ECTS (European Credit Transfert System)


The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System is a project developed by the European Community to set up common procedures with a view to ensuring the academic recognition of studies abroad and thus facilitate student mobility. It provides the means to assess and compare study levels and to transfer the credits from one university or any other higher education institution to another.

Il donne les moyens d'évaluer et de comparer les niveaux d'étude et de transférer les acquis d'une université, d'une haute école à l'autre.

History of the European Credit Transfer System

  • The starting point was the desire by the European Community to create a Community Action Programme in the field of education with a view to developing a Europe of Knowledge. ECTS was defined within the framework of the Socrates programme and its higher-education component, Erasmus.
  • Socrates advocates European cooperation in all areas of education, with mobility being one of the key elements. Students are encouraged to complete part of their studies abroad and Erasmus enables them to spend a period ranging between 3 and 12 months at a higher education institution in another participating country. However, the educational systems and practices vary greatly from one European country to the next.
  • It is in order to resolve this problem that the European Credit Transfer System was originally set up to ensure that periods of study abroad are recognized by the students' home institutions, while providing the latter with the means of comparing and 'translating' study results that are based on parameters that vary greatly from one institution to another.
  • Moreover, ECTS facilitates cooperation between institutions that the European Commission is trying to promote, thanks to a total transparency of the contents of courses offered by each participating institution.

How does ECTS work?

Pour les établissements, quatre conditions sont requises pour participer à ECTS.

The institutions must comply with the following four conditions in order to participate in ECTS.

  • the compilation of an Information Package/Course Catalogue that must be accessible to everyone;
  • the creation of a Learning Agreement between the student's home and host institutions;
  • allocation of ECTS credits
  • a Transcript of Records

ECTS Credits

Credits are awarded to course units in accordance with their relative importance.

  • One year of study equals 60 credits.
  • These credits represent the workload of a full-time student: lectures, assignments, seminars, independent study, examinations or other ways of assessment.
  • Credits are allocated to all educational components that are part of a study programme, such as work placements or optional courses.
  • For those components that are not part of the study programme no credits shall be allocated; however, the courses may be mentioned in the transcription record.

The credits in ECTS can only be allocated after the student has completed the work required and achieved the appropriate assessment of the learning outcomes.

The institutions retain full decision-making powers over their own study programmes and ways of assessment ; ECTS is not intended to change them but rather to provide the means of 'reading' and 'comparing' them.

The ECTS Grading Scale

The aim of the grading scale is to help the institutions to interpret the grades obtained by the ECTS students in the welcoming institutions.

It is not aimed to replace the local grade systems, the institutions are free to use it or not.

ECTS mark
excellent result, with only minor shortcomings
above-average result, but with a number of shortcomings
good performance on the whole, in spite of a number of major shortcomings
fair result, but with significant shortcomings
the minimum requirements are met
further work is required before the credits relating to the course can be awarded
considerable further work is required

The student in ECTS

  • In order to benefit from ECTS the student must be an EU citizen or a national of one of the EFTA member countries (or recognized by one of these states as having the official status of a refugee or permanent resident).
  • The study period spent abroad may not be less than three months or more than one year
  • Students must comply with the legal and institutional rules of the host country.
  • Prior to their departure, students must, in consultation with the lecturers in the home and host institutions, draw up their intended study programme and follow it in the way it has been defined. Changes may only be effected following the approval of the same lecturers.
  • Students receive ECTS credits for the entire academic workload that they have successfully completed within the framework of their programmes.
  • Most ECTS students:
    • study at on single host institution in one single EU Member-State for a fixed period, after which they return to their home institutions.
    • However, some may decide to remain in the host institution and obtain a degree there.
    • Others may go on to a third institution to continue their studies.
  • The student selected to participate in an ECTS programme may benefit from an Erasmus mobility grant.
  • Students are exempt from paying school fees in the host institution but may nevertheless be required to continue to pay school fees in the home institutions during their stay abroad.

To learn more about ECTS, click on the European flag: