Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Questions (84)

Simon Harris

Question:

84. Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills when will Quality and Qualifications Ireland be in a position to inspect and approve language schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35595/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

ACELS (Accreditation and Co-ordination of English Language Services) is the body responsible for the development and management of an inspection/ recognition scheme for English Language Teaching organisations (ELTOs) within Ireland. The non-statutory functions of ACELS were previously part of the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI). The NQAI was merged, along with HETAC and FETAC, into Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) in November 2012. In order to prepare for the amalgamation of these three agencies into QQI, and the reassignment of resources across the new organisation, it was necessary to suspend any new applications to ACELS from September 1st 2012. Since its establishment, QQI has published a number of green papers, including one on the development of the International Education Mark (IEM). The objective of the IEM, which is provided for in the Quality and Qualifications Ireland (Education and Training) Act, 2012, is to contribute, as part of a quality framework, to the promotion of Ireland as a destination for international students. It is intended that new ELTOs who wish to use the IEM will have to first prove compliance with a Code of Practice that encompasses areas such as arrangements for the protection of learners, the collection of fees from enrolled learners, and requirements relating to tax compliance of providers. There will also be a process of transition to the IEM for ELTOs that were previously recognised by ACELS. The deadline for submissions on the IEM green paper is 13 September 2013. It was initially intended to suspend the acceptance of applications to ACELS pending the development and introduction of the IEM. However, QQI is currently reviewing this decision due to the interest that has been expressed in gaining ACELS recognition. Any changes in the current position will be notified to providers through the ACELS and QQI websites.