of higher education programmes. It is a central tool in the Bologna Process, which aims to make national education systems more comparable internationally.

ECTS has been adopted by most of the countries in the European Higher Education Area as the national credit system and is increasingly used elsewhere. 

ECTS is also used for recognising not just study exchange experiences, but full-time Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctorate (PhD) degrees as well.

The benefits for ECTS for students include:

  • Simplified academic paperwork 
  • Easier to estimate the complexity of a study class, seminar, internship, thesis, etc., based on the number of credits it offers upon completion 
  • Less differentiation between local and international students in universities 
  • Even if you drop out of a programme, ECTS credits help you prove your academic achievements, so you don't have to take the same courses all over again 
  • Your degree will have the same number of credits, no matter what academic discipline you pursue. 

By completing a course, seminar, or module, you get awarded ECTS credit points. Every ECTS credit point represents the amount of workload you accomplished in that period of time.

Some examples of ECTS credits assigned per degree type are:

  • 1 full year of academic studies:  60 ECTS credits 
  • 3-year Bachelor’s programme: 180 ECTS credits
  • 4-year Bachelor's programme: 240 ECTS credits
  • 1 or 2-year Master’s programme: 90 or 120 ECTS credits 

 
The same student can, therefore, achieve different grades within the same performance indicator, depending also on the class, in terms of how competitive it is. However, the ECTS grading systems are way more transparent than many national grading systems and it helps compare your academic performance with that of other students in Europe.
 

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