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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Quality assurance in adult education and training


11.Quality assurance

11.3Quality assurance in adult education and training

Last update: 21 June 2022

Responsible bodies

The Directorate for Research, Lifelong Learning and Employability is the main public provider of adult education. Jobsplus, the national employment agency, and other public and private providers may also provide adult education and training. TheAregulation and external quality assurance of adult education falls within the remit of the National Commission for Further and Higher Education.

The Ministry for Education has organised its quality assurance, in adult education and training, by making educational establishments responsible for their own internal quality assurance and delegating external quality assurance to the National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE).

Approaches and methods for quality assurance

National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE)

Following on from its precursor, the National Commission for Higher Education (NHCE), which was established in 2008, the National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE) was officially launched on the 14th September, 2012 and is legislated by the revised Education Act which came into force on the 1st August 2012. The NCFHE’s mission statement is "to foster the development and achievement of excellence in further and higher education in Malta through research, effective licensing, accreditation, quality assurance and recognition of qualifications established under the Malta Qualifications Framework." Thus, NCFHE focuses on: 

  • Maintaining a register of authorised and accredited institutions and programmes available in Malta; 
  • Recognition of programmes of study, whether home grown or foreign, by the Malta Qualifications Recognition Information Centre (MQRIC);
  • Providing external quality assurance of both educational institutions and programmes or courses;
  • Providing validation of informal and non-formal learning;
  • Carrying out research and policy recommendation on issues related to further and higher education;
  • Promoting structured dialogue between all Further and Higher education institutions; 
  • Developing a National Strategy for Further and Higher education; 
  • Preparing key performance indicators and benchmarking the sector against international developments.

NCFHE is an affiliate member of EN​QA, the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education. The Qualifications Recognition Information Centre (QRIC) within NCFHE also forms part of the European Network of Information Centres in the European Region (ENIC) and the National Recognition Information Centres in the European Union (NARIC). The Commission acts also as the National Contact Point for the European Qualifications Framework.

Throughout the years, NCFHE has been a regular contributor to the European forum regulating the European Qualifications Framework and European Meetings of the DG Higher Education, as well as representing Malta on the Europe​an Training Foundation Governing Board. More recently, the NCFHE is also participating on the European Working Group on Modernisation of Higher Education which supports EU member states reforms to maximise the potential of higher education systems.

Malta Qualifications Recognition Information Centre (MQRIC)

Another resulting setup is that of the Malta Qualification Recognition Information Centre (MQRIC) which was established through Legal Notice 196/2004. MQRIC is the competent national body, now incorporated within the NCFHE, that  recognises programmes of study against the Malta Qualifications Framework (MQF)​

It provides recognition and comparability of both academic and vocational programmes, using both the Malta Qualifications Framework (MQF) and the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) to provide recognition advice on both local and international programmes. It also assists in the recognition of Maltese programmes abroad. MQRIC is also the local official ENIC-NARIC centre in Malta and forms part of the ENIC-NARIC Network

In November 2006 the first draft of the NQF was launched for consultation with the completed report being launched in June 2007. In September 2009 MQRIC finalised a document on the Referencing of the MQF to the EQF and the Qualifications Framework of the European Higher Education Area. The document was presented to the Advisory Group of the European Qualifications Framework in September 2009 and launched for further consultation in Malta in November 2009. The document received favourable reviews from all Member States and social partners. During 2010 a system of awards linked to the Malta Qualifications Framework was established. The document entitled: Classifying Qualifications – a National Awards System referenced to the Malta Qualifications Framework was launched in December 2010.

The National Qualification Framework (NQF) was developed within a framework for lifelong learning and focuses on learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and competencies. The Framework provides learners with a map of all levels of qualifications, of entry and exit points at every level of qualification as well as the level of qualifications required by sector and occupation. Concurrently the Maltese NQF is meant to be a common reference point between industry, training providers and learners. Over the past years the NCFHE has published various policy documents for consultation on the framework of qualifications, quality assurance for vocational training, the validation of informal and non-formal education and a programme of studies of key competences for lifelong learning. It is intended that legislation still to be enacted will incorporate various aspects of these policies such as the validation of informal and non-formal learning.

External quality assurance

The National Quality Assurance Framework provides the conceptual context for NCFHE’s external quality assurance Procedures. In view of this, the NCFHE has developed the External Quality Audit Manual of procedures​, In line with the National Quality Assurance Framework, the external quality assurance process applies to all accredited further an higher education providers that are corporate entities.  The practice of external quality assurance means that it not enough that the entity has internal quality assurance systems on paper or simply statutory set up. The external quality assurance needs to check that these systems are fit for purpose, are in fact functioning and effective, and are sustainable.

External quality assurance is designed to be conducted in a way which reflects the relevant European and International standards, guidelines and criteria for external quality assurance and respect for international treaties and agreements relevant to further and higher education provision as ratified or endorsed by Malta. NCFHE offers its full support to educational institutions in following this process. 

Directorate for Research, Lifelong Learning and Employability

The Directorate for Research, Lifelong Learning and Employability (DRLLE) within the Ministry for Education is a state provider of academic and non-academic adult learning courses, which include:

- home-grown courses from MQF 1 to MQF4, accredited by NCFHE;

- introductory courses levels A and B within the Malta Qualification Framework (MQF)

- courses comparable to the MQF level rated courses that have not been accredited yet;

- revision lessons for courses organised by external examination entities;

- open practicing classes for students who have gained considerable experience in VET subjects.

The DRLLE is subject to a cyclic mandatory independent External Quality Assurance Audit, every five years, of its internal quality assurance against the eleven NCFHE Quality Assurance Standards. In this regard the first External Quality Assurance Audit was held in June 2018. The DRLLE commissioned the compilation of an internal quality assurance document purportedly to evaluate and appraise good practices within the Directorate that militate in favour of the Directorate’s quality assurance level. This document also proposed directions and recommendations, fit for purpose, that would steer the Directorate to full compliance with the NCFHE Standards. The IQA document was accepted by the External Audit Panel as a work in progress document that eventually would incorporate certain recommendations that emerged following the Audit Report of 2019.