Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) have recently published a revised policy on delegation of authority to Institutes of Technology (ITs). The policy will establish the infrastructure needed to allow ITs to create joint awards as well as allow them to validate their own research degree programmes in any discipline area at NFQ level 9.
The overall approach of the ITs when establishing these joint awards will be consistent with QQI’s approach and with the standards of the NFQ. Before a joint award can be made by an institute, the education programme and training leading to the award has to be validated by the institute against one of the NFQ’s higher education awards. This means that the learning must meet the expectations of the NFQ’s standards for learning outcomes.
Creating joint awarding involves risk, due to the involvement of multiple institutions and so diligence is required by ITs to ensure that the awards are properly recognised. It is also important that the awards are recognised in other countries where a transnational programme is involved.
A joint award, according to the HETAC Awards Council, refers to a higher education qualification issued jointly by at least two or more higher education institutions or jointly, by one or more higher education institutions and other awarding bodies, on the basis of an education programme created and/or provided jointly by the higher education institutions.
In order for an IT to make awards at NFQ level 9, the QQI must be satisfied with the institute’s:
- capacity for maintaining an institutional strategy for research
- ability to execute the awarding body management, functions and operations concerned with awarding research master’s degrees
- operations and management with respect to the provision of master’s level research degree programmes and training, including a research validation process to replace the QQI’s research validation process
As a result of this new policy, ITs will implement sectoral protocols concerning joint awarding and awarding research master’s degrees. These sectoral protocols will be two high level documents, concerning joint awarding and level 9 research degree programmes, and will replace existing protocols already in place in ITs .
Author: Fiona McBennett