Recognition and allocation of ECTS-Credits

 Award and allocation of ECTS-Credits
Recognition of learning experiences
Additional information on permeability

Award and allocation of ECTS-Credits

ECTS-Credits are used to determine the relative workload of individual academic tasks. According to the Universities Act the workload of one year must total 1500 (real) hours, which is equivalent to 60 ECTS-Credits. Therefore, 1 ECTS-Credit equals 25 hours of work.


When designing the curriculum, the person in charge is responsible for ensuring that these guidelines are implemented. That means that when it has been decided

  • which modules with which scope (number of ECTS-Credits) convey the targets of a study programme and
  • which lectures make up each individual module

then the ECTS-Credits allocated to each individual module must be divided between the lectures accordingly.


As part of a study programme, lecturers must design their courses in such a way that (average) students can successfully complete the course / module using the workload set out in the curriculum.

Every activity that is necessary to achieve the learning outcome is considered to be part of the workload. This includes in particular:

  • attending class (meeting of students with the course lecturer with the aim of disseminating knowledge, skills and methods = contact hours), with one course unit lasting 45 minutes,
  • independent study, research, completing written papers,
  • preparing for examinations, sitting examinations (unless this examination time is included in the contact hours).

Students are only awarded the Credits once they have successfully completed the relevant examination(s).

 Calculation of ECTS-Credits


1 contact hour (45 minutes), one semester (15 weeks) à 1 x 0.75 x 15 = 11.25 hours
+ preparation and revision time; this differs according to the type of lecture, but is directly linked to the description of the lecture (learning outcome, content) – see curriculum.
+ preparation for examination(s)
= X hours / 25 ~ ECTS-Credits


A lecture assessed using continuous assessment, 2 semester hours, several assessments of performance:

22.5 contact hours (2 x 0.75 x 15)
22.5 hours of preparation and revision time
15 hours of preparation for examinations
= 60 hours / 25 = 2.4 ~ 2.5 ECTS-Credits

Statute specifications, study-law regulations (excerpts)

“(…) The degree programmes and continuing education courses created in accordance with UA § 54 is to be divided into modules. (…) Modules are thematic units that consist of 2.5 or preferably 5 ECTS-Credits or a multiple thereof.(…). A module typically covers a semester; in certain cases it may cover several semesters. (…) Module name, length, content and a short description of the learning objectives are to be specified in the curricula. (…) Modules are to consist of several courses. In justifiable cases, a module may consist of only one course. (…) Title, type and length of courses are to be specified in curricula, with ECTS-Credits allocated in increments of 1, in justifiable cases in increments of 0.5. (…)”

Recommendations of the national Bologna Follow-Up Group (excerpt)

“(…) In Europe the average module equals around 6 or 5 ECTS-Credits, i.e. per semester 5x6 = 30 ECTS-Credits (…)”


Recognition of learning experiences

Mobility programmes have shown that transparent and fair recognition of learning experiences contributes significantly to the attractiveness of European universities and can drive the continued development of a European Higher Education Area. The idea of creating a common higher education area was first mentioned in 1988 as part of the Magna Charta Universitatum. In 1997 the concept was then outlined at a European level in the Lisbon Convention and the Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region (Council of Europe / UNESCO 1997). However, it wasn’t until the Bologna Process (cf. Bologna Declaration 1999) that concrete action was taken to achieve this objective.

 Recognition of examinations

According to § 78 Para. 1 of the Universities Act 2002 (UA) examinations passed by students attending recognised domestic or foreign post-secondary educational institutions, higher vocational schools, schools for the training of teachers and non-teaching supervisory staff, recognised domestic educational institutions for which an admission requirement is the general university entrance qualification, or university­level courses, as well as examinations in artistic and artistic-scientific subjects passed by students at secondary schools with a particular emphasis on music, shall be recognised by the officer responsible for study matters on application of the degree student concerned, provided that such qualifications are equivalent to those prescribed by the curriculum. Examinations taken at a domestic university or a university in the European Union or European Economic Area shall be recognised for further study of the same subject at another domestic university provided that the number of ECTS-Credits is the same or only slightly different. Such recognition may be generally prescribed by the curriculum. Recognition of examinations taken at another university which contravene the provisions of § 63 Para. 8 and 9 of the Universities Act is excluded.

According to § 78 Para. 2 of the Universities Act examinations taken at Austrian public conservatoires shall be recognised on application of the degree student concerned, provided that they are equivalent to examinations prescribed by the curriculum.

  Workflow description of the recognition of academic performances

According to § 78 Para. 5 of the Universities Act, in response to a request by a degree student to conduct part of his/her studies abroad, the university shall give notice of the examinations which such student plans to take which are deemed equivalent to those prescribed by the curriculum. The applicant shall submit the documents required to assess such equivalence.

