10 October, 2018 - Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Bill 2018 completes second stage in Seanad Éireann

Minister Mitchell O’Connor welcomed the completion of second stage of the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Bill 2018 in Seanad Éireann.

This Bill will amend the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act2012 which established Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), the national agency with responsibility for external quality assurance and qualifications across the further and higher education sectors.

The Minister said, “This Bill will provide for important legislative reforms that will strengthen QQI in its regulatory role, and enable it to maintain and enhance the quality of educational provision across Ireland’s further and higher education system. It will also assist in delivering on a number of key priorities for my Department.

In particular, the Bill provides for the introduction of the International Education Mark (IEM). This is a key element of the Government’s International Education Strategy which will see the value of this sector grow by one third to €2.1 Billion over the lifetime of the strategy.  Providers who meet the robust quality assurance procedures of QQI will be allowed to carry the Mark. This will send a clear signal to students about the quality of education and training they can expect to receive”.

The Bill also contains measures to establish a new national Learner Protection Fund.  This Fund will strengthen the existing system of learner protection and benefit students by ensuring that they are allowed to finish their programmes of education and training in the event that their programme ceases prematurely.

Other key provisions of the Bill will enable QQI to address the issue of academic cheating, to examine the corporate governance of providers, and to establish the Institutes of Technology as Designated Awarding Bodies, allowing IoTs more autonomy over the range of programmes they deliver up to and including masters degrees.

The Bill will return to the Seanad for Committee stage in November. “I am looking forward to returning to the Seanad in November for the next important step in the legislative process and to further advance this important piece of legislation that will strengthen the quality of our further and higher education sectors”

The Bill is available on the Oireachtas website at the following link.