European Credit Transfer System

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The European system for the transfer and accumulation of academic achievements ( often abbreviated to ECTS after the English term European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System ) is an instrument that serves to structure university studies and makes the weighting of its components transparent. This is intended to help secure and continuously optimize the quality of higher education . The ECTS is used in the European Higher Education Area , which includes both the countries of the European Union and numerous non-EU countries, for example Norway, Switzerland and Israel. ECTS is a central element of the so-called Bologna Process , which aims to coordinate the national higher education systems with one another, among other things by structuring the courses of study across Europe into a Bachelor's phase (3-4 years) and a Master's phase (another 1- 2 years), which has replaced the Magister and Diploma courses (4–5 years) in the German-speaking area .

Established in 1989 as a pilot project as part of the Erasmus program , the ECTS, which has meanwhile been introduced in almost all study programs throughout Europe with the Bologna Process, is intended to ensure that the performance achieved by students at universities in the European higher education area is comparable and when changing from one university to another, even across national borders, are creditable. This is made possible by the ECTS credits, so-called credit points, which state the required scope of learning (based on defined learning objectives) and the associated workload (measured in hours).

The ECTS is also intended to create transparency in addition to establishing the comparability of study programs and promoting student mobility (change of training facility in Germany and abroad): Students can use transcripts of records to provide detailed evidence of their academic performance in the application process; For the first time, employers receive precise information about the knowledge imparted during the course. The performance overviews not only provide information about the subjects and the final grades achieved, but also about every step of the course, which is divided into modules (module overview). For example, performance records with ECTS points, which express the proportions of certain subject areas in numbers throughout the course of the course, may suggest a shortened familiarization period in those subject areas that received high points during the course and thus formed a large part of the course.

Basics of the ECTS

The following information relates on the one hand to the so-called ECTS credits , which are awarded according to the uniform ECTS standard for Europe and the average workload required for academic success (workload, i.e. lessons with preparation and follow-up, self-study and exam preparation) in Take the numbers, on the other hand on the ECTS grading tables, which should increase the transparency of the grading. The ECTS grades introduced in 2004 have not been recommended since the 2009 ECTS guidelines.

ECTS points (credits)

The ECTS points, usually referred to as credits (LP), credit points (CP), credit points (CP) or credits in German universities , are a numerical value that indicates the workload required in the course in the study regulations and module manuals . For a successfully completed module , the university awards the number of points given in the module description. The students collect credit points in this way until the required total number of points for their degree program is achieved; only then can the course be considered successfully completed. One ECTS credit point corresponds to 25 to 30 working hours. In full-time studies, it is assumed that 60 credit points are collected per academic year, which corresponds to an effort of 1500 to 1800 hours. In Germany, the bachelor's and master's degree programs with a total of 300 ECTS points thus cover up to 9,000 hours. In full-time study, this means around 45 to 46 weeks of 35 to 40 hours of study each year. Mathematically, there are six to seven study-free weeks per year. These figures do not take into account the administrative and organizational effort of the course, which is comparatively low (matriculation at the beginning of the course, re-registration for each semester, online course attendance, online registration for the exams).

Until the introduction of the ECTS, study regulations only contained information on the scope of the lessons to be attended (in hours per week in the semester ). It was not explicitly stated how much preparation and follow-up time was associated with a course, even if a similar learning effort was to be assumed in a master’s or diploma course. This was only put into a readable value with the introduction of the credit point system. According to this, the effort to be made for a seminar that is provided with two credit points is up to 60 hours in total, while a seminar that is provided with six points, for example, requires three times the effort, i.e. up to 180 hours.

The ECTS procedure is also intended to facilitate the recognition of academic achievements at the new place of study, for example when changing study locations (in Germany as well as abroad).

The ECTS points can also be used to calculate the average grade of all completed examinations, i.e. H. when calculating a student's final bachelor's or master's grade. A model common at many universities provides that the grade achieved in a module is multiplied by the ECTS points of the module so that when calculating the average or final grade, for example, the grade 2.0 from a module with twelve points gives more weight has the same grade from a five-point module. Depending on the examination regulations and university, the share of a module in the average or final grade can also be carried out independently of ECTS, in that individual module grades are weighted once, while others are weighted twice or more than once. In this context, the basic modules of the introductory phase of the Bachelor's degree are often given less weight than the advanced or specialization modules of the 2nd / 3rd. Academic year.