 Recognition of prior learning

By law all persons wishing to attend university in Austria must be in possession of a formal qualification (school-leaving certificate). For persons who wish to study at university but do not have a school-leaving certificate there are two options: the working student’s entrance examination and the university entrance qualification examination. Both of these examinations can be considered as recognitions of prior learning.

Recognition of (Prior) Learning of educational outcomes from vocational schools in Tyrol: In Austria educational programmes offered at vocational schools (BHS) are completed within five years. Therefore these schools are granted a higher grade (4A) according to the “International Standard Classification of Education” (ISCED) than general higher education schools (AHS) that offer four year programmes. In order to accredit this higher level of secondary education and to allow alumni of vocational schools to make more informed decisions in their choice for a tertiary study programme, the University of Innsbruck initiated the RPL Project along with other Tyrolean higher education organisations and with the financial support from the Tyrolean government. The project is thought to offer students more time, for example to attend more advanced courses or to concentrate more on a focal area and also to better reconcile the compatibility of study and work. Further information is available on: (in German only).

 Working student's entrance examination

The working student’s entrance examination is seen as equal to the school-leaving certificate. As such, persons who successfully complete the working student’s entrance examination are entitled to study at universities and universities of applied science in Austria.

 Federal Act on the Working Student’s Entrance Examination

 University entrance qualification examination

Persons who are at least 20 years old and wish to attend university can do so if they are able to prove that they have an educational background, either in or outside the workplace, relevant to the subject they wish to study. This educational background must go significantly beyond the completion of general compulsory schooling. As well as completing a written paper on a general topic, these persons must sit three examinations on topics connected to the subject they wish to study. Therefore, persons who successfully complete the university entrance qualification examination are granted a “limited” right to study.

 Rectorate order on the university entrance qualification examination according to UA § 64a

 Information page about the university entrance qualification examination

 Recognition of non-formal and / or informal learning

The university’s options for recognising non-formal or informal learning are very limited.

Supplementary examinations for admission

Supplementary examinations for admission are used to acquire the necessary qualification to study at university or to demonstrate German language skills or physical fitness.

  Example of supplementary sports examination to demonstrate physical fitness

Academic work

According to § 78 Para. 4 of the Universities Act, academic work that is completed in companies or non-university research facilities and could be considered as having provided pre-professional education cannot be recognised.

Continuing education at university

For non-degree students completing continuing education at university, formal and / or informal learning (e.g. relevant work experience) can be recognised as part of the admission requirements.

 Information on continuing education at university 

There is currently no legal basis for the university to recognise other forms of non-formal / informal learning.


Additional information on permeability

In (national) tertiary education, vertical “permeability” in the individual (tertiary education) sectors generally depends on judgements made on the basis of criteria designed to assess the equivalence of qualifications and the applicant’s level of knowledge and ability. The rectorate – or, to be more precise, the University of Innsbruck’s vice-rector for student affairs, in its role as a member of the rectorate – is responsible for student admission. Responsibility for checking whether students meet the legal requirements to be admitted to university is, in turn, passed on to qualified persons (generally the dean of studies). The checks themselves are carried out by the University Admission Department.

As well as official certificates (secondary-school leaving examination, proof of academic degrees), this checking process also involves the following (transparency) instruments that form part of the Bologna Process:

  • Diploma Supplement(incl. transcript of records)
    • list of ECTS-Credits
    • formulation of learning outcomes

Assessing equivalence, legal basis, legal framework

 Proof of eligibility for admission to university for doctoral programmes

According to § 64 Para. 4 of the UA (Universities Act 2002), proof of eligibility for admission to a doctoral programme can be provided through completion of a relevant diploma or master’s programme, completion of a relevant university of applied sciences diploma or master’s programme (according to § 5 Para. 3 of the University of Applied Sciences Studies Act), or completion of another equivalent programme at a recognised domestic or foreign post-secondary educational institution.

If basic equivalence has been established and only certain supplementary qualifications are required for full equivalence, the rectorate shall be entitled to tie the determination of equivalence to examinations.

 Proof of eligibility for admission to university for master's programmes

According to § 64 Para. 5 of the UA admission to a master’s programme is conditional on the successful completion of a relevant bachelor’s programme, university of applied sciences bachelor’s programme, or other equivalent programme at a recognised domestic or foreign post-secondary educational institution. If basic equivalence has been established and only certain supplementary qualifications are required for full equivalence, the rectorate shall be entitled to tie the determination of equivalence to examinations to be sat during the master’s programme.

General eligibility for admission to university shall be deemed to be established by proof that this condition is met.


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