The ECTS system is a tool that promotes transparency fosters the relationship between institutions and increases the options for students. It is based on three key elements: information (package of information on study programs and student academic achievements), mutual recognition (learning agreement between the associated centers and the student) and the use of academic ECTS credits (academic record that indicates the volume of student work).
The ECTS system is based on the principle that 60 credits measure the workload of full-time over one academic year for a typical student; typically 30 credits correspond to a semester and 20 to a quarter, so that one credit a means about 25-30 hours of work. The workload of a full study program in Europe amounts in most cases 1500-1800 hours per year.
The mutual recognition of academic qualifications is an essential condition for student’s mobility. Full academic recognition means that the period of study abroad (including examinations and other forms of assessment) replaces a comparable period of study at the home university (including examinations and other forms of assessment), although the content of the curriculum can vary.
Before students going abroad, CESPU defines their Learning / Training Agreement in collaboration with the host institutions. At the end of the mobility the host institutions must issue a Transcript of Records / Work with the number of credits and the grades achieved by the student. According to ECTS system, when students successfully complete the workload required and the assessment of the learning outcomes as previously agreed, credits are transferred to their degree program (studies and curricular placements mobility) and to the Diploma Supplement (studies, curricular and extra-curricular placements mobility). If the student makes a traineeship at an enterprise, the workload is measured in credits and fully transferred by the same procedures. The results are expressed in groups of competencies, which determine the knowledge that the student will have their capabilities and skills matching to the predefined objectives of training.
The Diploma Supplement is a document attached to a higher education diploma aiming at improving international ‘transparency’ and at facilitating the academic and professional recognition of qualifications (diplomas, degrees, certificates etc.). It is designed to provide a description of the nature, level, context, content and status of the studies that were successfully completed by the individual named on the original qualification to which this supplement is appended. It should be free from any value-judgments, equivalence statements or suggestions about recognition. It is a flexible non-prescriptive tool which is designed to save time, money and workload. It is capable of adaptation to local needs.
The Diploma Supplement model complies with the regulations established by the Portuguese Decree Order no 30 issued on January 10 2008 and follows the European Commission’s model, designed by the Council of Europe and UNESCO/CEPES (http://ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learning-policy/ds_en.htm). It is a bilingual document, written both in Portuguese and English, issued automatically by the Academic Management Services of CESPU whenever a degree diploma is issued and free of charge to every student upon graduation.