Further and higher education qualifications

Who awards further and higher education qualifications?

Further education and training covers education and training after post-primary level and up to higher education.

Higher education and training is provided mainly in universities and colleges of technology or equivalent bodies.

Different bodies are entitled to award or validate qualifications in the further and higher education sectors such as:

  • Universities:The State-supported universities all award their own degrees and other awards.
  • Technological sector: The institutes of technology grant degrees, diplomas and certificates which are validated by Quality and Qualifications Ireland.
  • Other colleges: The other State-supported colleges generally grant awards that are validated by Quality and Qualifications Ireland.
  • Private colleges: The private colleges make awards, some of which are validated by foreign universities and some of which are validated by Quality and Qualifications Ireland. Some of the awards by private colleges are not validated by any outside body.

Quality and Qualifications Ireland

Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) is the state agency responsible for promoting the quality, integrity and reputation of the further and higher education system in Ireland.

It has taken over the functions of the following 4 bodies:

  • National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI)
  • Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC)
  • Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC)
  • Irish Universities Quality Board (IUQB)

If you have an award or qualification made by FETAC and HETAC, these continue to be recognised because they are on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).

The National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)

The NFQ describes what you need to know about qualifications as a learner. It allows you to compare qualifications, to make decisions about your choice of course and to know that it will be recognised in Ireland and abroad. The framework is made up of 10 levels from certificate to doctoral level and describes qualifications across the Irish education and training system.

Transfer and progression

All providers of education and training must inform you of the transfer and progression routes available if you undertake a particular course. This will help you find a pathway between programmes or courses to achieve the award and qualification you want.

Validation of individual learning

As an individual learner, you can contact QQI directly to find out how to get certification or recognition for your existing knowledge, skill or competence. QQI will decide how this prior learning and prior experience can be assessed and they may look for help and advice from the providers of education and training in making this assessment.

When you apply to a college they may take into account your educational background, work history, community involvement and other achievements when deciding your suitability for the course. This system is known as the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) or Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

Verification of previous awards

You can apply to QQI to verify your qualifications for the following awards:

  • QQI
  • NCEA (replaced by HETAC)
  • NCVA (replaced by FETAC)

There is a small fee for this service.

Recognition of awards from abroad

If you earned your qualifications abroad, QQI has an online foreign qualifications recognition service (NARIC). You can also read more about recognition of professional qualifications.

Protection for learners

QQI will only validate programmes that provide protections for the learner.

If a provider has a programme of 3 months or more and charges a fee, they must ensure you can complete the course you have started if they stop offering the programme for any reason. The provider must also have a reserve fund and be adequately insured.

Further information

Quality and Qualifications Ireland

26/27 Denzille Lane
Dublin 2

Tel: (01) 905 8100
Page edited: 20 June 2023