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ECTS: a common language for academic recognition

To help students make the most from their study abroad, the European Commission has developed a European Credit Transfer System, which measures and compares learning achievements, and which ensures a smooth transfer of credits from one institution to another.

What does ECTS offer to the student?

  • ECTS guarantees academic recognition of studies abroad.
  • ECTS enables access to regular courses alongside local students, with the benefit of full participation in the academic life of the host institution. This characteristic of ECTS distinguishes it from many other student mobility programmes.
  • ECTS enables further studies abroad. A student may prefer not to return to the home institution after the study abroad, but to stay at the host institution - possibly to gain a degree - or to move to a third institution. It is up to the institutions themselves to decide whether or not this is acceptable and what conditions the student must meet in order to get a diploma or transfer registration.

What are ECTS credits?
ECTS credits are values allocated to course units to describe the student workload required to complete them. They reflect the quantity of work each course requires in relation to the total quantity of work required to complete a full year of academic study at the institution, that is lectures, practical training, seminars, independent learning - in the laboratory, library or at home - and examinations or other assessment activities.


How many credits?
In the ECTS system, 60 credits represent one year of study (in blocks of workload). Normally 30 credits are given for six months (a semester) and 15 credits for a block (a quarter). ECTS credits are also allocated to internships, minors and to thesis preparation when these activities are part of the regular curriculum at both the home and host institutions. ECTS credits are allocated to courses and are awarded to students who successfully complete those courses by passing the examinations or other assessments.

What is the ECTS grading scale?
Examination and assessment results are usually expressed in grades. There are many different grading systems in Europe. To help institutions translate the grades awarded by host institutions, the ECTS grading scale has been developed in the European Union. ECTS provides additional information on the student's performance to that provided by the institution's grade, but does not replace the local grade. Higher education institutions make their own decisions on how to apply the ECTS grading scale in their own system. Please note that the ECTS grades are not the same as the grades used in the USA.

 ECTS Grade  Definition


 EXCELLENT - outstanding performance with only minor errors


 VERY GOOD - above the average standard but with some errors


 GOOD - generally sound work with a number of notable errors


 SATISFACTORY - fair but with significant shortcomings


 SUFFICIENT - performance meets the minimum criteria


 FAIL - some more work required before the credit can be awarded


 FAIL - considerable further work is required

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