Further and higher education qualifications


Different bodies are entitled to award or validate qualifications in the further and higher education sectors. Further education and training is education and training between post-primary level and higher education. Higher education and training is provided mainly in universities and colleges of technology or equivalent bodies.

  • Universities:The State-supported universities all award their own degrees and other awards.
  • Technological sector: Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) also makes its own awards. 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 their awards are not validated by any outside body.

Quality and Qualifications Ireland

Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) was established on 6 November 2012 under the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012. 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)

The NQAI was, among other things, responsible for establishing and maintaining the National Framework of Qualifications, establishing procedures for the councils and deciding on procedures to be implemented by the education providers in relation to access, transfer and progression. The Qualifications Recognition service at the NQAI included the recognition of foreign qualifications and the International Qualifications Database.

The IUQB was responsible for quality assurance in the Irish university sector. It conducted regular external reviews of quality procedures in Irish universities.


The two awarding bodies - the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) and the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC) - were the certification bodies for all of the education and training in the State other than that in primary and post-primary education and in the universities and the Dublin Institute of Technology. HETAC could delegate authority to institutes of technology to make higher education and training awards. There was a similar facility within FETAC.

The principal functions of FETAC and HETAC were:

  • The establishment of policies and criteria for the making of awards
  • The validation of programmes in further or higher education and training
  • The setting of standards of knowledge, skill or competence which must be acquired by learners, before an award may be made

Awards and qualifications formerly made by FETAC and HETAC continue to be recognised, because they are on the National Framework of Qualifications. If you are enrolled on a programme leading to a FETAC or HETAC award, your award will now be made by Quality and Qualifications Ireland.

Transfer and progression

All providers of education and training need to inform learners of the transfer and progression routes that are available for them if they undertake a particular course.

Validation of individual learning

Individual learners may also approach QQI directly to seek certification or recognition for their existing knowledge, skill or competence. It will be a matter for QQI to 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.

Protection for learners

There are specific provisions for the protection of learners where a provider operates programmes of education and training on a commercial and profit-making basis. Such programmes will not be recognised by QQI unless there are provisions in place to ensure that the provider can provide an alternative place in another institution, or has a reserve fund or is adequately insured.

Where to apply

Quality and Qualifications Ireland

26/27 Denzille Lane
Dublin 2

Tel: (01) 905 8100
Page edited: 22 August 2019