I recently graduated from a MSc in Spain.

When applying for PhD abroad I discovered the equivalence system in place in order to "translate" my grades here into a standard one, as part of the Bologna process.

The system in place in Spain is the following for the MSc, a grade over 10 :

  • From 5 to 6.9 : "Satisfactory"
  • From 7 to 8.9 : "Very Good"
  • From 9 to 10.0 : "Excellent"
  • "Honors" is given on exceptional occasion.

I insist on the exceptional occasion. On any course, there cannot be more than two students with honors, and often none is given.

The "European standard" grade is a grade from 1 to 4. It looks like each country decided for the equivalence system. And here is my issue, there are HUGE discrepancies between them. In Spain, they chose the following basic equivalence (see the Royal Decree 1044/2003 for Spanish speaker):

  • Satisfactory -> 1/4
  • Very Good -> 2/4
  • Excellent -> 3/4
  • Honor -> 4/4

Meaning that even if you get a perfect score of 10/10 in an exam, this will only show as 3/4 in the European Supplement. That makes NO sense! Especially when you know that the same system in very different, in the UK for instance. I spoke with several teachers in UK and in Spain, and clearly the system is biased : From their own word, in the UK, a student with less than 3/4 will be regarded as "average" when applying for PhD, while in Spain, there are no simply no student with grades over 3/4 (at least this year at my uni) ! Again, words from Spanish teachers, here a student with around 2.5 grade will be considered as a very good profile.

The issue is that this EU system (from 1 to 4) is directly used as is by several processes of PhD and grant applications, inside and outside of Europe. Meaning that Spanish students are at a big disadvantage here.

is this issue well known in Europe? Is there anything feasible in order to remedy it?

I don't fear long administrative process. I know that I can try explaining the issue every time I apply somewhere, but this wouldn't be true solution, as it is often not possible to communicate with PhD application's jury, and many students are not even aware of this.

Also, does anyone knows where I could find the equivalence system for other countries? I would like to look at the topic further.

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