The European Higher Education Area (EHEA) has evolved towards a more common and much more understandable structure of degrees. There is, however, no single model of first-cycle programmes in the EHEA. Most countries combine programmes of 180 ECTS and 240 ECTS. In some countries, the number of (usually professional) programmes using the 210 ECTS model is significant as well. In the second cycle, the most common model is 120 ECTS with two-thirds of programmes following this workload. Other models dominate, however, in particular countries. 90 ECTS is the dominant model in Cyprus, Ireland and the... United Kingdom (Scotland) and 60-75 ECTS in Montenegro, Serbia and Spain. The differences in the total workload of the first and second cycles combined can vary by up to 120 ECTS. Such a large difference in the total workload of first and second qualifications may cause problems in recognition of second cycle qualifications in particular. Short-cycle qualifications are the exception to the rule of convergent development in degree structures. They have a different status in different countries, being recognised in some as a part of higher education, in others as part of post-secondary vocational education or even as part of secondary education. They may also be called very differently from one country to the next. When continuing in first cycle programmes, short cycle graduates gain different amounts of credit – from full credit down to zero credits. Access to the next cycle (according to the Lisbon Recognition Convention definition) is generally smooth. The cases where access is not granted occur most often where the applicant has graduated from a professional programme but applies for admission to an academic programme in the next cycle (or vice versa), and where the applicant holds a qualification which does not follow the Bologna pattern. The share of first-cycle students continuing studies in a second-cycle programme after graduation from the first cycle varies among the countries. While in some countries only 1-25 % of first cycle graduates continue to the second cycle, in other countries this figure may reach 75-100 %.
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