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International Credits in the European Higher Education Area

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Global Engineering Models: Curriculum Development, Improvements, and Partnerships

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Page Count


Page Numbers

22.948.1 - 22.948.10



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Paper Authors


Jeffrey J. Evans Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Jeffrey J. Evans received his B.S. from Purdue University and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Illinois Institute of Technology. His research interests are in adaptive computing systems, focusing on the effects of subsystem interactions on application performance. He is also interested in embedded systems and embedded systems security problems. He is a member of the ASEE, ACM, and a Senior Member of the IEEE.

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Glenn R. Blackwell Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Glenn Blackwell has taught in the ECET Department at Purdue University for over 30 years. He has worked with the Lucerne University of Applied Arts and Sciences in Switzerland for the last six years to create a viable semester-long student exchange program.

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International Credits in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA): the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)US universities with an interest in having students study at European universities need tounderstand the value of courses at those universities relative to credits at US universities. TheEuropean Higher Education Area (EHEA) and the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)were mandated by the Bologna Declaration in 1999 and are part of a strategic plan for creatingan integration of the higher education systems in Europe by the end of the year 2010. The ECTSis an important part of this overall effort since its intent is to allow students to transfer creditsamong the diverse universities in different European countries. The countries involved in theEHEA are not limited to, nor all-inclusive of, member countries of the European Union (EU).The process leading to the ECTS has been reasonably well accepted by European systems. Asnoted by the European Students Union (1), “The three-cycle system (bachelor, master, anddoctoral degrees) and the ECTS are among the prime examples of successes of the BolognaProcess…”One significant difference between ECTS credits and typical US university credits is that anECTS credit includes not only lecture and laboratory times but also individual out-of-class workand exam times. According to the current ECTS system a 15 weeks semester of higher educationcorresponds to approximately 30 credits.As a beginning comparison between US and European systems (2), “Regarding undergraduatedegrees, there is a clear trend across Europe toward assigning between 180 and 240 ECTScredits, equalling 3 to 4 years full-time study, while graduate degrees at Master level normallycarry 60-120 ECTS credits”.This paper will discuss some of the variations in both courses and degrees, including the three-year bachelor’s degree. It will also discuss ways for US institutions to understand possibleequivalencies between the US and ECTS systems.1. …The European Students Union (2010). “Bologna at the Finish Line-An Account of TenYears of European Union.”2. Martin, MJM (2008). “New Trends in Electrical and Information Engineering HigherEducation in Europe.

Evans, J. J., & Blackwell, G. R. (2011, June), International Credits in the European Higher Education Area Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18145

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