In 2009 the European Commission published a new ECTS Users’ guide in which the ECTS grading table was proposed to replace the older grading scale (A B C D E grades for students with at least a pass mark, with a percentage distribution of 10/25/30/25/10). In this document, however, there are no details on the modalities of how to arrive at a practical implementation, which entails the risks that no uniform implementation is imminent.
The ECTS grading table is explained in the ECTS Users’ Guide.
A number of universities from the SGROUP and UNICA Network, jointly representing almost 80 higher education institutions from 34 countries, and other interested parties joined forces in a workgroup that wants to arrive at a common European approach to ECTS grading tables implementation.
The essence of the grading table is to determine how often the same mark is given statistically during a number of consecutive years of study within a certain (aggregated) group of students (most likely students of the same field, but it could also be the whole university). In doing so an overview in the form of a distribution curve or distribution list with percentage ranges per mark is obtained. Only marks that lead to full credits are taken into account.
This allows a more straightforward comparison of two grading systems. When a student goes abroad, for each original (pass) mark abroad a percentage is calculated that expresses how often the mark is given within the reference student population (aggregated data) The conversion to the local grade is done by means of that percentage: it is determined which home university mark most closely corresponds in percentage terms to that of the home student reference group and what the range is of that percentage at the home university (deviation).
If the system is used correctly and coherently, not only different marking systems but also grading cultures are bridged within the European education area and even beyond.
About the Project
The Egracons project proposal for submitted and approved for funding within the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission in 2012 as a 3-year project, starting in October 2012.
The aim of the proposal is to work out a comprehensible, transparent and easy to use methodology for grade conversion according to the ECTS system leading to an improved implementation of the ECTS grading tables proposed in the Users’ guide recommended by the European Commission.
A consortium of Universities from Belgium (both Dutch-speaking and French-speaking), France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and UK, supported by two European Universities’ Networks, i.e. the SGROUP and UNICA, have committed to carrying out analyses of existing grading cultures in their respective countries and compare them with existing practices on a European scale with the aim to arrive at agreed procedures regarding the working out of grading tables, more specifically the level of aggregation, the automatic conversion and the interpretation of distribution percentages with respect to corresponding statistical data provided by individual universities.
The conversion system as proposed will be a strong tool for harmonisation within Europe and will ultimately lead to a more transparent grading culture.
The project aims to build up a wide-spread awareness and common understanding of the different grading systems in Europe and to enable an accurate interpretation of grades (or marks) given abroad, leading to a fair and manageable conversion of these grades to a local grade in the home institution. The results of the project will therefore benefit students, academic staff, the administration and even future employers.
· Improve the implementation mechanisms of ECTS at European universities and the understanding of grading cultures in Europe
· Identify the main critical factors influencing the use of the ECTS grading tables and their conversion to national/institutional systems through the sampling of the marks of European students and comparing grading systems
· Enhance mobility flows in Higher Education institutions and their commitment to recognise periods of studies based on transparent and clear criteria
· Match the needs of students, academic and administrative staff through an awareness raising campaign about the advantages and mechanisms of ECTS implementation
· Remove obstacles to mobility by working out a concrete and common methodology to convert marks obtained abroad
In order to be able to reach its objectives the project is firstly mapping grading practices in countries and individual institutions on the basis of an extensive questionnaire filled in by institutions all over Europe leading to a full description of the grading systems in use in Europe. The questionnaire will be available for European institutions to answer it until the end of the year. PLEASE FIND THE SURVEY HERE.
The Consortium has prepared Instructions for Grading Tables in order to assist HEIs in Europe in creating their tables according to the ECTS Guide, using common aggregation criteria.
It is also developing an online, web based Egracons tool that will allow direct and automatic conversions of such grades on the basis of annual, statistically-based grading tables supplied by individual institutions as part of an overall database.
The project aims eventually at the elaboration f the online grade conversion tool that can be compared with an online currency converter. The student results will be grouped using the ISCED codes, INTERNATIONAL STANDARD CLASSIFICATION OF EDUCATION developed by UNESCO and adopted by its member states in 2011. The final concrete list will be adopted this year. Please read more here.
This is the product of extensive international and regional consultations among education and statistical experts, ISCED 2011 takes into account significant changes in education systems worldwide since the last ISCED revision in 1997. The first data collection based on the new classification will begin in 2014. The UIS is working closely with Member States and partner organizations (such as OECD and Eurostat) to map education systems to the new classification and revise collection instruments.
The application of the ISCED codes by the EGRACONS project poses a new opportunity to develop a transnational grade conversion tool serving not only Europe but also overseas partners. Consequently, the EGRACONS project increases the understanding of national or institutional grade conversion distinctions and presents a potential for a reliable transparency and recognition of studies.
EGRACONS IN A NUTSHELL:
- The EGRACONS project is a Europe-wide initiative involving currently at least 80 HEIs from 34 countries
- The EGRACONS survey on the grading cultures is addressed to over 4,000 higher education institutions across Europe
- The EGRACONS project presents a potential for integrating universities from outside Europe as it is based on the aggregation criteria of fields of studies covered by the ISCED codes, an internationally recognised standard classification of education.
- The EGRACONS aims at improving understanding of grading cultures, thus removing barriers to academic mobility.
- The EGRACONS has substantial potential to be developed as a reliable transparency and recognition tool for international collaboration.
More info about the SURVEY, GRADING TABLE INSTRUCTIONS and the project can be found on www.egracons.eu.