The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) and the European Higher Education Area (Bologna Process)
- The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) is the credit system for higher education used in the European Higher Education Area, involving all countries engaged in the Bologna Process.
- ECTS is one of the cornerstones of the Bologna process. Most Bologna countries have adopted ECTS by law for their higher education systems.
- Bologna Process defined three cycles of higher education; bachelor, master and doctoral, with typical ECTS credit ranges:
- 180–240 credit points for the first cycle (the bachelor degree)
- 90–120 credit points for the second cycle (the master degree) with a minimum of 60 credit points.
- There is no credit range for the third cycle.
ECTS is based on a number of principles:
- ECTS is a student- centered system based on the student workload required to achieve the learning outcomes and competences to be acquired.
- Learning outcomes are attributed to individual educational components and to programs.
- Credits are allocated to all educational components of a study program (such as modules, courses, placements, dissertation work, etc.)
- 60 credit points measure the workload of a full-time student during one academic year.
- The student workload of a full-time study program ranges from 1500 to1800 hours per year.
- Thus one credit point stands for around 25 to 30 working hours.
• Credit points in ECTS can only be obtained after successful completion of the work required
and appropriate assessment of the learning outcomes achieved.
- The achievement of learning outcomes has to be assessed through procedures based on clear and transparent criteria.
Example of 2 institutions achieving comparable courses’ learning outcomes with the same total workload, and allocate the same number of ECTS credit points although the contact hours are very different.
(3 credits X 30 hours = 90 hours)
24 lecture hours
24 lecture hours
6 tutorial hours
36 tutorial hours
60 hours of private study
30 hours of private study.
 The Bologna Process is a European initiative to bring about transparency and compatibility across higher education in Europe.
 Student workload in ECTS consists of the estimated time a learner typically need to complete all learning activities such as lectures, seminars, projects, practical work, work placements, individual study required to achieve the defined learning outcomes in formal learning environments.
 Learning outcomes are statements of what a learner knows, understands and is able to do on completion of a learning process.