The Qualifications and Quality Assurance Authority of Ireland was established by legislation in 2012 to take over the functions of the National Qualification Authority of Ireland, The Higher Education and Training Awards Council and the Further Education and Training Awards Council. The property, assets and liabilities of these bodies were transferred to the new Authority.

The Authority consists of ten members including the chief executive. The members other than the chief executive are appointed by the Authority. They are to include one person with international experience, two who are representatives of learners, one of whom shall be a nominee of the USI. There is to be a balance of men and women. They are to hold office for five years.

The Authority has a chief executive and staff. The chief executive is accountable to the public accounts committee and other Oireachtas committees. The Authority is to produce strategy statements for three year periods.

The Authority is to draw up quality assurance guidelines for the establishment of procedures for quality assurance. In so doing, it is to consult with certain education bodies and providers. In some cases, it may consult with a representative body of the educational bodies.


The functions of the Authority are

  • to promote, maintain, develop and implement the framework of qualifications
  • to advise the Minister in relation to policy on quality assurance and enhancement in education and training;
  • to review and monitor the effectiveness of providers’ quality assurance procedures.
  • to validate programs of education and training
  • to review and monitor validated programs
  • to establish standards of knowledge, skill and competence to be acquired by learners before an award may be awarded
  • to make awards,
  • to delegate authority to make awards, where it considers it appropriate and monitor and review the operation so, delegated
  • to determine policies and criteria for access, transfer and progression in relation to learners
  • to monitor, implement, procedures for access, transfer and progression in relation to learners by providers
  • to establish codes of practice for the provision of programmes of education and training to international learners
  • to authorise the use of international education marks by a provider that complies with the code of practice
  • to establish a database providing information on awards within the framework of education and training that lead to awards recognised during the framework and other programs the Authority thinks appropriate
  • to maintain, establish the below-mentioned register
  • to advise and consult with the Department
  • to cooperate with international bodies on  Qualifications and Quality Assurance policies, in particular in relation to facilitating recognition of such bodies and facilitate recognition outside the State of awards made within the State
    to ensure arrangements for the protection of learners are in place, where programs are not completed, or where the provider ceases to provide the program
  • to assist and enrol learners in finding alternative programs where providers cease to provide a program before completion
  • to collect information in relation to performance

Awarding Bodies

Relevant education providers are bodies under law authorised to make awards. They are obliged to assist the Authority in the performance of its functions. They must cooperate with the Authority and consult with it in regards to the performance of their functions.

Upon being requested, they should provide information required by the Authority. There are procedures for implementation where an award provider or professional recognition body fails to provide the required information.

Quality Assurance

In accordance with the above criteria, education providers and other related service providers are to prepare quality assurance procedures. They are to comply with the above guidelines. They are to include procedures for

  • the evaluation of the provider and by students of the education, training, research and related services,
  • review by the provider of the quality assurance procedures,
  • preparation of a report, setting out the results of the review, and measures arising out of the review.

The report is to be furnished to the Authority and published. There is to be provision for implementation of the requisite measures.

The procedures are to provide for an evaluation to complete every seven years after the Authority produces the guidelines. They can be produced more frequently as the Authority directs. In the case of other related providers, the review may be required from the relevant designated bodies where the Authority so directs.

The quality assurance procedures are to be submitted to the Authority for approval. There are provisions for appeal of a refusal of approval to an appeals panel.

LInked Providers

Where an awarding body proposes to make an award in respect of a program of education and training of a linked provider, the body is to provide procedures for review by the awarding body of the quality assurance procedures of the linked provider.

A linked provider is a body that enters in arrangement with a designated awarding body under which the provider provides a program of education that satisfies all or part of a program of the designated awarding body. This is subject to special procedures.

The procedures are to be reviewed every seven years by the Authority. Approval of the procedures may be withdrawn, in which event there are procedures for reference an appeal panel. A similar review is to take place by the provider itself in respect of procedures established by link providers.

The Authority may conduct from time to time quality reviews as it considers appropriate of the quality of education, training, research and related services provided by providers and link providers.

Framework of Qualifications

The Framework of Qualifications established and maintained by the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland is to continue to be known as the National Framework of Qualifications. The Authority is to review the policies and criteria on which the framework is based and to promote, maintain and further develop the framework as a system for the development, recognition and award of qualifications in the State and the levels of award based on standards of knowledge, skill and competence acquired by the learner relative to a particular level.

The Authority is to review the operation of the framework. It is to promote and facilitate the use by providers and awarding bodies of statements of what an enrolled learner is expected to know, understand, where appropriate demonstrate on completion of a program of education. It is to amend the program from time to time as it considers necessary.

