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I have attended a university in Russia, and then transferred to Italy, and in Italy they recognized many courses but said to me we can't convert grades, we only recognize courses. Is this a common practice? I find it quite bizarre.

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    Not uncommon - direct conversions are difficult since they rely on fairly detailed understanding of specific university policies at the two places.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 18:28
  • I suspect that the question is moot for you. If they "accepted" the courses then they aren't concerned about fine gradations of the grading. Bizarre, perhaps, but not necessarily bad.
    – Buffy
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 21:53
  • @Buffy Assuming they got good grades in the courses originally, probably the way it would most affect OP is in their GPA. And that's also probably why they don't do the grade conversion - they're willing to let the courses count towards prereqs and degree requirements, but don't want to mess with GPA by assigning a grade.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 22:12
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    An easy example - in Canada, grades are about 10% lower than in the US so transferring my Canadian grades to the US even though they seem really similar would have really dinged my GPA Commented Sep 10, 2021 at 14:05
  • Obviously, Canadian students are 10% worse than US students.
    – Dirk
    Commented Sep 12, 2021 at 11:48

3 Answers 3

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It is quite difficult to directly compare grades. For example, in the US, we use an A/B/C/D/F grading scheme, sometimes with pluses or minuses attached. In India, students are graded on a scale from 0 to 100. In Iran, on a scale from 0 to 20. In each case, there is an understanding what exactly, say, a "C" grade means and the people in that culture know how that compares to, say, a typical undergraduate student's knowledge.

But it is very hard to know what precisely a 16.5 in the Iranian system means, for example. Unless you have worked there, you won't know and won't be able to judge. It would require knowing what the average in the Iranian system is, and to also know whether the average is the same at all universities, all disciplines, or whether there is a substantial difference between universities. It would also require to know which Iranian universities are good and which aren't.

For all of these reasons, you have to expect that in many cases, grades can not be meaningfully translated.

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    Sure it's difficult. But here in Germany we have special offices who have conversion tables and experts for pretty much all conversions from different systems. They are even standardized in Germany and I suspected that the standards hold for the EU.
    – Dirk
    Commented Sep 10, 2021 at 5:49
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Yes, I have heard universities in North America doing it both ways (giving grades and not giving grades). It might even vary based on what country the grades were from. This may have consequences for what courses taken abroad can count for. Unfortunately, if your university is choosing one way or the other, you aren't likely to get an exemption.

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Grade conversion is difficult, but it is essentially a solved problem. Conversion tables should exist, but I don't know about the situation in Italy. In Germany we usually convert all grades, but the question is more difficult than just converting the grade. Other questions are: Is there are corresponding course here? Does it have the number of credits?

Coming back to the question "Is it common?": Conversion is surely possible (and is may even be standardized) but many other factors come into play. So the policy "we just accept courses" sounds reasonable. The places I know about convert as many grades as possible (but I know just a few places).

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