Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Department of Education and Science
Question 111: To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if her attention has been drawn to the situation regarding the demise of a college (details supplied) in County Kilkenny and the impact this has had on students; if her further attention has been drawn to the fact that FETAC indicated to students undertaking the diploma in Montessori teaching that their course was protected as it is longer than three months and that learners currently enrolled on programmes lasting longer than three months may transfer to alternative providers operating in a similar field under protection for learners arrangements made by the provider as required under the Qualifications Act 1999 and FETAC will facilitate the transfer as soon as the relevant documentation becomes available; if she is further aware that FETAC has now indicated that it is not in a position to assist students in this regard; if such arrangements can now be made in view of the delay, inconvenience and uncertainty caused, which would have impacted on students making alternative arrangements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2117/11]
I am aware that the college the Deputy refers to is no longer offering courses and ceased trading in October 2010. Under the Qualifications (Education and Training) Act, 1999, FETAC-registered providers, delivering programmes of three months duration or more on a commercial and profit making basis, are required to have policy and procedures for the Protection for Learners, aimed at ensuring that there are adequate arrangements in place in the event of a provider ceasing operations. Such arrangements can include having an agreement in place with at least two other providers, to enable learners to transfer to continue their programmes should the provider cease operation.
The college referred to by the Deputy did not have protection for learners arrangements in place for this particular course. The course was structured as a series of six minor FETAC awards, each of which was less than three months in duration, although learners would have paid for the entire course in advance. When FETAC became aware that the course was being offered in this manner, it instructed the college to put protection for learners arrangements in place. The college failed to do this before it ceased trading.
Some 32 learners who had already completed assessments as part of the programme have returned their work to FETAC and it will be processed for certification. An additional 31 learners have not completed any assessments. FETAC has written to these learners advising them of other providers offering similar awards and is making all reasonable efforts to enable them to access a course.