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Frameworks of Qualifications: The Irish Experience Azerbaijan Seminar Baku, 12 th June 2007 Stuart Garvie National Qualifications Authority of Ireland. The presentation. the Irish context new legislation, new structures development of a National Framework of Qualifications

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Frameworks of Qualifications:The Irish ExperienceAzerbaijan SeminarBaku, 12th June 2007Stuart GarvieNational Qualifications Authority of Ireland

the presentation
The presentation
  • the Irish context
  • new legislation, new structures
  • development of a National Framework of Qualifications
  • Implementation of the Framework
  • The Framework and international development
the irish context
The Irish context
  • a small state – population 4.5 million (Azerbaijan 8 million)
  • centralised government
    • weak regional / local structures
  • separation of ‘Education’ and ‘Training’
    • across a range of government Departments
  • separation of previous qualifications systems
    • schools
    • further education
    • training: agriculture, tourism, fisheries, labour
    • higher education: institutes of technology, universities
focus of provision for learning in ireland
Focus of provision for learning in Ireland
  • historically on the needs of young people
    • investment of resources
    • design of systems and structures
  • a childhood-to-young adult, pre-employment experience
  • concentration on school-to-college and school-to-training development routes
  • demographic change: peak age cohort now app. 24 yrs.
a framework of qualifications why
A Framework of Qualifications – why?
  • a coherent national policy approach to qualifications
  • lifelong learning society
    • new kinds of work and career
    • need for a more flexible system of qualifications
    • need for portability of qualifications
  • international comparison and alignment
    • European policy trends and agreements – Lisbon, Copenhagen and
    • Bologna, European Qualifications Framework (EQF)
towards a coherent but flexible system
Towards a coherent but flexible system….

what is required?

  • a framework for the development, recognition and award of qualifications in Ireland
  • one framework to encompass all awards for all aspects of education and training
  • a simple, transparent frame of reference
new legislation new structures
New legislation, new structures
  • Qualifications (Education and Training) Act, 1999
  • three new organisations, 2001
    • National Qualifications Authority of Ireland
    • Further Education and Training Awards Council
    • Higher Education and Training Awards Council
  • awards Councils bring coherence to the system
    • replace seven previous systems of awards
    • one awarding body for all further education and training (VET)
the new structures
The new structures
  • National Qualifications Authority of Ireland
    • to develop and maintain a national framework of qualifications
    • a system for coordinating & comparing awards
    • awards based on outcomes - standards of knowledge, skill & competence
    • to promote access, transfer and progression – incl. arrangements for credit accumulation and transfer
  • two Awards Councils
    • to develop new systems of awards
    • to make awards at all levels in the Framework
developing the framework
Developing the Framework

A dual approach:

