The European Community encourages cooperation between educational establishments with the goals of improving the quality of education and benefiting both students and higher education establishments. The mobility of students is considered as an essential element of this cooperation.
The cooperation between European universities and business schools
THE ECTS: 3 BASIC ELEMENTS
The ECTS system is based on 3 elements:
- Information on study programs and student results
- Mutual agreement (between the partner establishments and the student)
- The use of ECTS credits
These three elements are rendered operational by an information file, a study contract and a grade sheet.
A QUALITY SYSTEM IMPLEMENTED BY THE ESTABLISHMENTS THEMSELVES
The essential aspect of ECTS is that it is implemented by the students, the teachers and the establishments themselves – it is a requirement that studies abroad are recognised as an integral part of the study program.
ECTS determines neither the content, nor the structure, nor the equivalence of study programs. It is for the educational establishments themselves to settle the quality questions at the moment of establishing, via bilateral or multilateral agreements, the bases of cooperation. The ECTS methodology gives interested parties the necessary tools to establish transparency/clarity and to facilitate academic recognition.
COUNT UP STUDY ABROAD PERIODS AS PART OF THE CURRICULUM
Total academic recognition is the key to the success of exchange programs such as Erasmus and Socrates. Total academic recognition implies that the study period abroad (including exams and other forms of evaluation) effectively replaces a comparable study period (including exams and other forms of evaluation) in the “home” school in spite of eventual program content differences.
ECTS is built on the good will and mutual confidence, from an academic point of view, between the partner establishments. Each establishment chooses its own partners.
ECTS Assures Clarity via the Following Tools
THE ECTS CREDITS
These represent, in the form of a numerical value allocated to every course unit, the work volume that the student should complete and furnish for each of these units.
THE INFORMATION FILE
This provides the information used by students and personnel of the establishments, the departments, the organisation, study structure as well as the course units.
THE GRADE SHEET
This presents in a clear, complete and understandable manner, for each of the parties, the student’s academic results. It must be easily transferable from one establishment to another.
This sets out the study program that the student must follow, as well as the ECTS credits that will be granted after having satisfied the requisite conditions (exam, other evaluation, etc…). This contract binds the home and host establishments as well as the student.
The ECTS Coordinators
Good communication and flexibility are necessary to facilitate the academic recognition of studies undertaken or finished abroad. The ECTS coordinators have, in this regard, a determinant role to play as it is their responsibility, essentially, to deal with the academic and administrative aspects of ECTS.
In principle, it is advisable to make all ECTS faculty/department course units available to students undertaking study abroad, including those which relate to a doctorate. Students must attend regular courses – and not just those which are devised expressly for them – and must have the possibility to satisfy the demands of the host establishment in the material necessary to obtain a diploma or degree.
Continue Studies Abroad
ECTS also allows the student to continue studies abroad. The student may not wish to return to his/her “home” institution once the study period abroad is over and, via the ECTS system, continue to study in the host institution – to obtain a diploma or to opt for a stay in another, third, institution.
Such decisions cannot however be always taken by the home/host institutions themselves, the decision being one for the institution which fixes the conditions that the student must fulfil to obtain a diploma or transfer enrolment. For reviewing the student’s academic results, the grade sheet becomes a particularly useful tool for institutions confronted with such decisions.