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Quality Assurance Guidelines

Under the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012, QQI is required to develop and publish guidelines for providers for the quality assurance (QA) of their programmes and services.  We have established an overall structure and approach towards the development of these statutory quality assurance guidelines set out in the diagram found here. All guidelines published are statutory guidelines. The guidelines should be read in conjunction with QQI's policy on quality assurance guidelines.

The overall structure involves core QA Guidelines which capture in one place those elements which are fundamental and common to all providers associated with QQI. Sector and topic-specific QA guidelines are additional guidelines on specific areas beyond the core and may or may not apply to individual providers. Given the variety of providers operating in Ireland it is necessary for us to produce a range of different types of QA guidelines.

An integral part of the development process of QQI’s QA guidelines is our consultation with stakeholders.  More details about our consultation processes can be found here. The original feedback responses, where the authors have given permission for QQI to publish, are available here.  QQI’s response to submissions and to the feedback received at a number of QQI-led direct consultation events has been published in the Feedback Report here and is available in our previous consultation section.

Impact on Providers

Providers are primarily responsible for quality assuring their own programmes.  In doing so, providers are required by legislation to "have regard to QQI guidelines" in developing their own procedures for quality assurance. In some instances for example programme validation, providers’ QA procedures must be approved by us as being fit-for-purpose. A provider's scale and scope of activity will determine the level of complexity of it's QA procedures.

Policy on QA Guidelines

QQI's approach to quality assurance guidelines is set out in the policy on Quality Assurance Guidelines.  It also refers to guiding principles underpinning the development of a provider's QA procedures. This policy was originally published in December 2014 and was revised in April 2016.

Core QA Guidelines

QQI has developed Core QA Guidelines for use by all providers of higher and further education and training and English language provides.  All providers will have regard to these guidelines when developing their internal quality assurance procedures. The core QA guidelines capture in one place those elements which are fundamental and common to all providers.  They have been informed by previous QA guidelines from further and higher education and training and by the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area, May 2015 (also available in Irish) and the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework.

The core QA Guidelines do not prescribe the manner in which providers must implement their QA procedures. They should always  be considered in conjunction with QQI’s Policy on QA Guidelines and the sector and topic-specific guidelines as appropriate (see below).

Sector-Specific QA Guidelines

QQI is developing a range of QA guidelines which are specific to certain sectors.  These sector-specific guidelines are to be regarded as a supplement to the core QA Guidelines. They add to the core QA guidelines by addressing specific responsibilities of the sector or institutions they refer to. They are designed to capture the varying relationships we have with the different groups of providers and the standing that those provider groups are afforded by virtue of their position as reflected in the legislation.  The published guidelines include:

Sector-Specific Quality Assurance Guidelines for Private and Independent Providers

Sector- Specific Quality Assurance Guidelines for Designated Awarding Bodies

Sector- Specific Quality Assurance Guidelines  for Institutes of Technology

The guidelines for Education and Training Boards (ETBs) are currently in development.

Topic-Specific QA Guidelines

In addition to the Core and Sector-Specific QA Guidelines, providers may also need to refer to Topic-Specific QA Guidelines. These apply to a particular topic or type of provision.  This includes topics that are optional for providers depending upon the range and type of their provision. The first of these published guidelines is:

Topic-Specific Statutory Quality Assurance Guidelines for providers of Statutory Apprenticeship Programmes

A number of further Topic-Specific QA Guidelines are currently in development and will be published shortly. These include guidelines on Flexible and distributed learning and guidelines for research degrees.

Other QA Guidelines and Policies

In the meantime, the following documents continue to apply: