In June 1999, 29 European Ministers of Education signed the Bologna Declaration (PDF, 16KB) with the objective to develop a European university system and to increase the competitiveness of Europe's educational position.
As of fall 2006 most of the faculties of the University of Zurich have replaced the existing licentiate and diploma study courses by structured, two-staged study programs according to the «Bologna model».
The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System is a student-centered system based on the student workload required to achieve the objectives of a programme, objectives preferably specified in terms of the learning outcomes and competences to be acquired.
ECTS is based on the principle that 60 credits measure the workload of a full-time student during one academic year. The student workload of a full-time study programme in Europe amounts in most cases to around 1500–1800 hours per year and in those cases one credit stands for around 25 to 30 working hours.