The National Framework of Qualifications was launched in 2003. The following section provides an overview of the awards recognised through the Framework as at 30 March 2009.
The NFQ provides a structure (a framework) to compare and contrast the level and standard of different qualifications. This helps you to make informed decisions about your qualification choices and to consider progression opportunities available to you. The NFQ also makes it easier for you to explain to others what qualifications you hold, or are studying for. This becomes very important when you are considering further learning or when you are applying for a job - at home or abroad.
As a learner, you need to be aware of key questions you should ask to identify qualifications that are recognised through the NFQ. This information should be used to influence your education and training decisions for the future. The NFQ, illustrated by the “fan diagram” above is a system of ten levels. It is based on standards of knowledge, skill and competence and it incorporates awards made for all kinds of learning, wherever it is gained. School qualifications (awards) awarded by the State Examinations Commission, further education and training qualifications awarded by FETAC and higher education and training qualifications awarded by HETAC, DIT, other Institutes of Technology and the Universities are all included in the Framework.
Qualifications in the NFQ are quality assured. This means that you, the learner, can have confidence that your course, and the institution at which you are studying, are reviewed on an ongoing basis. Quality assurance is intended to ensure that all learners have a high quality learning experience regardless of where you are studying.
The European and international dimensions of the NFQ are also very important from a learner perspective. Increasingly, learners and workers are travelling to other countries for the purposes of accessing further learning or for entry to the labour market. All qualifications in the NFQ are recognised at home and abroad. The NFQ is used to compare Irish qualifications with foreign qualifications, thus, acting as a valuable tool for Irish citizens travelling abroad who wish to use their Irish qualifications. In addition, learners or workers travelling to Ireland with qualifications gained abroad can use the NFQ to have these qualifications recognised. The establishment of the European-wide Europass initiative and the Qualifications Recognition service are both significant in this respect.
School awards are made by the State Examinations Commission. The Junior Certificate and the Leaving Certificate awards are included in the Framework as follows:
Junior Certificate Level 3
Leaving Certificate Placed across Levels 4 and 5
The Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) is the national awarding body for further education and training. Its awards are included in the Framework from levels 1 to 6.
For further information on FETAC awards visit www.fetac.ie
HETAC / IOTs with Delegated Authority
The awards made by the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC) and the Institutes of Technology* which have been delegated authority to make awards by HETAC, are all included in the Framework from levels 6 to 10.
For further information on HETAC and providers accredited by HETAC visit www.hetac.ie
A listing of websites for the Institutes of Technology is available from Institutes of Technology Ireland www.ioti.ie
* The Institutes of Technology with delegated authority from HETAC to make awards at various levels are: Athlone Institute of Technology; Blanchardstown Institute of Technology; Carlow Institute of Technology; Cork Institute of Technology; Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology; Dundalk Institute of Technology; Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology; Letterkenny Institute of Technology; Limerick Institute of Technology; Sligo Institute of Technology; Tallaght; Institute of Technology; Tralee; Institute of Technology; Waterford Institute of Technology.
Dublin Institute of Technology
The awards made by the Dublin Institute of Technology are all included in the Framework from levels 6-10.
For further information on DIT awards visit www.dit.ie
There are eight universities in Ireland. They are: Dublin City University (DCU); National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG); National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUIM); Trinity College Dublin (TCD); University College Cork (UCC); University College Dublin UCD); University of Limerick (UL).
The National University of Ireland (NUI) also makes awards directly in the colleges it recognises. These are: the Institute of Public Administration (IPA); the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI); the National College of Art and Design (NCAD); Milltown Institute; and, the Shannon College of Hotel Management.
In July 2004 the following awards of the universities listed above and of the NUI were included in the Framework at the following levels:
Ordinary Bachelor Degree
Honours Bachelor Degree
In September 2008 the universities submitted listings of their major diplomas (i.e., Higher Diploma and Postgraduate Diploma awards) and their non-major awards (minor, supplemental and special purpose) for inclusion in the Framework. These lists, along with updates since provided by the universities, are available below:
The Authority executive is continuing to collaborate with the universities, the NUI, and the Irish Universities Association (IUA) to secure the inclusion in the Framework of the remainder of the universities’ current awards and the placement of the awards made prior to the introduction of the Framework (also termed 'legacy awards'). Further developments on this process will be posted to the website as they take place.
The Authority published its policies on the inclusion/alignment of the awards of professional bodies in 2006. The following professional bodies/awards have been recognised through the Framework:
The Authority agreed a policy approach in 2006 for the alignment of the qualifications of UK education and training awarding bodies (delivered in Ireland) with the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). The main purpose of aligning these qualifications is to provide learners with clear information regarding the qualification and the level at which it best fits on the Irish National Framework of Qualifications.
All of the UK qualifications that have been aligned with the National Framework of Qualifications are:
With the introduction of the NFQ in 2003, changes were made to the education system in Ireland which meant that some awards were discontinued. However, these awards are included in the NFQ as legacy awards.
Examples of legacy awards include awards made by awarding bodies prior to the establishment of FETAC and HETAC. An example of this is the National Diploma which is placed at Level 7 on the NFQ, which is the same level as the current award of the Ordinary Bachelor Degree.