Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn TD has today published a Bill aimed at the amalgamation of education and training bodies.
In approving the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Bill, 2011, Government opted against proceeding with the previous administration's decision to dissolve the National University of Ireland.
The Bill provides for the amalgamation of the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI), the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC) and the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC).
The amalgamation is included in the Programme for Government.
The new body will have the official title of the Qualifications and Quality Assurance Authority of Ireland (QQAAI) but "may have a different operational title", according to a statement.
The QQAAI will also take responsibility for all areas of further and higher education and training, including the external quality assurance review of the universities, a function which is currently performed by the Irish Universities Quality Board.
“This Bill is an important step in ensuring an overall coherent approach to qualifications and quality assurance in education and training and in enhancing Ireland’s reputation in this field,” said Minister Quinn.
“The amalgamating agencies have performed well over the last decade and have been an important force for change in their respective sectors. It is now time to bring their related functions together to deliver a better and more cost effective service.”
The Bill also provides for a code of practice for the provision of educational services to international students.
Education and training providers will be able to apply for an international education mark based on their compliance with the code of practice.
Minister Quinn said: “Through the provisions of this Bill, we will prioritise the needs of learners, including those who have chosen to come to Ireland to study.
“I want to ensure that lifelong learning opportunities are opened up for all and that the possibilities for learners contained in the National Framework of Qualifications are fully realised.”