ECTS credits: does practice match theory?

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1 Welcome to session 4.03 ECTS credits: does practice match theory? 18 September 2010

2 Chair: Nina Kowalewska, Swedish National Agency for Higher Education Speakers: Janerik Lundquist, Linköping University, Sweden Margit Schatzman, Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc., USA

3 Outline of the session 1. Introduction 2. How institutions are actually using ECTS credits 3. ECTS credits: Good and bad practice 4. How to work effectively with the reality of ECTS credits (for recognition) 5. ECTS grades- a controversial issue 6. Summary and questions

4 ECTS: From Erasmus to Bologna ECTS in Erasmus: Recognition system within the exchange programme Key elements: total workload, learning outcomes, ECTS credits & grading scale Key documents: Information package, application, learning agreement & transcript

5 From Erasmus to Bologna Bologna process: System of credits as one of the first Bologna objectives Credit accumulation towards a qualification Key element in national qualification frameworks Long Life Learning validation tool

6 ECTS credits short definitions Based on total workload needed for achieving learning outcomes Total number of credits achieved during a fulltime academic year has to be 60, workload hrs or one credit equal to hrs

7 ECTS credits are used in: Exchange programmes and other transfer of credits For credit accumulation towards a qualification National Qualification Frameworks Diploma Supplement And start to be accepted internationally outside Europe!

8 Based on: ECTS Users Guide, European Commission 1998 ECTS Users Guide, European Commission 2004 ECTS Users Guide European Commission

9

10 How institutions are actually using ECTS credits Survey of credential evaluators & admissions professionals Historical perspective

11 How institutions are actually using ECTS credits Format: Diploma Supplement Use of ECTS Examples

12 Diploma Supplement Are you seeing Diploma Supplements? YES! but not universally from any of my countries. and it is difficult to get documents out of many applications other than the DS.

13 Diploma Supplement From which countries are you seeing Diploma Supplements? Baltic Belgium Cyprus England France Georgia Germany Iceland India (mostly engineering programs) Italy Latvia Lithuania, Netherlands Norway Poland Romania Serbia Turkey

14 Diploma Supplement Albania: Based on information on university and ministry websites, Albania appears to be adopting the Bologna approach. However, to date, I have not seen any diploma supplement style documents or ECTS credits on grade reports. I expect they will be issued in the future, though. Russia: I mostly deal with Russian credentials and the number of Diploma Supplements that we see from there have been negligibly few. As the implementation and use of the DS varies from country to country, there is quite some variation: DS s are most common with the more recent qualifications, and they are more common from the Nordic and Baltic countries, and e.g. Poland, Hungary and Slovenia, than from some other countries.

15 Diploma Supplement Are the Diploma Supplements in the proscribed DS format? Everything that I've seen lately has been A-1: in the correct format and explained clearly. It seems like less developed countries are adopting them faster than established western European ones. For the most part, but variations are not uncommon. Yes, mostly Yes There may be minor variations, but a more significant variation from the DS format is clearly an exception.

16 ECTS us e Are ECTS being used on grade reports or Diploma Supplements? YES! Increasingly so in Poland and Italy, but less frequently in Turkey and Germany. Italy and Spain use ECTS on their traditional transcripts DS's are very rare from these two countries. Mostly yes, but in some of the Polish files ECTS credits are not applied consistenly, French files showing ECTS credits, but format is different, the same for India.

17 ECTS us e Are the ECTS definitions consistent between different institutions within the country? No inconsistencies come to mind. The Netherlands seems to be the most consistent across the board. In English files, we can see both: CATS and ECTS credits. In Indian files: both marks and credits. Poland, Serbia Georgia - only credits.

18 ECTS us e Are other credit systems being used, either alone or in conjunction with ECTS? In Poland, hours are often listed along with ECTS credits, when diploma supplements are issued. CATS credits in England. Credits are mixed only when a program was started before the implementation of Bologna.

