The Minister of State with responsibility for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. today (1 January 2020) announced the granting of award making powers, with exception of doctoral awards, to all institutes of technology.
In welcoming this announcement, the Minister said: “This is a significant step for the sector. The measures introduced today establishes all institutes of technology as autonomous awarding bodies, placing them on an equal footing with other designated awarding bodies such as the universities and the RCSI. This reflects the great work that has been done by the management, staff and students and their continuing efforts to develop and build the capacity of our institutes of technology.”
These powers have been granted following the commencement of Section 36 of the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Act 2019 which was successfully piloted through the Oireachtas by the Minister and enacted last July.
Prior to this legislation all institutes of technology required delegated authority from Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) to make awards on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). In granting these powers, this Act addresses the legislative difference in the relationship between QQI and the universities and QQI and the institutes of technology respectively. This now creates a single, coherent quality assurance and qualifications space amongst public higher education institutions.
The Act also includes key provisions to strengthen the independent control of the academic councils within the Institutes of Technology, bringing them into line with those of the existing designated awarding bodies. The autonomy of the academic decision-making of an academic council and its independence from the governing authority of an institute is necessary to support the granting of autonomous awarding powers.