The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) from the perspective of Irish teacher educators

Gleeson, Jim, Lynch, Raymond and McCormack, Orla (2021) The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) from the perspective of Irish teacher educators. European Educational Research Journal, 20 (3). pp. 365-389. ISSN 1474-9041


The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), one of the main pillars of the Bologna Process, was heavily influenced by external forces such as internationalisation, globalisation and market values. It was also immune to national/regional policy influences and differences between academic disciplines. The authors investigated a) Irish teacher educators’ perceptions of the reasons for the introduction of the ECTS and b) the influence of the ECTS on teacher educators’ practice. A Qualtrics survey including both closed and open-ended questions was sent to all Irish teacher educators. Asked about the rationale for the introduction of the ECTS and about its influence on their professional work, these respondents rated and ranked the importance of student mobility and the transferability of their academic achievements ahead of teaching and learning aspects. These findings, which were confirmed by participants’ open-ended responses, are discussed from the following macro-contextual perspectives: inattention to general HE curriculum issues in an environment dominated by discipline-based silos; the limitations of top-down reform, particularly at the implementation stage; low ERASMUS participation rates of Irish student teachers; and the ECTS focus on skills, competences and pre-determined learning outcomes. The influence of these contextual factors is summarised in the conclusion, along with some implications for teacher education.

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