19 ECTS some experiences In several Polish cases, ECTS credits were listed for only a portion of the program, usually the later part. The conversion from hours to ECTS was not clear - I could not figure out how they determined ECTS value from the hours of study. As such, I used hours for the credit conversion and not the ECTS. On many Italian transcripts, the credits listed are really ECTS, as evident from the standard conversion (180 credits for 3-year programs), but they are not labeled as ECTS credits.

20 ECTS some experiences a Dutch case where a DS was used for an old 4-year Doctoraal program. The DS provided pre-printed information for the BMD programs, describing some master's degrees as 2-year programs after a 3-year bachelor. This individual had completed a four-year pre-bologna Doctoraal. He refused to provide a copy of his doctoraal examen in Dutch, claiming that his DS and a "master's degree certificate" was the only document he ever received from the university in 2000 before Bologna was even implemented. I don't think that non-bologna compliant degree information was intended to be presented on pre-printed DS paper. We've even heard from our colleagues in Austria that at the University of X, the number of credits awarded per course is up to individual professors, so the same course may carry a different credit load depending on who's teaching it! This is not indicated on the transcript. This all makes it difficult to establish consistent transfer credit policies, and seems to sabotage the stated Bologna objective of "portability" and student mobility.

21 ECTS credits Good and bad practice

22 ECTS credits A question of mutual trust!!! We expect every institution using ECTS credits to do it in a correct way

23 Bad practice Transform contact hours into ECTS credits by an arithmetic operation

24 Bad practice Transform contact hours into ECTS credits by an arithmetic operation Multiply credit points by 1.5

25 Bad practice Transform contact hours into ECTS credits by an arithmetic operation Multiply credit points by 1.5 Issue ECTS credits when the academic year contains substantially less than 40 weeks

26 Bad practice Transform contact hours into ECTS credits by an arithmetic operation Multiply credit points by 1.5 Issue ECTS credits when the academic year contains substantially less than 40 weeks ECTS credits do not mirror real workload Consequences?

27 Good practice Involvement of colleagues and students in the process to confirm ECTS credits for each course module

28 Good practice Involvement of colleagues and students in the process to confirm ECTS credits for each course module Learning outcomes Student workload ECTS credits

29 Good practice Involvement of colleagues and students in the process to confirm ECTS credits for each course module Learning outcomes Student workload ECTS credits Continuous revision

30 How to work effectively with the reality of ECTS credits (for recognition) Make sure the students know that they need to also provide the native diploma in the original language.

31 How to work effectively with the reality of ECTS credits (for recognition) Promote best practices at own institution Expect best practices from colleagues: request appropriate documents & ask questions Understand potential & limitations Bologna Process is a work in progress

32 What advice or requests would you give to those who are responsible for issuing documents that you evaluate? The decision on recognition is based on studying the diploma and transcript produced by the applicant and on the information on the higher education system of the country. Our office has often found the DS a useful source of information (Sub-sections 5.1. and 5.2. of the DS) for decisions on professional recognition. The DS thus offers a useful tool for obtaining information on foreign qualifications, but other information sources are always used, too. The ENIC/NARIC and ENQA joint project on the Diploma Supplement in 2008 e.g. gathered best practises into a user-friendly table. The project studied Diploma Supplements and produced information, best-practises and tools to support HEI s around Europe and to help increase the usability of the DS for study and labourmarket purposes. An important focus in the project was quality of the documents. The project results form a good tool to all those working with the DS.

33 ECTS grades- a controversial issue Purpose of ECTS grades Historical perspective A controversial issue maybe not

34 ECTS grades Before 2009: Grading table with seven steps, A-E + two fail Positive grades based on ranking of students following normal distribution in large reference groups of students

35 ECTS grading system Latest developments: National grades accompanied by a table with grade distribution for each grade Major problem: Presentation of grades in Diploma Supplement

36 Summary

37 Questions For a copy of this presentation please visit or To contact presenters: revised: 6 September 2010

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