Building on existing good practice, Donegal ETB developed a Quality Assurance (QA) policy framework. This policy approach interprets and reflects former FETAC and current QQI requirements, builds in Donegal ETB’s own QA requirements, while augmenting existing organisational quality assurance policies and practice. In this way, the approach is a process which builds on the Donegal ETB quality ethos.
The establishment of qualification bodies allows for the official Certification, and also national and international recognition, of skills, knowledge and competencies achieved through education and training.
National Framework of Qualifications
The National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) has been designed to allow learners to compare and classify qualifications across ten levels ranging from the very initial stages of learning to the most advanced stages. Each level is based on nationally agreed standards of what an individual is expected to know, understand and be able to do following successful completion of a programme of learning.
An awarding body is a national body that has the authority to award you a qualification in order to recognise your learning. There are a number of national awarding bodies that have their awards included in the NFQ such as Quality and Qualifications Ireland and the State Examination Commission (SEC) which accredits the Junior and Leaving Certificate. Awarding bodies such as City and Guilds and specific professional industry qualifications in Ireland and the UK have also been included in the NFQ.
The NFQ can help you make informed decisions about which level of course is appropriate for you and to make it easier for you to explain the qualifications you hold and those you are studying for. This becomes very important when you are considering further learning or entering employment both here in Ireland and abroad.
Common Award System
At each level of the NFQ there is at least one of the following award types:
- Major Award – the main class of award made at each level which entails significant learning e.g. the Junior/Leaving Certificate, QQI Certificate and Degree.
- Minor Award – provides recognition for learners who achieve a range of learning outcomes but not the specific learning outcomes required for a Major Award. These awards allow learners to build up units of learning at their own pace. These units of learning are called Component Certificates.
- Special Purpose Award – provides recognition for a specific purpose e.g. Safe Pass certification for health and safety in the construction industry.
- Supplementary Award – for learning which is additional to a previous award and are used for updating specific skills and for professional development.
NFQ is linked to similar frameworks in Europe. This helps people considering employment or study opportunities outside Ireland to check the equivalence of their qualification in another European country. There are two qualifications frameworks at European level.
- The Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area, also known as the ‘Bologna Framework’. This deals with higher education awards (NFQ 6-10).
- The European Qualifications Framework (EFQ), which deals with all NFQ levels including schools, further education and training and higher education.
Qualifications Recognition Service
QQI offers a free Qualifications Recognition Advice Service for those seeking guidance on the academic recognition of awards obtained outside the Irish system. QQI have also developed a system for professional bodies to have their awards recognized in the NFQ.
Awards and Accreditation offered by Donegal ETB
Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI)
QQI was established in 2012 as a new integrated agency responsible for the external quality assurance of further and higher education and training and validates programmes and makes awards for certain providers in these sectors. QQI is also responsible for the maintenance, development and review of the National Framework of Qualifications.
QQI has replaced the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) as the national awarding body for further education and training and the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC) as the national awarding body for higher education and training. From the first certification period of 2015, the wording on certificates will be designated as follows:
- QQI Award – Further Education and Training Award (for further education and training qualifications at levels 1-6 of the National Framework of Qualifications).
- QQI Award – Higher Education and Training Award (for higher education and training qualifications at levels 6-10 of the National Framework of Qualifications).
Holders of all FETAC and HETAC awards issued prior to the establishment of QQI will continue to be recognized at the appropriate levels of the National Framework of Qualifications.
QQI is the main awarding body for courses accredited by Donegal ETB. As the statutory provider of further education and training in Donegal, we offer Major and Minor QQI Awards at levels 1-6 on the National Framework of Qualifications.
In the list of courses offered by Donegal ETB you will see major and minor awards mentioned in the course description.
QQI requires that a specified number of credits be achieved in order for a student to be conferred with a particular award. Course components carry different credit values ranging from 5 to 30 points based on the work required to complete a component certificate. When a learner studies for a major award, the programme of learning must provide a minimum number of credits at each level. The table below shows the number of credits required to attain a major award at levels 1 to 6. A learner may be conferred with a minor award where the number of credits attained does not meet the minimum required for a major award.
City & Guilds
City & Guilds are a leading vocational education and training organisation, providing services to training providers, employers, and trainees across a variety of sectors to meet the needs of today’s workplace. City & Guilds offer thousands of vocational qualifications and apprenticeships that are valued by employers and delivered through over 10,000 training centres across the world. City & Guilds courses help individuals develop their talents and abilities for future career progression.
Professional and Industrial Qualifications
Donegal ETB Training Services offers specific industrial and professional qualifications that are required for employment in specific employment sectors. These courses provide students with the knowledge, skills and competencies required to meet the demands of specific jobs. Examples of popular sector specific training includes: Information Technology Beauty Therapist, Outdoor Activity Instructor and Access to Offshore training.