ECTS MA, founded in 2004, is a legal association whose members are medical faculties from the European Union, including Switzerland and Norway. The aim of this association is the optimization of the exchange of Medical Students within the E.U. using European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).
The core of the ECTS pilot phase medical discipline continued its activities from 1996 and was called ECTS ICMG (ECTS Inner Circle Medicine Group). It initially consisted of some 30 medical faculties and expanded gradually to 45 members. The group survived without EC grants from 1996 till today. The members met once a year, mainly as a clearing house meeting for student exchange. The ECTS MA's first statutory meeting took place in 2004 (Crete), where a constitution was approved. So the former ECTS ICMG became an association with legal status with its seat in Brussels. An important initiative of ECTS MA was the preparation for the application of the thematic network MEDINE (2004-2007), and Medine2 (2009-2012) which were successful and approved by the European Commission.
The Erasmus project, initiated by the European Commission (EC), was founded in 1987. After two years the European Commission felt that, whilst it was successful in terms of physical mobility of students, the ERASMUS scheme was not working as well as it should because frequently the period of study of the student was not recognised by the student's own university. This meant that often study had to be repeated and examinations retaken.
Ways were considered of making improvements and the idea was put forward of a European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). A pilot scheme was launched for the 1989/90 academic year in five subject areas: History, Chemistry, Business Studies, Mechanical Engineering and Medicine. Initially about 20 institutions per subject took part, but this increased to around 30 per subject by the end of the pilot phase (1995-1996).
The pilot phase was designed to test the European potential of credit transfer as an effective means of academic recognition. It was based on mutual trust and confidence between institutions in terms of the quality of the educational experience enjoyed by the students. The pilot institutions were chosen for their general academic compatibility of standards. The scheme proved successful and was opened out in 1995 to all HEIs in the EU who wished to make use of it as a standard system for recognising and transferring academic credits. It has now become the standard for all student exchange agreements where academic recognition of the study period abroad is required by the home institution. A breakthrough for ECTS was created with the Bologna Declaration (1999), after which ECTS became part of the Bologna process. The European Universities Association (EUA), which represents and supports universities across Europe, approved of the ECTS Key Features in its annual conference in Zurich (2002). The Key Features are a concise document in which the essentials and principals of ECTS are stated. ECTS was further developed by the TUNING project (2004). The aim of this project is to standardize and tune the educational structures in Europe. Finally, the European Commission supported the development of ECTS by appointing a group of experts, the so-called ECTS Counsellors. This group of experts designed an ECTS Users’ Guide which can be found on the EC website.
ECTS pilot phase:
Prof. João Relvas (Coimbra, Portugal), 1989-1995
ECTS Inner Circle Medicine Group:
Prof. Jaques Winand (Brussels, Belgium), 1996-1998
Prof. Jean-Pierre Wauters (Lausanne, Switzerland), 1998-2021
Mr. Tim Jones (Bristol, UK), 2002-2004
ECTS Medicine Association:
Prof. Manuel Vijande (Oviedo, Spain), 2004-2007
Prof. Borghild Roald (Oslo, Norway) 2007 -2011
Prof. Sylvain Meuris (Brussels, ULB, Belgium), 2011-