Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training
The Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) was established on 11 June 2001 under the Qualifications (Education and Training) Act, 1999. It is the single national awarding body for the further education and training sector in Ireland and is now responsible for making awards that were previously made by CERT (now Fáilte Ireland), FÁS, the National Council for Vocational Awards (NCVA) and Teagasc. FETAC makes awards to learners on a vast range of programmes offered by providers of many different types. In order to ensure confidence in its awards, FETAC is implementing comprehensive strategy to assure the quality of the programmes leading to awards. The strategy involves the coordinated application of three separate functions.
Approaches and Methods for Quality Assurance
Firstly, all providers offering FETAC awards are required to have a quality assurance system agreed by FETAC. To do this, a provider will need to be able to demonstrate its capacity to monitor, evaluate and improve the quality of programmes and services it offers to learners.
Secondly, FETAC validates programmes submitted by providers whose quality assurance procedures have been agreed. Validation is the process by which FETAC evaluates a programme, before it is delivered, to ensure that it can provide a learner with the opportunity to achieve a specified award.
Thirdly, FETAC monitors and evaluates programmes. Monitoring is a multi-faceted system of gathering information on providers’ programmes, services and the quality assurance systems which support them. If the evaluation of this information indicates it is necessary, then either the validation of the programme or the agreement of the quality assurance procedures can be reviewed.
On the 6th November 2012, the Minister for Education and Skills announced the formal establishment of Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), the amalgamated qualifications and quality assurance authority. QQI replaces the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI), the Further Education and Training Awards Council of Ireland (FETAC), and the Higher Education Training and Awards Council (HETAC). It will also take over functions of the Irish Universities Quality Board.
The new authority will assume all the functions of these four bodies. These include managing the National Framework of Qualifications, quality assuring institutions of further and higher education and training, validating educational programmes and making awards to learners. New functions include the development of a Code of Practice and International Education Mark for institutions enrolling international learners.