European Higher Education Area

Education Quality Accreditation Commission





ECTS credits, European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System, makes teaching and learning more transparent and facilitates the recognition of studies (formal and non-formal). The system is used across Europe for credit transfer (student mobility) and credit accumulation towards a degree. It also informs curriculum design and education quality assurance.


Institutions which apply ECTS publish their course catalogues on the web, including detailed descriptions of study programmes, units of learning, university regulations and student services. Course descriptions contain learning outcomes (what students are expected to know, understand and be able to do) and workload (the time students typically need to achieve the learning outcomes), expressed in terms of credits (and hours of study).


Credit transfer and accumulation are helped by the use of the ECTS key documents (course catalogue, learning agreement, and transcript of records) as well as the Diploma Supplement. ECTS can feed into recognition decisions about academic quality and education accreditation. These decisions, however, remain the responsibility of the competent authorities: professors involved in student exchange, university admission officers, recognition advisory centers, ministry officials or employers.


The EQF - European Qualifications Framework will make the current official validation (homologation) procedures unnecessary in most cases when the education quality and training is provided according to the ECTS guidelines.


Countries around Europe are increasingly emphasising the need to take account of the full range of an individual’s knowledge, skills and competences. Recognising all forms of learning is therefore a priority of EU action in education quality and accreditation. Learning takes place in different settings and contexts, formal and non-formal. Learning that is taking place in the formal education and training system is traditionally the most visible and the one likely to be recognized in the labor market and by society in general. In recent years, however, there has been a growing appreciation that learning in non-formal settings is seen as crucial for the realization of lifelong learning, thus requiring new strategies for identification and validation of these learning outcomes.


ECTS credits become the common language to attest education quality, academic recognition and accreditation.



The ECTS Credits


ECTS credits are based on the workload students need in order to achieve expected learning outcomes. Learning outcomes describe what a learner is expected to know, understand and be able to do after successful completion of a process of learning. They relate to level descriptors in national and European qualifications frameworks. Workload indicates the time students typically need to complete all learning activities (such as lectures, seminars, projects, practical work, self-study and examinations) required to achieve the expected learning outcomes.


1 ECTS ACADEMIC CREDIT = 25 to 30 hours of study work


60 ECTS credits are attached to the workload of a full-time year of formal learning (academic year) and the associated learning outcomes. In most cases, student workload ranges from 1.500 to 1.800 hours for an academic year, whereby one credit corresponds to 25 to 30 hours of study work.


The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) is a tool which enables students to collect credits for learning achieved through higher education. ECTS is a learner-centred system which aims to increase transparency of learning outcomes and learning processes. It aims to facilitate planning, delivery, evaluation, recognition and validation of qualifications and units of learning as well as student mobility, education quality and accreditation. ECTS is widely used in formal higher education and can be applied to other lifelong learning activities.


ECTS credits are allocated to entire qualifications or study programmes as well as to their educational components (such as modules, course units, dissertation work, work placements and laboratory work). The number of credits ascribed to each component is based on its weight in terms of the workload students need in order to achieve the learning outcomes.


Credits are awarded to individual students (full-time or part-time) after completion of the learning activities required by a programme of study or by a single educational component and the successful assessment of the achieved learning outcomes. Credits may be accumulated with a view to obtaining qualifications, as decided by the degree-awarding institution.


If students have achieved learning outcomes in other learning contexts or timeframes (formal, non-formal or informal), the associated credits may be awarded after successful assessment, validation or recognition of these learning outcomes. Credits awarded in one programme may be transferred into another programme, offered by the same or another institution.



Important Clarifications


The European Union does not have legal competences in matters of education. In other words, education regulations are set by each country Ministry of Education or designated organism.


The European Union defined the ECTS credits as a desirable mechanism to ensure student mobility and academic credit transfer among diverse educational curricula. Before the ECTS credits systems each country's education system was so different from the others that recognition and acceptance of study programs was a complex an difficult issue.


The ECTS credits became a system used by European universities to validate courses and quantify the accumulated student load towards completion of a degree program, as prescribed by the European Higher Education Area.


The ministries of education from the different European countries (including E.U., Turkey & Russia) agreed to sign the Bologna declaration in order to transform and merge their diverse educational models according to the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) guidelines. The goal of this declaration was to facilitate international student mobility, to adapt the universities curricula to actual social demands, and to improve education quality and competitiveness thought a better comprehension and transparency of what has beed studied in each country.


The Bologna declaration affects only formal education ruled by the Ministries of education from each country. The European Higher Education Area was created as a framework for educational reform and improvement.


Non formal education initiatives are not affected by the Bologna declaration, but from the legal framework of their respective countries. The European Higher Education Area has recognised the importance of non formal education initiatives and recommends to follow the ECTS credits guidelines to promote better understanding and acceptance of these initiatives.


Following the ECTS credits guidelines does not imply the automatic and obligatory acceptance of the credits from any third party institution or organisation. Each institution is free to accept and validate any ECTS credits obtained at other institutions, wether formal or non formal. Although, the fact that any program of education is expressed in the the ECTS format facilitates its comprehension and potential recognition.



The EQAC certification for issuing ECTS credits

The Education Quality Accrediting Commission may certify that any course, training or program of study follows the guidelines from the the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). In order to be able to issue ECTS credits, the educational institution must ensure that the required learning outcomes and hours of study have been met. See more...


Get the EQAC certification if you are interested in issuing ECTS credits.




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