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HETAC, the Higher Education and Training Awards Council of Ireland, was established on 11 June 2001, under the Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 1999. HETAC is the qualifications awarding body for third-level educational and training institutions outside the university sector.

It is the successor to the National Council for Educational Awards (NCEA). NCEA has played its part in the economic development of Ireland for more than a quarter of a century, and the demand for people with NCEA qualifications has grown dramatically. The status and value of NCEA qualifications is assured and in fact will continue to grow.

HETAC may delegate authority to make awards to Recognised Institutions under the Act. Recognised Institutions currently comprise the Institutes of Technology.

In assuming the main functions of NCEA, HETAC will continue to take a modern, progressive approach to third-level education. While it will undertake the validation of programmes, and set and monitor standards, HETAC will take a more strategic view of Quality Assurance in higher education and training in Ireland.

It is also charged with ensuring that student assessment procedures within institutions are fair and consistent, and ensuring academic and financial protection for students in commercial educational institutions providing programmes validated by HETAC.

HETAC will also monitor the educational needs of the economy in Ireland for all extra-university higher education and training bodies and institutions. It wants to contribute to Irish economic prosperity by ensuring the supply of people with the right qualifications at the right time.

It is a member of ENQA.