Thursday, 7 February 2019
Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Bill 2018: Committee Stage (Resumed)
I thank the Senator for tabling these amendments and for her hard work. I am aware that a number of providers will be only engaging with QQI for the first time on this new Bill and there may be a level of anxiety about some of the requirements that will be placed on providers that wish to have the programme validated by QQI. This is understandable but I assure Senators and providers that QQI has well established procedures in place for consulting with providers before fees for their various services are recommended to the Minister for approval.
While I cannot accept amendment No. 69, I assure Senator Ruane that the facility she is requesting is already contained in the Bill. This is provided for in the amended section 65(3), which enables QQI to determine when the annual charge will be paid by a specific class to the provider. QQI will have the flexibility to engage with providers to determine a suitable date and the structure of that payment of this charge. I hope that satisfies the Senator on that point.
On amendment No. 78, which she has raised, it is important to note that the annual charge applied to QQI will vary between providers due to the variety of factors and the criteria set out in the Bill. The Minister for Education and Skills would not be in a position to consult annually with providers subject to the fund on the individual rates that will apply.However, I am willing to accept the principle behind the Senator's amendment and, therefore, I propose to table an amendment on Report Stage in the Seanad or subsequently to provide for QQI to consult with providers before the relevant fee is determined.