HEA–QQI Memorandum of Understanding 2015–2017

On 2nd April 2015 the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) launched a memorandum of understanding (MoU). Reflecting a shared commitment to enhancing the performance and quality of Irish higher education, the MoU provides a framework for cooperation and communication between the HEA and QQI, as well as for close partnership-working with the higher education sector, to ensure the coordination and complementarity of the two organisations’ activities. It sets out a range of actions, to be implemented over the period 2015–2017, to support the 4 key commitments presented in the document:

  • commitment to coherence of approach;
  • commitment to alignment of activities;
  • commitment to Ireland in an international context;
  • commitment to partnerships for enhancement.

The view of both organisations is that the MoU should be tangible in terms of supporting the evolution of the relationship between QQI and the HEA. Accordingly a significant element of the MoU is collaboration with the higher education sector as a whole.


The focus in 2015 was on laying the foundations for the implementation of the MoU, an important element of which was enhancing the mutual understanding of the work of the two organisations amongst the HEA and QQI Executive. To this end a workshop was held in the HEA on 18th June 2015 for HEA and QQI staff in order to facilitate engagement, to enhance mutual understanding of the objectives and functions of the two organisations and of individuals’ roles within these, and to foster bilateral working relationships. The focus of the workshop was on the two organisations’ engagement with higher education institutions, with presentations by QQI on their annual institutional reports, annual dialogue meetings, institutional reviews, and QA guidelines; and by the HEA on the process of strategic dialogue, the institutional compacts, and the institutional profiles.

As envisaged in the MoU, a forum was established which brings together the HEA and QQI with the Department of Education and Skills, IUA, THEA and USI. The primary objective of the Forum is to assist and advise the HEA and QQI on the implementation of the MoU and it is envisaged that the Forum will focus on a number of relevant themes over the duration of the MoU as well as periodically considering the implementation of the MoU as a whole. Four meetings of the Forum were held in 2015, during which an exercise was undertaken to explore the data and information which public higher education institutions are requested to provide to the HEA and QQI. A discussion paper detailing the obligations of the two organisations in respect of information and data-collection and the processes by which this is obtained is available below.

Since 2016 the forum has served as the Steering Committee for the pilot of the National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP). This is an initiative jointly funded by the HEA and QQI to develop students’ capabilities to engage at all levels of the higher education system through the development of processes and activities to support this.

In 2017, following the publication of Irish Education, Globally Connected: An International Education Strategy for Ireland 2016-2020, the forum will focus on supporting the internationalisation of higher education as a holistic strategy for quality enhancement as well as on aligning the two organisations’ engagement with higher education institutions more broadly.