“Cheap” and “expensive” credit points: a case study of their causes and utility at a high course-load university

  • Alex DaviesEmail author
Original Paper


Failures to standardize the work required to receive equal credit points from different courses make credit points unfit for their official purposes. Moreover, increasingly, institutions are found where students are required to take a high number of courses simultaneously. This study aimed to identify plausible hypotheses about how high course-loads and standardization failure interact by examining credit point standardization failure at an Estonian university where students are required to take twice as many courses as their peers at better performing universities. The hypotheses supported by the study are: the high course-load both made standardization failure useful to students seeking to manage the high course-load and contributed toward standardization failure because it rendered students’ assessments of workload untrustworthy to lecturers who regulate that workload. Existing advice on standardization of workloads within the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System is criticized for its insensitivity to the constructive effects of course-load on student workload preferences.


Credit points Course workload Course-load Student preferences 



The research of this paper was supported by the European Regional Development Fund through grant SHVHV16145T and the Centre for Excellence in Estonian Studies.


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Copyright information

© The European Higher Education Society 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TartuTartuEstonia

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