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ECTS and the European Higher Education Area (EHEA)


In 1999 the Bologna Declaration included ECTS among the main objectives to be achieved by countries participating in the Bologna Process. Through the reforms implemented in the course of the Process, ECTS has become a key tool of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).

ECTS is adopted as the national credit system in most countries of the EHEA. In other regions of the world, it is increasingly used by institutions or interacts successfully with local credit systems[3] based on comparable criteria, thus playing a role in the growing global dimension of education.

Within the EHEA, ECTS increases the transparency and readability of the educational process and thus plays an effective role in stimulating change and modernisation, because its implementation encourages the paradigm shift from a teacher-centred to a learner-centred approach, which is, under the term of Student-Centred Learning (SCL), recognised as an underlying principle of the EHEA.

Nota Bene

Student-Centred Learning (SCL)

Student-Centred Learning (SCL) is a process of qualitative transformation for students and other learners in a learning environment, aimed at enhancing their autonomy and critical ability through an outcome-based approach.

The SCL concept can be summarised into the following elements:

  • Reliance on active rather than passive learning;
  • Emphasis on critical and analytical learning and understanding;
  • Increased responsibility and accountability on the part of the student;
  • Increased autonomy of the student;
  • A reflective approach to the learning and teaching process on the part of both the student and the teacher.

By using learning outcomes and workload in curriculum design and delivery, ECTS places the student at the centre of the educational process. Moreover, using credits makes it easier to create and document flexible learning pathways, thus allowing students greater autonomy and responsibility.

Due to its outcome-based approach, the use of ECTS serves other purposes of the EHEA:

  • It facilitates the recognition of prior learning and experience and encourages a higher level of completion and wider participation in lifelong learning;
  • It establishes a closer link between educational programmes and societal requirements and enhances interaction with all stakeholders, including the world of work and wider society;
  • It facilitates mobility within an institution or country, from institution to institution, from country to country, and between different educational sectors and contexts of learning (i.e. formal, non-formal, informal and work-based learning), through recognition and credit transfer.

In national legislation the use of ECTS can be a requirement for accreditation of higher education programmes or qualifications.



3. ECTS has inspired the development of credit systems in other regions, for example in Southeast-Asia, Latin America and most recently in Africa.