Work programme of the Bologna Follow-Up Group 2001-2003

EUA Conference on Credit Transfer and Accumulation – the Challenge for Institutions and Students

Bologna Seminar Zürich, Switzerland 11/10/2002 - 12/10/2002

Credit Transfer and Accumulation – the Challenge for Institutions and Students, an EUA/Swiss Confederation Conference in ETH Zürich, 11/12 October 2002.

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Over the last decade the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) has been successfully introduced as a transfer system in the Socrates ERASMUS programme.  The Zurich Conference demonstrated widespread support for the need to accelerate the development of ECTS as an accumulation system in the context of the Bologna Process.

“ECTS is changing from being a transfer to being also an accumulation system.  At the same time it is changing from being a system for tens of thousands of students to one which could affect tens of millions.  Europe’s universities are ready to take up the challenge”, said EUA Board member Roderick Floud, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of London Metropolitan University.

Quam ob rem circumspecta cautela observatum est deinceps et cum edita montium petere coeperint grassatores, loci iniquitati milites cedunt. ubi autem in planitie potuerint reperiri, quod contingit adsidue, nec exsertare lacertos nec

EUA conclusions and recommendations for Action

In Zürich, the 330 participants from European universities, student bodies, national ministries and international organisations agreed on a number of key features of credit transfer and accumulation and on the importance of introducing widely the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) as the only tried and tested credit system in Europe. At the same time, a number of open issues for further reflection were identified as we move forward towards Graz and Berlin.

Key figures

ECTS is a student-centred system based on the student workload required to achieve the objectives of a programme. These objectives are preferably specified in terms of learning outcomes.

ECTS is based on the convention that 60 credits measure the notional workload of an average full time student during one academic year. This includes time spent attending lectures, seminars, project and laboratory work, independent study, preparing for and taking examinations, etc.

Credits are allocated to all educational and training components of a study programme (such as modules, courses, placements, dissertation work, etc.). They reflect the quantity of work each component requires in relation to the total quantity of work necessary to complete a full year of study in the programme considered.

Credits can be obtained only after completion of the work required and appropriate assessment of the learning outcomes achieved.

ECTS presupposes the use of a minimum number of essential tools. First and foremost, this means respect for the Learning Agreement. For student mobility and credit transfer this has to be concluded, before departure, between the student and the responsible academic bodies of the two institutions concerned. The use of Learning Agreements should also be extended to non- mobile home students for registering study options and programmes.

As an accumulation system, ECTS credits are used to describe entire study programmes on the basis of their official length. There is broad agreement that first cycle degrees lasting three to four years require 180-240 credit points.

Credits are not automatically interchangeable from one context to another. They can only be used to obtain a recognised qualification when they constitute an approved part of a study programme.

The Diploma Supplement and ECTS are complementary tools for enhancing transparency and facilitating recognition.


The Conference demonstrated that Europe’s universities recognise the importance of credit transfer and accumulation for the future development of the EHEA and accept their own responsibilities in this process. This means that on the basis of the key features agreed in Zürich, institutions need to be able to apply ECTS in a transparent but flexible way, taking into account their own specific missions and priorities.

Source: EUA Conclusions and Recommendations for Action
Credit Transfer and Accumulation – the Challenge for Institutions and Students
EUA/Swiss Confederation Conference ETH Zürich, 11/12 October 2002
EUA Recommandations on ECTS - Zürich 2002

Published: 11/10/2002 - Last modified: 20/10/2016
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