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Awards & Accrediations

Awards and Accreditation

Quality Assurance of Courses – The National Framework of Qualifications

The introduction of the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) in October 2003 was the end result of a long and detailed process involving significant national and international research and undertaken in close consultation with a wide range of stakeholders.

This learner-centred framework, which is transparent and readily understandable, relates all education and training awards (Colleges, Institutes of Technology, Universities) made in Ireland to each other. In doing so, it brings coherence to the awards system. It establishes clearly defined standards about the quality of awards and about what a learner can be expected to achieve for each award. It introduces a new approach to the meaning of an award, that an award will recognise learning outcomes – what a person with an award knows, can do and understands – rather than time spent on a programme. It also shifts the emphasis of the awards system from the maintenance of existing systems and structures to meeting the needs of learners.

As a result of the framework, learners, employers and others will be able to compare Irish qualifications more easily and accurately with those from other countries.

This is becoming easier with the introduction of  'Diploma Supplements'. These are supplements to full awards that list all modules taken, results and credits, and are issued to all graduates of full awards within three months of graduation.

National Framework of Qualifications

Placement of Awards on the NFQ

Our programmes have been reviewed to ensure that they meet the standards defined in the NFQ. Programmes have been examined by expert external peer review groups and have now been validated for the new awards.

Delegation of Authority

The Institute of Technology Blanchardstown has been granted Delegated Authority from Quality & Qualifications Ireland (QQI - the body with awarding and quality assurance responsibilities previously governed by HETAC ) to make awards to suitable candidates.

European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System is a student-centred system based on the student workload required to achieve the objectives of a programme with objectives preferably specified in competences to be acquired.

Placement of Awards on the NFQ is as follows:

Doctoral Degree 10 Doctoral Degree
Masters Degree 9 Masters Degree
Graduate Diploma
(first stage of a Masters Degree)
9 Postgraduate Diploma
Graduate Diploma
(stand alone/conversion award)
8 Higher Diploma
Bachelor Degree 8 Honours Bachelor Degree
National Diploma 7 Ordinary Bachelor Degree
National Certificate 6 Higher Certificate

The changes that have taken place involve changes in the standards of programmes and changes in the structure of awards as follows:

  • The NFQ consists of ten levels, ranging from basic literacy to PhD. Each level is described in terms of the standards of knowledge, skill or competence that a learner must achieve before being eligible for an award.
  • The structure of awards has changed to replace two-year National Certificates with Higher Certificates, three-year National Diplomas with Ordinary Bachelor Degrees and four-year Degree Courses with Honours Bachelor Degrees.

The set-up: How Courses are Structured

The academic year is divided into two sections, called semesters, the first semester begins in September and the second at the end of January.

Courses are delivered in modules, each generally lasting one semester. They are assessed during and / or at the end of each semester. Under the Quality & Qualifications Ireland (QQI – the body with awarding and quality assurance responsibilities previously governed by HETAC) Accumulation of Credits and Certification of Subjects (ACCS) Scheme, credits earned for individual modules retain their validity indefinitely. This brings added flexibility to education – you can qualify for an award either by taking a compact full-time course, or by spreading your studies over a longer period and taking the modules part-time as suits you best.

The Institute of Technology sector is structured to allow students progress as far as they want through the educational system, receiving a qualification at each stage. For example, a student may start by studying for a Higher Certificate (usually completed in two years or four semesters), and after achieving that award, may then progress to an Ordinary Bachelor Degree (usually an extra year or two semesters). With an Ordinary Bachelor Award, students may progress to an Honours Bachelor Degree, which in turn is the next step to a Masters Degree or even a Doctorate.

Other courses are structured to allow students proceed directly to an Ordinary Bachelor Degree over three years (Ab Initio Ordinary Bachelor Degree courses) or directly to Honours Bachelor Degree over four years or for some courses five years (Ab Initio Honours Bachelor Degree courses). Depending on your circumstances, it may also be possible to pursue subsequent courses in a part-time mode.

Applications for first year of full-time courses are processed through the Central Applications Office (CAO). Applications for add-on Ordinary Bachelor Degree and add-on Honours Bachelor Degree Applications are also processed through the Central Applications Office (CAO). Post Graduate courses, Work Based Programmes, and Fee Paying Places are made directly to TU Dublin.