What are University Credits?

A selection of your University Credit questions answered.

What are university credits, what do ECTS credits do, how much is a university credit worth, how can you earn credits? A selection of your University Credit questions answered.
university credits

Credit bearing vs non-Credit bearing Programmes

Non-credit programmes come in different forms but are generally short and focussed in scope. Non-credit programmess are often designed to meet the needs of individuals who are seeking new skills, knowledge, or competencies to enhance their performance in the workplace or respond to new professional demands in a changing world. Examples include modules on popular software packages or new technologies.
By contrast Credit-bearing programmes have relatively set rules around the amount of work, the time involved, the qualifications of the instructor, and the levels of academic oversight. Non-credit courses are much more flexible, since they stand or fall on their own merits. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re less rigorous, but it frequently means they’re more focussed. As a qualified Accountant, that needs to brush up on their Excel skills, a short focussed non-credit class may be just the thing. Similarly, an experienced Python programmer, taking a programme in Machine Learning to understand how to utilise Python in this developing field can open up a whole new world of opportunity and learning.

What are ECTS credits and what do they do?

As the demand for student mobility grew rapidly across Europe, it became clear how difficult it was for single institutions to recognise periods of study across different national higher education systems with divergent degree structures and different academic traditions. From this problem statement the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS), the European solution for Credit measurement was born. It was created as a part of the Bologna Process to make study achievements in Europe comparable.

ECTS provides a way of measuring and comparing learning achievements and transferring them from one institution to another. It is a tool which is designed to make it easier for students to move between countries and be able to recognise their academic qualifications and previous studies. The system aims to enhance the flexibility, comparability and transparency of study programmes for students from different countries.
Importantly from a student perspective, it means that you gain credit for anything that you learn meaning you can add to this later and do not need to re-study the same material again. ECTS points are therefore ideal for continuous professional development (CPD) as many professionals prefer to study modules or units of study at various stages of their career.
A learner who successfully completes one or more credit-bearing Short Courses may, depending on the activity that has been undertaken, be able to use the academic credit awarded for this to apply for advanced entry to a related programme, through the regulations on the Recognition of Prior Learning. This may result in a reduction in the number of modules a learner would need to study.
ECTS credits represent learning based on defined learning outcomes and their associated workload. As well as enhancing the flexibility of study programmes for students, it also aids curriculum design and quality assurance. The ECTS system is used in many European countries as it facilitates the planning, delivery and evaluation of study programmes and student mobility by recognising learning achievements, qualifications and periods of learning.

How much is a university credit worth?

university credits

ECTS credits are a value allocated to course units to describe the student workload required to complete them. ECTS credits express the volume of learning based on defined learning outcomes and their associated workload and are expressed in full numbers. Typically, 1 ECTS credit would equate with around 20 to 25 hours of student effort. One academic year of undergraduate study and associated workload equates to approximately 60 ECTS credits, while a year long postgraduate year of study would be approximately 90 ECTS credits.


While not for everyone, there are some significant benefits of earning credits at university so it’s worth considering whether or not this would suit you before deciding which programme type works best.  We hope this blog post has helped you understand the differences between a non-credit bearing programme and a course that is designed for credits. If it does not, please feel free to contact us! One thing we can guarantee from our experience as educators? You will receive support from your initial enquiry through to graduation at Learnful. We’re happy to answer any questions about how much university credit is worth or what courses offer credits – just get in touch with us today if you need guidance on which programmes might be best suited to your career aspirations.

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