I was wondering if ECTS Credits are based on performance. For example, I know a course is say 5 ects credits, are those 5 credits awarded to a passing grade or is it based on performance and only a part of those credits are awarded depending on your grades?
The credits refer to the quantity of studying. 60 ECTS credits makes up one year of study. To complete a degree, you need a fixed number of credits, ie you must pass a certain number of modules (or equivalent). The grade of the degree you are awarded is determined by how well you do in those courses.
As the previous answers indicate, ECTS credits are award in full for each passing grade (what exactly constitutes a passing grade differs from country to country).
I can think of at least a couple of important reasons why this is so:
- If you would somehow get more ECTS for doing better in a course, students who get the equivalent of "all As" would actually be able to graduate with less knowledge (i.e., after doing less courses) than students who barely pass a lot more courses. This would construct a weird incentive system, where students who graduate with few courses and good grades may in some contexts appear weaker than a student with terrible grades.
- Grades would become very important then, making grade rubbing an even larger problem. Discussions akin to "with this B I can't graduate this year" would become commonplace, and nobody wants that.
- On a related note, students would lose the ability to plan their studies. You may think that you can graduate this year, but only after getting all grades in you know if you have the required amount of ECTS to do so. It may turn out that one course was harder than expected, and you needed to do an extra course. Yes, in theory this is also true nowadays where failing a course can leave you unable to graduate against your expectations, but the danger of unexpectedly failing a course is much lower than simply having a worse grade than expected.
- There would be even larger incentives for students to select easy over challenging courses.
There are further important aspects for curriculum design etc., but I think even the ones I listed are already sufficient to argue why ECTS are granted in full.