The Qualification and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Bill 2011 was published on 21st July 2011 and was presented to the Oireachtas by the Minister for Education and Skills.
Once enacted as an act it will provide for the establishment of a body called the Qualifications and Quality Assurance Authority of Ireland (QQAAI). However, once established the Authority may choose an alternative name to be known by.
The QQAAI will take over the roles of and effectively operate as an amalgamation of the:-
1. National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI)
2. Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC)
3. Further Educational and Training Awards Council (FETAC) ; and
4. Irish Universities Quality Board (IUQB).
The act will officially dissolve the NQAI, HETAC and FETAC. The act will provide for the continuity of functions of the old authority, councils and board under the QQAAI. For example institutional reviews of Irish Universities commenced by IUQB will continue under QQAAI and Institutes of Technology making their own awards at specified levels under delegated authority from HETAC will continue to do so under the new legislation.
The Bill has extensive provisions some of which:-
1. Set out the functions of the QQAAI
2. Provide for the standards of awards and the maintenance and implementation of the framework of qualifications (this replaces the NQAI and the repeals the Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 1999 (and also the regulations made in relation to that act) and section 35 of the Universities Act 1997)
3. Provide that the Authority will publish a code of practice in respect of regulation and provision of education to international learners in the State. Provisions will be put in place for the international recognition of Irish awards and Ireland’s recognition of international awards. Education providers will be able to apply for an international education mark. The international education mark will be established by the Authority to indicate compliance with the code of practice
4. Provide for arrangements for the protection of enrolled learners in circumstances where the course ceases before completion
5. Provide for a register of providers to be established and maintained by the Authority
6. State that the Authority shall establish a database providing information on programmes and awards recognised within the framework
7. Provide for Institutes of Technology, to which authority has been delegated to make awards, to have a charter. The Minister will make regulations specifying what the charter must include
8. Set out various saving and transitional provisions.
The bill is yet to progress through the Oireachtas and may not be enacted until 2012 at the earliest.
For further information please contact Harry Fehily, Managing Partner.