Understanding the European Credit Transfer System

The ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) provides uniform credit across different educational institutions. ECTS grades make study abroad programmes easy to read and compare for all students, local and foreign, with respect for the marks of the host institution. ECTS is closely regulated and monitored by experts in order to modernise higher education in Europe.

Student workload consists of the time required to complete all planned learning activities such as attending lectures, seminars, independent and private study, preparation of projects, and examinations. One credit stands for around 25 to 30 working hours, with a student workload ranging from 1,500 to 1,800 hours or 60 credits for an academic year.

ECTS grades do not replace that of the institution. The ECTS grading system gives information which is in addition to that provided on the host institution's standard transcript, after agreement with the home institution. The ECTS grade is indicated alongside the mark awarded by the institution on the student's transcript of records. Each institution makes its own decision on how to apply the ECTS grading scale to its system.

Standard ECTS Grading Scale

The ECTS grading scale is based on how the student performs relative to other students in the same class (or in a significant group of students). The ECTS system classifies students into broad groups, dividing students into pass or fail and then assessing the performance of these two groups separately. Passing grades are divided into five subgroups, with failing grades determined to be FX (Fail - some more work required before credit can be awarded) or F (Fail - considerable further work is required).

Percentage of successful students normally achieving the grade
ECTS grade
best 10%
outstanding performance with only minor errors
next 25%
above the average standard but with some errors
next 30%
generally sound work with a number of notable errors
next 25%
fair but with significant shortcomings
next 10%
performance meets the minimum criteria

FAIL- some more work required before the credit can be awarded

FAIL - considerable further work required

Learners are awarded ECTS credits only when appropriate assessment has shown that they have achieved the required learning outcomes for a component of a programme or for the qualification.


The host institution must provide the Erasmus student and their home institution a transcript of records confirming that the agreed programme has been completed and confirming the results. The Erasmus mobility period should also be recorded in the Diploma Supplement (provides a standardized description of the nature, level, context, content and status of the studies completed by its holder).


The degree of differentiation varies from country to country, or even within a single country or institution. Expression in terms of ECTS grades is simple where the local marks are highly differentiated (like when the local grading scale has as much or more possible values than the ECTS scale), but in some cases the local marks are less differentiated than those of the ECTS grading scale. This creates two scenarios.

  • When a valid ranking can be obtained from the primary assessment data, the ranking may be used directly to provide the appropriate ECTS grade. In this case, decisions must be made according to the distribution pattern of local grades to avoid injustice to students.
  • When a valid ranking cannot be obtained from the primary assessment data, ECTS pass or fail should be recorded. This applies to local systems where assessment is aimed at only pass/fail or threshold criteria. In these cases, a pass should be indicated by the letter P or the word "pass" in the column for ECTS grades.