How to Start: Making a Study Plan
Here you will find information about the credit systems used in the Global Learning Study Abroad Programs and how they can be converted into ECTS credits in Europe and other countries, such as the United States (GPA – Grade Point Average) or Australia (RPL – Recognition of Prior Learning). As the practices of transferring credits vary from institution to institution, you are encouraged make a study plan and an overview of all the courses you want to follow at the host university once you have received the notification of preliminary acceptance.
If you are currently enrolled in an institute of higher education, you may want discuss the study plan with the international coordinator at your home institution. If you plan to collect data for your final thesis by doing a field study in another country, you can also liaise with your mentor or supervisor. Please present the study plan to your home institution, which is in charge of granting the transfer credits, to discuss the credit transfer in advance to ensure full recognition for your studies abroad. Remember that home universities make the final decisions about transferring credits.
What is a Credit System?
A credit system is a systematic way of describing an educational program by attaching credits to its components. To put it into simpler words, credit systems are used to assess students’ advancement in meeting curriculum requirements in their studies. The number of credits a student obtains for attending a course is based on different criteria including student workload, learning outcomes and contact hours.
Hence, study credits are awarded to students in lieu of their past knowledge or work experience, whereby students only need to study to earn the remaining credits required to complete their course. As a general rule, the more work and effort you are required to put into a particular course, the more credits that course is worth. You are also required to earn a certain number of credits or, in other words, pass a certain number of courses with a passing grade in order to be registered as a full-time student.
What is ECTS?
The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System or ECTS is a common European credit system for higher education designed to make it easier for students to move between different countries. Since they are based on the learning achievements and workload of a course, a student can transfer their ECTS credits from one university to another so they are added up to contribute to an individual’s degree program or training. ECTS was first introduced in Europe in 1989 to facilitate the transfer of credits completed abroad, and thus promote student exchange in Europe.
ECTS is now widely used throughout higher education institutions, in accordance with the main goals of the Bologna declaration of 1999, as it facilitates student mobility within Europe and the comparison of study programs and courses.
Why is ECTS needed?
The differences between national systems can lead to problems with the recognition of educational qualifications from other countries and of periods of study taken abroad. Greater transparency of learning achievements simplifies the recognition of studies done in other countries. ECTS also makes it possible to merge different types of learning, such as university and work-based learning, within the same program of study or in a lifelong learning perspective.
ECTS helps to make learning more student-centered. It is a central tool in the Bologna Process, which aims to make national systems more compatible.
ECTS also helps with the planning, delivery and evaluation of study programs, and makes them more transparent.
How does ECTS work?
ECTS credits represent the workload and defined learning outcomes of a given course or program. The workload, which includes also lectures, seminars, field/study trips, preparation for exams and taking exams, refers to the amount of time it takes an average student to achieve the required learning outcome. The learning outcome refers to either what an average student is expected to have learned during a course.
60 ECTS-credits are the equivalent of one academic year of full-time study comprising about 1500-1800 hours. In a standard academic year, 60 credits would be usually broken down into several smaller components – in Europe, a full-time student’s workload is most often 36-40 weeks each year, which means that one study credit represents about 25-30 hours of work. A typical “first cycle” (or Bachelor’s) Degree, would consist of 180 or 240 credits, whereas a typical “second cycle” (or Master’s) Degree, would consist of 90 or 120 credits, with at least 60 credits at second cycle level. The use of ECTS at the “third cycle” (or PhD level) varies.
ECTS has been adopted by most of the countries in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and is increasingly used elsewhere. The ECTS Users’ Guide describes the ECTS credit system, and how to use it.
(For more detailed information, go to http://ec.europa.eu/education/ects/ects_en.htm)
Credit Transfer from Your Host Institution
Outside Europe, most countries use their own credit system, which differs from that used in your home institution. Your department and/or school study abroad co-ordinator will advise you regarding transfer of credits back to your degree program – in particular, must verify how many credits your home institution expects you to receive while studying abroad and that the modules you choose are transferable to your degree course. In some of our study abroad destinations, there is no consensus regarding credit transfer and accumulation and the systems applied may vary greatly from one institution to another even in the same country. Please scroll down to see more detailed information about credit transfer for our European and American students.
As a general rule, you will be expected to study modules in the same academic discipline as the degree program you are registered onto at your home institution, although it might be possible to study language, culture or even modules in related academic disciplines to your degree. As all pre-agreed study undertaken whilst you are abroad should be recognized by your department or school and the credit should transfer back to your degree program, it is vitally important that you ensure you know what modules and courses you are allowed to study and how many credits you need to study whilst abroad. The final decision regarding your study program will need to be be made by your departmental/school study abroad coordinator .
