Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) has responsibility to develop, promote and maintain the Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). The NFQ is a framework through which learning achievements may be measured and related to each other in a coherent way. Qualifications are organised within the NFQ based on their level of knowledge, skill and competence on a scale from 1-10. It allows for quality assurance, international comparison and clarification for learners on their qualification.
An Honours Bachelor Degree is classed as a Level 8 on the NFQ. This is normally awarded following completion of a programme of 3 to 4 years duration (180-240 ECTS credits).
A Higher Diploma is also classed as a Level 8 on the NFQ. This is normally awarded following completion of a programme of one year (60 ECTS credits). Entry to a programme leading to a Higher Diploma is typically for holders of Honours Bachelor Degrees but can also be for holders of Ordinary Bachelor Degrees. It is of note that the Higher Diploma is typically in a different field of learning than the initial award.
While both categories of qualification are at Level 8 on the NFQ, they may offer differing skill sets and competencies to graduates based on their programme of choice and field of study. It is a matter for employers to determine the learning outcomes, skills and competencies which would align with their employment requirements.