Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Ceisteanna (592)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

592. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills her views on the fact that an organisation (details supplied) provides chainsaw and arboricultural qualifications to a much higher standard than that which is available here at present yet are not recognised here; her further views on the UK-based qualifications recognised here that fall under the jurisdiction of UK courts and may not align to the European qualifications framework after Brexit; and her views on the speedy approval and recognition of the qualifications here in line with the co-operation agreement between Quality and Qualifications Ireland and the Education Bureau of Hong Kong. [15212/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) is the statutory body with responsibility for developing, promoting and maintaining the Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).

In line with the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012, the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) currently recognises the qualifications of Irish awarding bodies including Universities, Institutes of Technology, Technological Universities, QQI and the State Examination Commission. Following the enactment of the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Act 2019, QQI’s powers in this regard will be expanded to broaden the number and types of qualifications that can be included in the NFQ. This amending legislation, when commenced, will facilitate the inclusion of the qualifications of other awarding bodies including international, professional and UK awarding bodies. When commenced, such awarding body may choose to apply to QQI to have their qualifications, such as those in question, included in the Framework.

Currently, NARIC Ireland, hosted by QQI, provides recognition advice on foreign academic qualifications. This service provides comparability statements for a substantial number of qualifications from a wide range of countries aimed at assisting understanding of these qualifications in the context of the Irish education and training system. In addition to assisting the qualification holder, these statements can also help employers, funding agencies and education and training institutions to determine if an applicant holds the academic qualifications for a particular job, funding or course. These statements are available to download free of charge from its website at http://www.naric.ie.

The cooperation agreement between QQI and the Education Bureau of Hong Kong has facilitated an international level-to-level comparison exercise between the Hong Kong Qualifications Framework (HKQF) and the NFQ which has utilised European Qualification Framework as a reference guide. This work is aimed at enhancing the transparency of qualifications systems in Hong Kong and Ireland by showing how both frameworks relate to each other at system levels. While this supports the portability of qualifications between the jurisdictions and would facilitate the recognition process, it does not align nor recognise individual qualifications in their own right.

While the UK is departing the EU, it has recently competed a referencing of its Qualifications Frameworks to the European Qualifications Framework. QQI collaborates closely with its UK counterparts on both bi-lateral and international initiatives that promote the transparency, recognition and mobility of qualifications between both jurisdictions and this work will continue post-Brexit. The qualifications authorities in the UK and Ireland have agreed the correspondence between qualifications frameworks in operation across the jurisdictions. This has resulted in a joint publication, Qualifications can cross Boundaries, which indicates the level of a UK qualification within the Irish NFQ.