Higher Education and Research


European Credit Transfer System – ECTS

One of the initial action lines of the Bologna Process was the introduction of a credit system compatible with ECTS (European Credit Transfer System).

The Bologna Declaration states:

“… Establishment of a system of credits - such as in the ECTS system – as a proper means of promoting the most widespread student mobility. Credits could also be acquired in non-higher education contexts, including lifelong learning, provided they are recognised by receiving Universities concerned. …”

The Prague Communiqué elaborates the topic and asks for ECTS to be used for credit accumulation as well as for credit transfer:

“… Ministers emphasized that for greater flexibility in learning and qualification processes the adoption of common cornerstones of qualifications, supported by a credit system such as the ECTS or one that is ECTS-compatible, providing both transferability and accumulation functions, is necessary. Together with mutually recognized quality assurance systems such arrangements will facilitate students' access to the European labour market and enhance the compatibility, attractiveness and competitiveness of European higher education. The generalized use of such a credit system and of the Diploma Supplement will foster progress in this direction. …”

The Berlin Communiqué concludes:

“ … Ministers stress the important role played by the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) in facilitating student mobility and international curriculum development. They note that ECTS is increasingly becoming a generalised basis for the national credit systems. They encourage further progress with the goal that the ECTS becomes not only a transfer but also an accumulation system, to be applied consistently as it develops within the emerging European Higher Education Area. … “

It should be noted that while the Bologna Declaration implies that the ECTS is one of several possible credit transfer systems, no other systems have so far emerged at the European level. The discussion of credit transfer therefore focuses on the ECTS (a short introduction to the ECTS can be found here).

The London Communique notes that there has been progress in the implementation of the ECTS and stresses that :

‘Efforts should concentrate in future on removing barriers to access and progression between cycles and on proper implementation of ECTS based on learning outcomes and student workload’.

Please also check also the following:

Related issues: recognition and introduction of easily readable and comparable degrees, two-cycle system, quality assurance, lifelong learning, mobility.