ECTS grading tables

In order to make the European grading systems more transparent, according to the current ECTS guidelines, grading tables should provide information about the percentage of students who have received a certain grade. The tables can be printed on the transcript of records attached to the diploma.

The universities must carry out the following procedural steps for the creation of these statistical distribution tables: 1. Determination of a reference group (e.g. the students from the entire university, the department or degree program), 2. Collecting the grades over a period of time, 3. Calculating the grade distribution in percentages, 4. Insertion of the classification tables in the relevant documents.

On the basis of the classification tables, for example when changing universities, a “fair” grade conversion should be made possible, since one's own percentages can be compared with those of other universities or institutions. So far, however, only a few universities have created or used such ECTS grading tables.

ECTS grades

Until 2009, the EU Commission recommended the conversion of national grades into relative ECTS grades; the use of ECTS grades is no longer supported. These differ fundamentally from traditional school grades in that they rank the students who successfully take part in an examination (the best, the second best, the third best, etc.) instead of assessing the absolute quality of the individual's performance. Adequate statistical data on student performance is a prerequisite for using the ECTS grading system; the individual is always graded in comparison to his fellow students.

This is how it works: First, the examined students are divided into two groups, one that has passed and one that has not passed. This happens on the basis of a predetermined minimum number of points. If a student has only a small number of points missing to pass, the grade FX is awarded instead of the grade F (failed). The group that passes is ranked based on their score and assigned to different grade groups, with A, the top grade, receiving the top 10 percent of the students. The next 25 percent receive a grade B etc.

grade Passed (%)
A. 10
B. 25th
C. 30th
D. 25th
E. 10

One advantage of the ECTS grades can be that they avoid the problem of “ grade inflation ”, since quality levels within a group of graduates are determined mathematically as a percentage and no longer by a decision of the examiner, which is based on experience and sometimes perceived as subjective or unfair for example the line between good and satisfactory or between satisfactory and sufficient can be seen.

A disadvantage is the non-comparability of examinations in different places or at different times. Objectively good performance can be devalued if there is strong competition, and objectively poor performance can be upgraded if there is weak competition. This means that if very many, for example 25 percent of the results are very good, 15 percent of them slip into the second-best category (grade B), and if at another university only very few, for example 5 percent, of the candidates achieve very good results in a similar examination some of the good candidates slip up to category A. Another disadvantage is that the relative grading of the ECTS grading system is only possible for large groups; It is not applicable to individual examinations and small or very small groups.

Conversion systems for grades acquired outside the ECTS area

North America

In Canada and the USA there are no legally uniform evaluation systems that ensure the comparability and transferability of acquired credits . The universities are autonomous in this regard. The importance of academic performance is related to university rankings , for example the internationally recognized QS World University Ranking , which seeks to provide information about the performance of universities, their courses and, derived from this, the skills of the graduates there. The system should enable universities to establish comparability and thus creditability. It is also used by employers to assess an applicant's university degree and thus their performance.

In addition, there is a largely uniform course system with number ranges ( course codes ), which can be used to measure the degree of difficulty and thus also the workload per credit . For example, there are 1000 to 3000 numbers for bachelor courses , 4000 to 6000 for master’s courses and 7000 and 8000 for PhD courses. The university autonomously determines which level is required in a course. For example, there are bachelor's programs that only require courses at levels 1000 to 3000, and those in which many courses at 4000 master's level have to be taken. There are also master’s courses that are only offered at the 4000 and 5000 levels, and others that require courses and a very high research quality thesis at the 7000, i.e. PhD level. For this reason, European universities award different numbers of ECTS credit points for each Canadian or US credit based on the course codes for the recognition of achievements made in North America .

The grading system may vary (slightly) between the Canadian provinces and the US states.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b European System for Transferring and Accumulating Study Achievements (ECTS). In:
  2. a b c ECTS guidelines. In:
  3. ↑ Credit points (ECTS points). ( Memento from September 16, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) In:
  4. Framework specifications for the introduction of credit point systems and the modularization of study programs (PDF; 46 kB) - Resolution of the Standing Conference of 10.10.2003 i. d. F. dated February 4, 2010
  5. European system for the transfer and accumulation of study achievements (ECTS). In: .
  6. Examination grades at universities in 1996, 1998 and 2000 according to selected study areas and subjects , work report of the Science Council, 2002 (PDF; 2.4 MB).
  7. Examination grades at universities in 2005 according to selected study areas and subjects , work report of the Science Council, 2007 (PDF; 2.5 MB).