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Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance System

The technological higher education sector in Ireland operates within a robust national and internationally benchmarked quality assurance system.  The system is underpinned by national legislation, the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012.  It is also informed by, and compliant with the standards adopted in the European Higher Education Area under the Bologna Process.  

Under this system the Institutes are responsible for their own internal quality assurance processes, information on which is available at the following links:

The statutory  responsibility for the external quality assurance of all public higher education institutions  in Ireland resides with the national agency, Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI).  Under its legislative remit,  QQI is responsible for the establishment of the policy framework under which external quality assurance operates, including the development and publication of statutory quality assurance guidelines (QAG)  for providers.  QQI classifies these guidelines under three categories: Core, Sector Specific and Topic Specific. The  relevant QAG documents for the Technological Higher Education sector are:

Core

Core Statutory QAG developed by QQI for use by all Providers

Sector Specific

Statutory QAG developed by QQI for Institutes of Technology

Statutory QAG developed by QQI for Designated Awarding Bodies

Topic Specific

Statutory QAG developed by QQI for Providers of Statutory Apprenticeship Programmes

Statutory QAG developed by QQI for Providers of Research Degree Programmes

Statutory QAG developed by QQI for Providers of Blended Learning Programmes

 

AQRs and Institutional Review

The external dimension of quality assurance is completed through two inter-linked processes: an annual reporting system known as the Annual Quality Review and a cyclical system of institutional review. AQRs are submitted to QQI through an online facility, and the reports for each institution are published.  A summary of the AQRs, covering all of the publicly regulated higher education institutions, is all also published annually.

The current cycle of institutional reviews, known as CINNTE, commenced in 2017.  A cyclical review handbook for Institutes of Technology and designated awarding bodies (including DIT) have been published.  The terms of reference for Cinnte reviews of the Institutes of Technology and Designated Awarding Bodies are also published. An addendum for Technological Universities has been developed.

Delegation of Authority to Make Awards, and Designated Awarding Bodies

Providers with delegated authority are awarding bodies that make their own awards within the scope of the authority delegated by QQI under the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012. Until 2019, thirteen of the (then) fourteen Institutes of Technology operated under this legislative arrangement, through which they were enabled to establish their own award brands, and to exercise autonomy in establishing programmes leading to these awards. The Quality and Qualfications (Education and Training) (Amendment) Act 2019 established Institutes of Technology as automonous Designated Awarding Bodies up to NFQ Level 9, i.e., for all awards other than Doctoral Awards. Technological Universities are Designated Awarding Bodies for all awards up to NFQ Level 10, i.e., including Docotral Awards.

QQI has published general Criteria and Procedures relating to Delegation of Authority that set out the parameters under which it is granted.  Also relevant are QQI's Policy and Criteria for the Delegation of Authority to the Institutes of Technology to make Higher Education and Training Awards (including Joint Awards).THEA has developed and published two sectoral protocols concerning delegated authority in the Technological HIgher Education sector. They relate specifically to Level 9 Research Programmes and Programmes leading to Joint Awards.

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