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Access, Transfer and Progression

About ATP

"Access, Transfer and Progression" describes the pathways available to learners to enter and transfer between, and progress from programmes of education and training, which are the main route to achieving awards and qualifications.

Definitions include:

  • Access - the process by which learners may commence a programme of education and training having received recognition for knowledge, skill or competence required.

  • Transfer - the process by which learners may transfer from one programme of education and training to another programme having received recognition for knowledge, skill and competence acquired.

  • Progression - the process by which learners may transfer from one programme of education and training to another programme.


​Legal framework for ATP in Ireland

An important function for QQI under the Quality and Qualifications (Education and Training) Act, is to:

  • determine policies and criteria for access, transfer and progression in relation to learners, and

  • monitor the implementation of procedures for access, transfer and progression in relation to learners by providers.

We fulfil this function in collaboration with providers of education and training programmes.


QQI Policy on ATP

Following consultation, in 2015, a Policy Restatement on the 2003 Access, Transfer and Progression in relation to Learners for Providers of Further and Higher Education and Training was published. This provides the basis for providers to establish at local level, their own policies and procedures for ATP.  The policy states that providers are required to give clear information to learner which should help identify pathways to, from and within programmes, and about awards and qualifications that may be achieved.

Providers implementation of access, transfer and progression is monitored mainly through programme validation and through review processes for provider's quality assurance arrangements.   


The Higher Education Links Scheme (HELS)

The Higher Education Links Scheme is a national system for application to the first year of higher education programmes through the CAO,  based on achievements within linked (Common Award System) level 5 and 6 awards.  You will find more information on the scheme on the HELS page here and in the publication Progression Opportunities into Higher Education, which is updated annually.   


Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

There is increased interest nationally and internationally in ways of both recognising and valuing learning achieved outside of formal education and training programmes (for example e.g. from workplace and life experience, voluntary activities). 

This process, described nationally as Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), can be be used for the purpose of access to programmes or to seek exemptions from parts of programmes or awards.  In some cases it can lead directly to certification, for partial and full awards.

It is important to note that practice in this field is at an early stage nationally and is unevenly available, and can be time-consuming and challenging for applicants. 


Recognition of Foreign Qualifications

Recognition of foreign qualifications in Ireland is supported through NARIC Ireland.  This service offers advice on the academic recognition of foreign qualifications in Ireland.