A module is a single component that can contain documents (PDF, Powerpoint, e.g.), discussions, assignments, quizzes, and other learning materials you create and that can be distributed alone or as part of a course. A course is made of one or more modules packed together – thus, modules basically allow you to organize your course content by weeks, units, or a different organizational structure that will in turn help you control the flow of your course.
European Students: Credit System & Transfer to Your Home Institution
As outlined above, the ECTS – the European Credit Transfer System, was developed to provide common procedures to guarantee academic recognition of studies abroad. It provides a way of measuring and comparing academic merits and transferring them from one institution to another – including between universities based in and outside Europe. It is your responsibility to liaise with your departmental/school study abroad coordinator(s) in order to gain approval for credit transfer from your studies abroad to your home degree.
Your institution may use the so-called ECTS Learning Agreement, which is the contract between you, your home institution and the host institution, such as in Thailand or Cambodia, about what you can enroll in while studying abroad. You should list all the modules or courses you intend or expect to attend, together with their the credit value of the host institution where you will be studying (include any work and credit value of work carried out for your home institution).
Once your proposed work schedule has been agreed by your home institution, you will need to email a scanned copy of the Learning Agreement to Global Learning (at firstname.lastname@example.org) so that we can liaise with your host institution in order to get a final confirmation that these choices are available. It is sometimes the case that changes need to be made after your arrival at the host institution. In this case, you must get the approval of your departmental/school study abroad coordinator and a final signed version should be sent to the institutional coordinator. It is essential that the Study Abroad Office at your home institution retains a copy of your Learning Agreement.
Some counrries use letter grades (e.g. A – F), some will use numerical/percentage grading systems that could differ significantly from the percentage system used in your home institution. Your department/school study abroad coordinator will be able to advise you regarding how the grading system at the partner institution will convert back to your home degree.
UDAYANA UNIVERSITY – Credit Conversion
The credits at Udayana University are granted directly as ECTS credits. The Bali International Summer School course, which is worth 5 ECTS credits, includes 45 contact hours (including lectures, study trips, and 2 hours of final examination), plus another about 25 hours that students are expected to spend on self-study (completing compulsory readings) and about 5 hours of preparation for the final examination.
UDAYANA UNIVERSITY – Grade Transcript & Grading System
The Udayana University grade transcripts are prepared in English. Transcripts are comparable to the European (namely German) system with some minor modifications, as shown in the Table.
You can download the Conversion Table HERE.
American Students: Credit System & Transfer to Your Home Institution
All American students enrolled in one of our study abroad programs – at Udayana University in Bali or at Prince of Songkla University (PSU) in Phuket – have successfully transferred credits to their home institutions in the US. Our academic advisors are available to assist should any further information be required by the students or institutions concerned.
Credits are awarded on a semester basis. Each semester has 15 weeks of lectures, 1 week of midterm examinations, and 1-2 weeks of final examinations.
PRINCE OF SONGKLA UNIVERSITY – Credit Conversion
At Prince of Songkla University Each course on the curriculum typically counts as 4 PSU credits, and includes 45 lecture hours or equivalent, 90 hours self-study, 6 hours of examinations (3 hours for midterm examination and 3 hours for final examination) and about 12 hours of preparations for the examination. In total, this equals 153 study hours per course. Some courses may require additional time for activities such as business visits or field trips.
In addition to attending lectures and field trips organized by the Faculty of International Studies, students are expected to carry out and keep a record of class exercises, independent studies, group work, business and site visits, quiz and examination preparation, and lecture notes taken throughout the semester. All work that goes into earning credits makes the overall workload complete and substantive. PSU considers a student to be full-time if his/her schedule totals 16 or more credits (that is, between 4 and 7 courses) per semester.
For students from European universities, one completed course at the Faculty of International Studies at PSU typically converts to 5,5-6 ECTS credits (depending on the requirements of the student’s home institution). For students from American universities, PSU course credits are normally transferred in the ratio of 4:3 to US course credits (i.e. 4 to 3, PSU to US) based on university standards for comparing the study attainment and performance of students. While in Thailand, 1 credit is generally equivalent of about 11 contact hours with the course lecturer (i.e. 4 credit courses involve 45 contact hours), in the US, 1 credit is generally equivalent to 15 contact hours (i.e. 3 credit courses involve 45 contact hours).
PRINCE OF SONGKLA UNIVERSITY – Grade Transcript & Grading System
The Prince of Songkla University grade transcripts are prepared in English. Transcripts are comparable to the US system with some minor modifications, as shown in the Table below. PSU transcripts do not distinguish levels of “A” (such as A+ or A-) or attribute “minus” grades at the B, C or D levels (i.e. there is no B-, C-, or D-). “S” and “U” are only used for students who audit courses. “R” is used to indicate a course deferred due to student illness with intent to re-enroll in the course at a future date. The grade scale for coursework and exams may vary slightly between courses according to individual syllabi.