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Ireland. VET in Europe – Country Report 2011 - Europa

Ireland. VET in Europe – Country Report 2011 - Europa

learners, before an

learners, before an award may be made by a Council or recognised by a Council.• The making and recognition of awards where persons have achieved the requiredstandards.Ireland was one of the first Member States in the EU to have a National Framework ofQualifications (NFQ). Ireland’s NFQ was introduced in 2003 as the key element in a broad reformof the system of qualifications in Ireland, arising out of the 1999 Qualifications (Education andTraining) Act. It is the single structure through which Irish qualifications can be defined andcompared. The Framework is based on learning outcomes, organised around the concepts ofknowledge, skill and competence. The NFQ is an important step in meeting the needs of a lifelonglearning community with more diverse learners who have different learning needs. A key elementof the NFQ is to improve access (entry) to education and training, transfer within and betweeneducation and training and progression within and between education and training.The NFQ comprises ten levels of qualifications, with each level based on nationally agreedstandards, skills and competence. These standards define the learning outcomes to be achieved bylearners seeking qualifications at each level. The ten levels include qualifications gained in settingsfrom schools, to places of work, the community, training centres and to colleges and universities,from basic literacy awards to doctoral degrees. The framework includes many existingqualifications and values those awards made in the past. Awarding bodies will also develop newqualifications within the NFQ. These new qualifications will be made on the basis of ‘learningoutcomes’ defined in terms of standards of knowledge, skill and competence. The outcomes-basednature of qualifications in the framework is a significant change from the input-based (e.g. timeserved) nature of qualifications prior to the introduction of the NFQ. Learning outcomes continue tobe introduced into standard setting, programme design and into teaching, learning and assessment.They are incorporated in to all new awards in the Framework.A major objective of the NFQ is the recognition of all learning achievements whether throughformal, non-formal or informal learning. It aims to do this by supporting the development ofalternative pathways to qualifications (or awards) and by promoting the recognition of priorlearning. Ireland is one of a few countries where full awards can be gained by recognition of priorlearning although cases where full awards are given are the exception; the greatest use ofrecognition of prior learning is directed at entry and credits or exemptions.A diagram of the National Framework of Qualification can be viewed by clicking on the followinglink which shows the various awards and levels within the National Framework of Qualifications.The existing and former awards placed on the Framework are also listed in the outer segments ofthe fan structure, as well as the various bodies making awards in the Framework, such as FETACand HETAC. has now completed the process of referencing the Irish NFQ to the European QualificationsFramework (EQF) and Ireland’s NFQ was referenced to the Bologna Framework in 2006.Ireland also participated in and actively contributed to the debate concerning the development of aEuropean Credit System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET), an EU initiative toimprove the transparency of vocational qualifications within and between Member States. Theapproach to ECVET has many parallels with the Irish approach to qualifications frameworks,credits and VET in general. The NQAI and its partners the awarding Councils FETAC and HETACare currently working towards a national approach to credit that will facilitate a seamless transferbetween further education and training and higher education and training, similar to the approachfor the ECVET system. The credit system currently being introduced by FETAC - the Common22

Awards System is also compatible with ECVET. By 2014 every FETAC award will be part of thissystem.The EU-wide Europass programme, (, which helps people make their skills andqualifications more easily understood in Europe and promotes geographic mobility for learners, wasofficially launched in Ireland in November 2005. The National Europass Centre (NEC) wasestablished in the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI). The role of the NEC is topromote and develop the Europass programme in Ireland, and to act as an information point forboth learners and employers looking for access to mobility documentation on VET qualificationsand experience. The provision of this mobility documentation has become an obligatoryrequirement for those who receive funding for exchange visits and study and work placementsunder the Leonardo da Vinci Mobility programmes. With this provision in place, NEC expects asignificant increase in the number of mobility documents issued to learners from 2010.2.3 Internationalisation and transnational mobility in VET2.3.1. Policy framework for internationalisation and transnational mobility in VETIn 2009 the Government established a new framework for the promotion, quality assurance andcoordination of international education. Enterprise Ireland was given sole responsibility for thepromotion and branding of international higher education, while the National QualificationsAuthority of Ireland was given responsibility for quality assurance, including the recognition ofEnglish-language programmes and management of the internationalisation register (which regulateslabour market access by non-EEA students) pending the establishment of a new Quality Mark forinternational education. The Government also established the High-Level Group (HLG) onInternational Education and gave it responsibility for national co-ordination and the development ofan international education strategy. The HLG comprises representatives of the relevant GovernmentDepartments and State agencies as well as the university, institute of technology and Englishlanguage sectors.The Government launched the HLG’s report - Investing in Global Relationships 13 Ireland’sInternational Education Strategy 2010-15, in September 2010. The Strategy states that as itsprimary objective, Ireland will become internationally recognised and ranked as a world leader inthe delivery of high-quality international education by providing a unique experience and long-termvalue to students. The Government also launched a new immigration regime for internationalstudents - reforming entry requirements but imposing safeguards to prevent abuse of the system atthe same time. The international education strategy and the new student immigration rules weredeveloped in tandem and are mutually complementary.The strategy sets out 10 strategic actions to improve Ireland’s performance, including a partnershipbasedapproach between Government and the education sectors and a rejuvenated nationaleducation brand which is being managed by Enterprise Ireland. The strategy is available Investing in Global Relationships, Report of the High-Level Group on International Education to the Tánaiste andMinister for Education and Skills, September 2010.23

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