Leistungs bwz. Kreditsystem
The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) was developed at the forefront of Bologna Process in order to improve the mobility of students inside Europe. In the past, gaining competence through study abroad has often led to a longer period of study, largely because credits earned abroad couldn’t be easily measured or counted toward a degree at the home university.
Awarding credit points through a standardized system makes the transfer of ECTS credits earned at participating institutions transparent and easily measurable. This of course relies on shared information concerning study programs and credits as well as a mutual agreement between partner institutions and students. In order to achieve this, the ECTS system is comprised of a variety of elements.
In addition to quantitative information concerning corresponding course credit and ECTS credit points, the new system also makes qualitative assessment possible. Where assessment is concerned, it is possible to appraise the quality of academic achievements in spite of differing grading scales and grading practices in the places where the credits were earned.
This is made possible through evaluating individual results according to a standardized key as opposed to making a comparison to a comparison group. Systematically furnishing and updating information about respective study opportunities and the corresponding specifications (information package / course catalogue) as well and uniform standards pertaining to documentation (learning agreement) and the transfer of credits (transcript of records) serve to strengthen the quantitative and qualitative traceability and transparency, thus making the transfer much easier.
Meanwhile, ECTS points shall also be used within the scope of the Bologna Process for the accumulation of credits in examinations.
Through ECTS grades, the performance of a sufficiently large cohort of students can be assessed based upon their fellow students’ performance. To this end, institutions that are implementing structural reforms have concentrated their curricula into modules and have introduced a credit point system (e.g. Kreditpunkte = KP (s. University of Oldenburg)), Credit Points = CP (s. University of Bremen) or Leistungspunkte = LP (s. University of Potsdam).
Restructuring along the lines of such a credit point system, which is tied closely to modularization, will make an early performance assessment possible through course-related testing.
In order to be able to make international comparisons between completely different study programs, credit points will be set to correspond to a specific pre-determined workload. Accordingly, one credit point corresponds to an average labour input of up to 30 hours (for a comparison: one credit point (KP) equals 30 hours in Germany and 25 hours in Switzerland). One year of study shall consist of 60 credit points, i.e. a maximum of 30 per semester (for a comparison: this is calculated in Germany as 900 work hours and in Switzerland as 750 work hours). This means that the ratio of study to holiday periods for full time students will be 1800 hours study to 6 weeks holiday time.
The designer of the ECTS system intended the term ‘workload’ to be understood to mean the greatest reasonable work input and not the lowest, so as to avoid overburdening students. This is meant to include not only in class hours, but also time for preparation, completing assignments, exams, and for self guided study (such as reading and writing essays).
A BA degree requires 180-240 credit points, usually over three or four years; an MA requires an additional 60-120 credit points, usually over one or two years. The two combined should consist of about 300 credit points.
It must be established with some reservations that:
Neither the ECTS system nor the other credit point designations (LP, KP, CP) can be seen as an instrument to standardize offered courses or to guarantee their quality. The ECTS system doesn’t automatically ensure students’ mobility, as the mutual recognition of course achievements depends on course content and learning goals. These can vary a great deal, and individual institutions may attach additional criteria concerning he recognition of courses taken abroad.
Guidelines concerning the introduction of a credit point system and the modularisation of programmes of study.