Analytic Quality Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-21, Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 18 June, 2021 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2021.


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Credit accumulation

core definition

Credit accumulation is the process of collecting credit for learning towards a qualification.

explanatory context

Credit accumulation may occur within a programme of study, across an institution, between institutions within a single country or on an international basis as in the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). Where accumulation crosses programme or institutional boundaries, this is usually referred to as credit transfer

analytical review

The UNESCO definition:

Accumulation of Study Credits. Set credits gained by a student in a given higher education institution may be recognized in another institution, depending upon the commonality in terms of level and context, considered as transferable. (Vlãsceanu et al., 2007, p. 47)


The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) (undated) sees accumulation with in the context of credit accumulation and transfer schemes (CATS), which it defines as:

Arrangements within institutions which determine student progression towards defined learning outcomes, including formal qualifications, and recognition of these arrangements between institutions to facilitate the transfer of students.

In the late 1990s, Dalichow (1997) identified in his typology of credit systems two main categories:

transfer-oriented credit and accumulation-oriented credit. Whereas the former model was developed in Europe with the ECTS, the latter is mainly represented by the US. A third category called credit accumulation and transfer systems (CATS) exists which mixes transfer and accumulation functions and is to be found in the UK. {translated from German]

Education and Learning Wales (ELWA) (2002, p. 7) states:

Credit accumulation and transfer system (CATS) is based on a set of agreed specifications and procedures, which facilitates learners to accumulate and transfer the credit they have gained within and beyond the providing institution, awarding body or qualification scheme.


The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA, undated) in the UK defines credit accumulation as:

Achieving academic credit over time, by successful completion of units of study, or by accreditation of prior learning or recognition of prior learning.

associated issues

related areas

See also


credit transfer

European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)


Dalichow, F., 1997, Kredit- und Leistungspunktsysteme im internationalen Vergleich. Bonn: Bundesministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft, Forschung und Technologie.

Education and Learning Wales (ELWA), 2002, Consultation on Credit Common Accord. Cardiff: ELWA.

Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), undated, Glossary, available at, accessed 20 September 2012, still available 31 December 2016, not available 20 June 2019.

Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), undated, Glossary, available at, accessed 7 January 2017, not available 20 June 2019.

Vlãsceanu, L.,  Grünberg, L., and Pârlea, D., 2007,  Quality Assurance and Accreditation: A Glossary of Basic Terms and Definitions ( Bucharest , UNESCO-CEPES) Revised and updated edition. ISBN 92-9069-186-7, available at , accessed 19 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

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