Every body authorised by law to make awards in the State must, in so far as reasonably possible, that it makes its award within the framework. It must ensure the learner acquires the requisite standard of knowledge, skill and competence associated with the level of award within the framework before the award is made.

Validation of Programmes

The Authority is to establish policies and criteria for validation of programs of education and training. These are to be published, including online. They are to be reviewed every five years. The Authority is to consult with awarding bodies before establishing policies and criteria for the validation of programmes of education and training where successful completion of the program leads to a joint award of the Authority and the body concerned.

Providers of education and training may apply to the Authority for validation of programs. They must first establish procedures for quality assurance. Applications for validation may be made by

  • Institutes of Technology,
  • National Tourism Development Authority,
  • Teagasc,
  • An Bord Iascaigh Mhara,
  • any education or training institution established and maintained by the VEC now ETB.
  • a recognised school in so far as it provides adult or continuing or vocational education or training leading to an award.

Providers need not make applications in respect of programmes of education that

  • relate to leisure or recreational activity,
  • where the award-making power has been delegated
  • where the provider has entered an arrangement with another awarding body.

Vaalidation Proecedure

There are procedures for consideration and validation of the program of education and training. The validation may be subject to conditions as may be imposed. There are obligations on the awarding body to

  • cooperate and assist the Authority,
  • establish procedures for assessment of enrolled learners to ensure the requisite quality or skill,
  • comply with arrangements for the protection of learners and
  • provide information as is required for the performance of functions, including information in respect of completion rates.

Refusal of approval may be appealed through an appeals panel. The Authority may review a program of education as it has validated. Approval may be withdrawn. The matter is subject to procedure, including provision of the award to an appeals panel.

The appeals panel consists of persons with special interests in education and training appointed by the Minister. The appeals panel is appointed for five years. There is a chairman and ordinary members. There are procedures for the hearing of matters by the appeal body.


The Authority may determine the standards of skill and competence to be acquired and demonstrated by a learner before an award may be made. It is to have regard to the framework for standards mentioned above.

It may determine different standards for different awards or classes of awards. The Authority is to consult with the awarding body before determining standards for joint award of the Authority and the awarding party.


The Authority shall, on the application of a learner, in accordance with criteria established, make an award to the learner where the learner has, in the opinion of the Authority demonstrated the appropriate standard of knowledge, skill, or competence as required.

Certain bodies may request that the Authority delegates authority to make awards to it. They are

  • Teagasc,
  • BIM
  • Institute of Technology,
  • National Tourist Development Authority.
  • a provider of a program of education and training complying with requirements set out in regulations.

The Authority is to evaluate a request made for delegation in accordance with procedures established. The delegation may be reviewed by the Authority or withdrawn.

Policies for Programmes

The Authority shall establish and publish policies and criteria for access, transfer, or progression in relation to learners. Each provider is to establish procedures for access, transfer, and progression in accordance with the procedures. The procedures shall include procedures for credit accumulation, credit transfer, identification, formal assessment of knowledge, skills, and competence.

A draft of the procedures is to be submitted to the Authority in all cases other than for a previously established university. The Authority may refuse approval or vary the terms of approval.

The Authority may review the implementation of the programs of providers and must do so every seven years. It may give directions following reviews. It may withdraw approval following such reviews. Procedures apply.

International Educatio Mark

The Authority prepares a code of practice for the provision of programs to international learners for the approval of the use of the international education mark. The codes are to provide for arrangements for the protection of learners, collection of fees and requirements in relation to tax compliance of providers.

The international education mark is designed to indicate that the provider complies with the code of practice. A provider must at least have

  • established procedures for quality assurance,
  • procedures for access, transfer and progression and
  • provision for an award within the national framework recognised by the Authority.

Providers who do not have the power to make awards must have quality assurance and procedures for access, transfer and progression.

There is an annual charge for use of the international education mark. The Authority may review compliance providers’ use of the mark.

Protection of Learners

There are provisions for the protection of enrolled learners. Approved providers must have arrangements in relation to the protection of enrolled learners. In particular, this must cover monies paid in the event of the institution’s insolvency or cessation of the provision of the program.

There must be arrangements between the provider and two other providers whereby enrolled learners may be transferred to a similar program or arrangements in place to enable the provider to refund the learner fees, including tuition fees, examination fees, library fees, registration fees etc.

The above provision does not apply to the universities, the institutes of technology, FAS/SOLAS, #, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, the ETBs and recognised schools.

Information for Learners

Providers are to furnish information to learners prior to commencement of training or education and acceptance of fees, including

  • the name of the awarding body,
  • the title of the award,
  • recognition of the award,
  • level of the award,
  • quality assurance procedures applicable,
  • arrangements in relation to insolvency.


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