In Ireland, most qualifications fit into what is known as the The National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). This framework divides all qualifications into ten levels. It can be useful to think of it as a ladder system; entry at the bottom is at Level 1 and Level 10 is at the top.
The range of Levels include different types of qualifications:
- Basic Education (Levels 1-3)
- Certificates and Diplomas (Levels 4-7)
- Undergraduate Degrees (Levels 7-8) and
- Postgraduate Qualifications (Levels 9-10)
Awards on each Level are sub-divided into Major, Minor, Special Purpose and Supplemental awards, each according to the amount of time and learning completed.
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The structure of the Framework (NFQ) is based on levels and award types, which are outlined in the diagram above.
Ten award levels indicate the standard of learning (ranging from the most basic to doctoral awards).
There are four award-type categories, which serve as an indicator of the purpose, volume and progression opportunities associated with a particular award.
A major award is the main class of award made at any given level; examples of major awards include the Leaving Certificate, a QQI major certificate or an honours bachelor degree.
A minor award provides recognition for learners who achieve a range of learning outcomes but not the specific combination of learning outcomes required for a major award. A minor award is linked to a major award.
A Special Purpose award is made for very specific purposes; an example of a special-purpose award is site suitability for wastewater treatment.
A Supplemental Award is for learning which is additional to a previous award; it could, for example, relate to updating and refreshing knowledge or skills, or to continuing professional development.
|Click here to learn more about different types of awards|
Completion of a Major award at each level usually means you can progress to the next, so the framework helps you to build up your education and training, thus improving your employment prospects. So it is always advisable to find out what level the course you are interested in is at and if it is a full Major award or one of the lesser awards.
|Click here to learn more about the different levels and their indicators|