ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) is a system to facilitate academic recognition of courses taken abroad. It is used by more than 1000 universities in individual subjects or for all subjects.
At the University of Vienna ECTS has been introduced in three study programmes.
The Austrian university studies law requires that ECTS credits are allocated to courses in all new curricula.
Traditionally, the Austrian university courses are based on the concept of Semesterwochenstunden (= contact hours per week for the duration of one semester or approximately 15 weeks), i.e. courses are seen from a teacher's point of view.
In contrast, ECTS looks at a course from the student's point of view: ECTS credits are based on the concept of workload, which comprises both attendance of a course and study time. ECTS credits represent the workload of a course. According to the ECTS guidelines a full workload for one semester is 30 ECTS credits, for one year it is 60 ECTS credits.
In most subjects, however, less than 10 per cent of the Austrian students finish their degree in the time officially scheduled. This should be considered if one has to assess the work done by an exchange student.
Exchange students using the ECTS system should aim at earning 30 ECTS credits per semester but they should not be penalized by their home institution if they achieve less than 30 credits per semester.
As new curricula are being introduced in all subjects, it is hoped that the difference between the scheduled time and the actual time needed by all students to finish their degree will disappear.
All Austrian ERASMUS students get academic recognition in advance of their study abroad period. Austrian students intending to study abroad have the right to a obtain legally binding decision about which courses will be recognised by their home institution before they leave for their study abroad period.