European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)
The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System is a student-centered system based on the student workload required to achieve the objectives of a program, objectives preferably specified in terms of the learning outcomes and competencies to be acquired. ECTS was introduced in 1989. It is the only credit system that 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 levels. This is one of the key objectives of the Bologna Declaration of June 1999.
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. As the ECTS grade is a relative grade there is no fixed conversion into the German mark system. Therefore, the table below only serves as a non-binding general orientation:
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 passing grade as follows:
A best 10%
B next 25%
C next 30%
D next 25%
E 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.
Workload and Credits
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 program in Europe amounts in most cases to around 1500-1800 hours per year and in those cases one credit stands for around 25 to 30 working hours.
Credits in ECTS can only be obtained after successful completion of the work required and appropriate assessment of the learning outcomes achieved. Learning outcomes are sets of competencies, expressing what the student will know, understand or be able to do after completion of a process of learning, long or short.
Student workload in ECTS consists of the time required to complete all planned learning activities such as attending lectures, seminars, independent and private study, preparation of projects, and examinations.
Credits are allocated to all educational components of a study program (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.
For further information on the ECTS system, please consult the European Commission's website.