QQI – Getting Brexit Ready

Important information in relation to quality and qualifications in a post-Brexit scenario

This notification is intended to give you some information about the impacts of Brexit on QQI’s areas of responsibility – quality assurance of higher and further education and training, QQI awards and recognition of qualifications at home and abroad – in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit scenario.


The withdrawal from the EU of the UK will bring change to many aspects of Irish life.

While ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement is still the Government’s preferred outcome, a series of Government initiatives is underway, both nationally and in conjunction with the EU, in preparation for the possibility that the UK fails to agree a deal for their departure from the EU on 31st January 2020.

Many of the arrangements in place between the UK and Ireland regarding education and training relate to the Common Travel Area (CTA) with the UK.

Common Travel Area

The CTA is a long-standing arrangement between Ireland and the United Kingdom which enables Irish and British citizens to travel and reside in either jurisdiction without restriction, and provides for associated reciprocal rights and privileges in both jurisdictions.  It predates membership of the EU by both Ireland and the UK and is not dependent on membership.

In May 2019, the Irish and UK Governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the CTA, which notes, among other issues that:
“the CTA affords Irish and British citizens the right of access to all levels of education and training, and associated student support in each other’s State on terms no less favourable than those for citizens of that State.”

Further information on the CTA is available from the Government of Ireland website at: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/a7ba02-brexit-info/.

Recognition advice on Qualifications in UK and Ireland

QQI Brexit preparations have focussed on supporting mobility and recognition of qualifications.  

QQI has a statutory function to cooperate with international bodies on qualifications and quality assurance policies and their implementation and, in particular:
• to liaise with awarding bodies outside the State for the purpose of facilitating the recognition in the State of awards of those bodies; and
• to facilitate the recognition outside the State of awards made in the State.

Regardless of the nature of any new relationship between the UK and the EU, QQI will continue its engagement and co-operation with relevant authorities and agencies across the UK to facilitate the continued recognition of qualifications within the common travel area.  The UK and Ireland will continue to maintain and publish advice on the alignment of academic and vocational qualifications.

The four UK nations currently are aligned with the European Qualifications Framework for their domestic qualification systems.  This will facilitate cross-border academic recognition of qualifications, even in the event of the UK becoming a ‘third country’ in EU terms. 

Through meetings  of the UK and Ireland Qualifications Frameworks and Policy Group, work will continue in policy exchange and promotion of mutual understanding and trust in Irish and UK qualification systems.  This includes the publication of Qualifications can Cross Boundaries which provides up-to-date information on comparing qualifications in the UK and Ireland.  It also includes a helpful profile of the qualifications levels at which apprenticeship education and training is available across the five nations. 

QQI’s NARIC service provides advice on the academic recognition of foreign qualifications in Ireland with comparability statements for each qualification listed available to download by learners.   For information about recognition of Irish qualifications in the UK and UK qualifications in Ireland, visit www.naric.ie.

Recognition of professional qualifications 

An EU Directive currently allows for Irish and UK citizens to have professional qualifications recognised. This covers professional qualifications in areas like nursing, medicine, architecture, engineering etc.

​In the event of a no-deal Brexit, all UK qualifications already recognised in Ireland will continue to be recognised.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, applications for UK qualifications to be recognised in Ireland after 31 January 2020 will be processed as ‘third country’ applications, similar to all applications from outside the EU, which may mean that the process will take longer.

QQI DOES NOT ACT AS A REGULATOR OF THESE PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS.   Further information can be found on the relevant regulator’s website.

Regulation of UK awarding bodies operating in Ireland

Many UK awarding bodies such as City and Guilds and The Open University currently offer qualifications in Ireland.  The Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Act 2019 will allow a wider range of awarding bodies, including UK bodies, to have their qualifications included on the National Framework of Qualifications.  QQI is currently developing policies and procedures to allow this access while avoiding any regulatory or recognition gaps that may occur in a disorderly Brexit scenario.

Quality Assurance of Higher Education

QQI and QAA, the UK agency for quality assurance in higher education, renewed a Memorandum of Understanding in December 2018 which will allow the two agencies to continue to share information and promote mutual understanding of the quality and reputation of higher education in Ireland and the UK.


QQI will continue to provide a full service to all our stakeholders along with information and updates regarding Brexit as the final outcome becomes apparent. 
Information and updates on Getting Ireland Brexit Ready can be found at www.gov.ie/Brexit and https://www.education.ie/en/The-Department/Brexit/education-getting-ireland-brexit-ready.html.