European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)

What is it all about?

The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) is a tool that helps to design, describe and implement study programmes and award qualifications in higher education. The use of ECTS, together with results-based qualification frameworks, improves the transparency of study programs and qualifications and facilitates their recognition

Why is it necessary?

By ensuring the comparability of higher education in Europe, ECTS makes teaching and learning in higher education more transparent and facilitates the recognition of studies. It is a support tool for the design of study programmes that contributes to quality assurance and enables learning experiences to be transferred between institutions, student mobility to be enhanced and degree pathways to be more flexible.

ECTS is closely related to the modernisation of higher education in Europe and is a central tool within the Bologna Process to make national systems more compatible.

How does it work?

Participating institutions publish their course catalogs on the Internet; these include detailed descriptions of syllabuses, course units, university regulations, and student services.

Course unit descriptions include the “learning outcomes” (i.e., the knowledge students are expected to obtain and the skills they are expected to acquire) and the workload (the time students need to work to achieve these outcomes). Learning outcomes are expressed in credits. A student’s workload varies between 1500 and 1800 hours per academic year, and one credit generally corresponds to 25-30 hours of work.