Relationships with Providers
Following the amalgamation of the four agencies (FETAC, HETAC, NQAI, IUQB) that created QQI, the relationships that providers and institutions had with those agencies transferred to us.
The 2012 Act establishing QQI, ensured these relationships were maintained until replaced by new quality assurance (QA) arrangements with QQI. While some of this work is complete the process is ongoing.
We use the term, ’Re-engagement' to describe this transition.
We work with a diverse range of private and public providers and institutions in further and higher education and training as well as in English language teaching.
Our relationships with these providers vary. For some, we act as an awarding body and external quality assurance body. For those that make their own awards, we are an external quality assurance body only.
In all cases, the Re-engagement process:
• recognises quality assurance arrangements already in place
• addresses additional areas of quality assurance required under the 2012 Act (for instance, widened application of Protection for Enrolled Learners, or the identification of arrangements for the quality assurance of linked providers*)
• ensures that a benchmark for quality assurance applies equally for all providers seeking to offer, or currently offering, programmes leading to QQI awards.
The policy documents that relate to Re-engagement are:
• Overarching policy
• Policy relating to FET (Further Education and Training)
• Policy relating to HET (Higher Education)
Re-engagement for each provider is intended to be a one-off occurrence which establishes its QA procedures with QQI in accordance with either Section 29 or 30 of the 2012 Act.
QQI must reengage with all providers, public and private, large and small. The universities, RCSI and Institutes of Technology have formally consulted with QQI on draft QA procedures. The universities have now established QA procedures while applications from RCSI and Institutes of Technology are being processed in Spring 2017.
Education and Training Boards are planning to draft QA procedures in the second half of 2017 following the publication by QQI of sectoral quality assurance guidelines.
We are implementing a communications process to describe Re-engagement and its implications for providers. This will provide clarity on:
• the process for providers to seek approval of their QA procedures
• what it will mean for individual providers in terms of effort and cost
• factors impacting on timelines and sequencing
• feasibility of new approaches to the approval of QA, such as a group of providers presenting as a new ‘consortium’ provider.
In Spring 2017 QQI began holding regional briefings for all independent and private providers to explain the Re-engagement policy and describe the proposed process. The presentation used in the briefings is available to download here.
If any provider has not been invited to one of these briefings, they should contact us via Qhelp.
The proposed process will entail:
1. Application comprising
•Draft QA Procedures
2. Evaluation by Expert Peer Review
•Review of documentation
•Meeting between provider and expert panel to discuss documentation
•Draft panel report with recommendation to QQI – will be one of the following:
- Not Approved with Recommendations (allows for revised application within six months)
- Not Approved
3. Decision by QQI
4. Publication of Panel Report
QQI’s own quality assurance and governance procedures relevant to evaluative processes such as this will apply.
QQI will pilot the Re-engagement process to test its efficacy before going live. This pilot will begin in mid-2017 and should be complete by year end. It is hoped that a representative sample of 10 – 15 providers of both higher and further education will volunteer to take part.
Providers taking part in the pilot will be able to get feedback on their quality assurance procedures as well as help to improve the QQI process. It is important to note however, that providers who take part in the pilot will still have to make a formal application when the process is live.
The pilot process will test the following instruments:
Guide to process - to explain what Re-engagement is and how it will work.
Application Form – to give information about the provider so that the panel reviewing the QA procedures will be fully informed of the provider’s context.
Self-Assessment Checklist - This document, for a provider’s own use only, is designed to help a provider do a gap analysis between their current quality system and what will be required for QQI approval.
Self-Assessment Report – to verify that the provider has assured itself that its capacity and quality assurance procedures are compatible with QQI criteria and guidelines. The report will also explain to any reviewer how the proposed quality system will work in that provider’s context.
Panel Report template - This will be used by a panel of chosen experts who will evaluate a provider’s quality assurance procedures with a view to making a recommendation to QQI on approval.
Other aspects of the process to be tested in the pilot include timelines, information, availability of peer reviewers etc.
Obviously, there will be no fee for the pilot phase and no binding outcome or published report.
After the pilot is complete QQI will make necessary revisions to the process and instruments listed above. It will publish the findings of the pilot and revised documentation.
Before the end of 2017, all independent and private providers who are to reengage with QQI, (of which there are 448 as of March 2017) will be given a target year and quarter, beginning in Quarter 1 2018, when they should be ready to make an application to reengage.
In the intervening period, providers should be revising their quality assurance procedures in line with current QQI guidelines for quality assurance - Core and Sectoral. Providers should also refer to the 2016 Policy and Criteria for Validation of Programmes already in use in the higher education and training sector and due to be activated for further education and training in December 2017.
There will be a fee for re-engagement, the amount to be approved by the Minster for Education and Skills.
QQI will propose a graduated system where a provider will pay a single fee, the amount determined by its scope of provision at the time of making an application i.e. the highest NFQ level and volume of their validated programmes.
Fees will not exceed those for approval of quality assurance procedures for providers seeking initial access to validation.
Pending Re-engagement, providers with validated programmes should continue as per normal i.e. delivery and assessment of currently validated programmes may proceed and applications for validation of new programmes may be made.
If you have further questions about Re-engagement, please use Qhelp to send them to us.