Introduction to Erasmus and ECTS


Development of education in the uniting Europe has been endorsed for several years by an educational programme of the European Union - SOCRATES. Among priorities of the programme is the promotion of International co-operation between educational institutions of the Member States. Also countries of Central and Eastern Europe, participating for some time in the TEMPUS programme, have been invited to join SOCRATES, especially in the area of higher learning known as ERASMUS, a continuation of a programme with the same name carried out by the European Community in the years 1987-1994.

In the framework of ERASMUS some financial support is offered to promote activities that contribute to the development of co-operation between universities from the Member States, EFTA countries and the associated states. Within this co-operation major importance has been attached to student mobility, which will flourish only when the schools involved can develop some means to recognise study abroad. In order to meet this objective, the

European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)* was developed, first as a pilot scheme within ERASMUS, and more recently as an approved set of common procedures to guarantee academic recognition of study periods abroad.

ECTS provides a simple and transparent way of measuring and comparing study programmes and learning achievements, and transferring them from one institution to another. This is achieved through the use of a common ECTS credit unit and a common ECTS grading scale. The use of ECTS is voluntary and is based on mutual trust and confidence in the academic standards of partner institutions. Each university selects its own partners.

* A detailed description of the system can be found in the publication of the European Commission: European Credit Transfer System: User's Guide, Brussels, 1998.