  • Strong legislative base: Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 1999
    • Sets out and legitimises general basis of framework
  • Consultation and Research
    • Identification of stakeholders: wide-ranging
      • - representatives of all sectors of education and training community; social partners; state agencies; learners
    • consensus-building and involvement of stakeholders:
      • Stakeholder views sought formally and given serious consideration
      • Consultative Group; also extensive series of bilateral and multilateral meetings
    • transparency
      • Communication of research findings, emerging policy approaches, decisions and determinations
the framework blueprint for change
The Framework: blueprint for change
  • a new concept of a ‘qualification’, or an ‘award’:
  • an award is a recognition of learning outcomes
    • not a recognition of participation in a programme or in any particular learning process
    • many programmes may lead to the same award
  • many new awards, new titles, new terminology
  • not a compendium of existing awards
  • not just a mapping of relationships between existing awards
  • no distinction made between ‘education’ and ‘training’
the framework in outline
The Framework in outline
  • a structure of 10 levels
  • each level based on a range of standards of knowledge, skill and competence
  • level indicators
  • Grid of 10 level indicators, defined in terms of 8 dimensions of knowledge, skill and competence
award types
Award-types
  • a central element in the Framework concept
  • a class of named awards – e.g. Honours Bachelor Degree, or National Craft Certificate (pre-Framework award)
  • one or more award-types at each level in the Framework
  • an initial set of 16 major award-types defined
classes of award type
Classes of award-type
  • award-types are defined in four classes
    • major award-types: for a typical range of outcomes at a level
    • also minor, supplemental and special-purpose award-types
  • all 16 award-types in the outline Framework are ‘major’
  • the Framework will eventually have a variety of award-types at each level.
named awards
Named awards
  • a ‘named award’ is what a learner receives
  • a named award is for achievement in a specific field of learning – e.g. Honours Bachelor Degree in Electrical Engineering, or National Craft Certificate: Electrician (pre-Framework award)
  • a named award is associated with a level in the Framework through the award-type to which it belongs
  • named awards to be developed by the awarding bodies
awards in the framework 1
Awards in the Framework - 1
  • new awards across all 10 levels
    • made by the awards Councils (FETAC and HETAC)
  • school and university awards are accommodated
    • general manner of inclusion is set out
  • policies and criteria published for inclusion in or alignment with the Framework for:
    • professional awards
    • international awards
awards in the framework 2
Awards in the Framework - 2
  • Major Awards: principal class of award made at a level
  • Minor Awards: are for partial completion of the outcomes for a Major Award
  • Supplemental Awards: are for learning that is additional to a Major Award
  • Special Purpose Awards are for relatively narrow or purpose-specific achievement
framework implementation i
Framework Implementation - I
  • FETAC has put in place arrangements for Framework awards at levels 1-6
  • Implementation arrangements in higher education announced in July 2004
    • being implemented from autumn 2004 and used in 2005 CAO
  • Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate included in the framework
framework implementation ii
Framework Implementation - II
  • HETAC
    • using interim standards for all award-types
    • delegating authority to make awards to institutes of technology
  • University existing awards aligned with major award-types
    • implemented for Ordinary Bachelor Degree, Honours Bachelor Degrees, Masters Degrees & Doctoral Degrees
    • Policy approach agreed
    • process underway within universities for Higher Diploma & Post-Graduate Diploma
    • process underway for ‘smaller’ award-types
  • DIT implementing all new major award-types; using some smaller ones
existing former qualifications
Existing & former qualifications
  • many familiar qualifications will no longer be awarded
  • intention is to map these qualifications to Framework levels
  • most existing and former qualifications now placed
framework and quality assurance i
Framework and Quality Assurance - I
  • An important dimension of Framework implementation: credibility of Framework dependent upon it
  • Statutory quality assurance arrangements in place for the following awarding bodies:
    • State Examinations Commission
    • FETAC
    • HETAC
    • Dublin Institute of Technology
    • Universities
framework and quality assurance ii
Framework and Quality Assurance - II
  • Authority works closely with stakeholders in developing and enhancing quality cultures across education and training system
    • Statutory quality role in relation to FETAC, HETAC, DIT
    • Consultative role in relation to HEA review of universities QA procedures
    • Encourage common approaches, best practice throughout system, e.g., through Irish Higher Education Quality Network
  • Also relevant to national policies on internationalisation of Irish education and training services
    • use of Framework (including dissemination of information on placement of awards and the associated quality assurance mechanisms) as part of the proposed Education Ireland Quality Mark
mobility for learners
A key objective in the legislation

lifelong learning implies a more diverse learning community

more diverse needs

to be able to gain an award in different ways, e.g. by accumulating credit for learning outcomes over time

opportunity for entry – transparent, fair and consistent entry arrangements

clarity about relationships between awards, and about transfer / progression routes

accurate and reliable information

task – to maximise opportunities for mobility for learners

Mobility for learners
improving mobility for learners
need for a cultural shift

need to focus the concept of access on the achievement of an award (not on entry to a programme)

need to focus measurement of success on outcomes rather than inputs (e.g. time spent on a programme)

a comprehensive strategy, published in October 2003

four policy strands: credit, progression routes, entry arrangements, information provision

Improving mobility for learners
the irish experience notable features
The Irish experience: notable features
  • Framework is part of a broad reform of the system of qualifications
  • New structures, new organisations
  • Dual approach – legislation and consultation
  • Framework contains new awards at all levels, but also many existing awards are included
  • Key concepts – level, level indicators, award-type, award-type descriptors, named award,
international or meta frameworks
International or Meta-Frameworks
  • Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area (adopted by European Ministers, Bergen 2005) - the ‘Bologna Framework’
    • verification of compatibility with the Irish national framework – completed November 2006
    • One of first two countries doing this on a “pilot basis”
  • European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning, (‘EQF’ - under development)
    • triggered by an Irish EU Presidency conference
    • proposal for basic structure nearing completion
    • 8 levels, based on learning outcomes
  • Key role of the Authority in the development of both meta-frameworks
european meta frameworks
European Meta-Frameworks
  • In both cases
    • Primacy with the National Framework of Qualifications
    • Quality assurance required in national arrangements
    • Qualifications relate to national frameworks and frameworks talk to each other through meta-frameworks
    • Countries self-certify the link of their national frameworks to European frameworks following established criteria and procedures
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Country A

EQF

Country B

Qualifications

(A)

Qualifications

(B)

further information
Further Information
  • all developments are featured on the website of the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland: www.nqai.ie
  • Framework website: www.nfq.ie
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