Frequently Asked Questions

Is The Open College Government approved?


Yes. The Open College has agreed its quality assurance procedures with QQI (answerable to the Department of Education in Ireland) and is registered with QQI to offer programmes leading to QQI awards on the National Framework of Qualifications. QQI (Quality & Qualification Ireland) is the national awarding body for further education and training in Ireland. Click here for more information.

Why Study with Us?


Benefits of gaining a QQI Award with The Open College are:


Size: We are Ireland’s largest QQI accredited Distance learning course provider. We have successfully educated and awarded over 19,000 students with QQI qualifications during the last number of years.

Choice: We offer an extensive range of courses through flexible Learning formats from Distance learning, eLearning, Classroom & Blended Learning. Our range of courses offer more opportunities than ever before with a choice of over 90 QQI Levels 5 & 6 component Certificates and Major Award programmes in a variety of categories.

Flexibility: Start our courses at any time. We enrol students throughout the year and with our Online Distance Learning format you can study at your own pace and anywhere that suits you.

Value: We offer the Best Education Service and Value in the FET sector.

Services: We are an approved Garda Vetting Organisation. The Open College also cover our Learners Insurance requirements while out on Work Placements and all at no extra cost!

Course Options: Majority of our courses can be completed in less than 3 months.

Study Support: Continuous One to One tutor support for all our learners by fully qualified and industry experienced tutors.

Accreditation: You can continue to earn while you learn and gain an Internationally Recognised Qualification. All our Awards are Fully Validated & Approved by QQI.

Security: All student fees for our QQI Major Award courses are fully secured and protected by a Bond.

Quality: QQI and SOLAS Approved Training Provider.

Reputation: Our reputation for quality is supported by our continued growth and expansion in the Further Education sector.

Transparency: We always publish all our course prices and inform our learners on everything they need to make the proper and informed decision, hence our extensive and industry leading website.

About the Open College

»Click here to Request a Free Prospectus

What programmes do you offer?


We offer over 90 QQI Levels 5 & 6 award programmes by distance learning, eLearning and attendance learning and we are Ireland’s dedicated provider of QQI awards. We have programmes available in Childcare, Healthcare, Teaching, Special Needs, Sports, Psychology, Journalism, Business, Management, Law, Digital Media and many more. We also offer Online Degree Programmes through partnerships with some of the worlds most prestigious Universities.

All the QQI and Degree awards are recognised on the National Framework of Qualifications in Ireland, UK and Europe. These awards are also recognised Internationally. For a full list of our programmes please click here.

Can you pay for Open College courses by instalments?


Yes. All our distance learning courses can be paid for over a three, six or 10 month period (depending on course length).

We may also at certain times during the year run extra Easy Payment offers on all our Major Awards (Childcare, Healthcare, Montessori & Business) in which payments can be spread over 10 months. Terms and Conditions may apply. Please click here for further details.


Do you offer Previous Student Discounts?


Yes. We offer discounts to previous students who wish to complete additional courses with us. These discounts are available across all our programmes. Please ask for further details by emailing us at and noting your previous student number before you enrol on further programmes.

Can you help with Garda Vetting?


Yes, The Open College is a registered organistaion with the Garda Vetting Unit and is in a position to offer students a Garda Vetting service. There may be a delay in processing applications with the Garda Vetting Unit due to high demand on the unit so we advise you to complete the forms on registration. Please ask for details.


What about Garda Vetting if I have lived abroad - International Police Vetting?


If you have resided in countries outside of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland for a period of 6 months or more, you may be required to obtain a Police Clearance Certificate from those countries stating that you have no convictions recorded against you while residing there.

Seeking security clearances from other countries (e.g. UK, USA etc.) are the responsibility of the applicant and you should only look for this if requested by a placement provider.

The following websites may be of assistance to you if you are required to obtain a Police Clearance Certificate:


United Kingdom

Please note that if you need Police clearance from the UK you will need an International Child Protection Certificate, NOT a Police Certificate.
You can apply for the International Child Protection Certificate on the link below:



This website provides information on obtaining a national police clearance certificate for Australia.


New Zealand

This website will provide information on obtaining police clearance in New Zealand.


United States of America

Please note that valid Security/Overseas Clearance from the USA must be obtained from the FBI only. FBI Clearance is valid for all of the United States and convictions / remarks occurring anywhere in the United States would be noted.

Download the Applicant Information form here.
FD-258 Fingerprint Card

Credit Card Payment Form

The current processing time for an FBI Background Check is taking 12 – 14 weeks to complete from the date the request was received. Unfortunately, no requests can be expedited at this time due to the amount of work. All responses are mailed through the US Postal Service First Class Mail. Please allow standard mailing time (three weeks in the US and four weeks outside the US) to receive the response. There is no tracking number with the US Postal Service First Class Mail. Responses cannot be emailed.


Other Countries

For other countries not listed above you may find it helpful to contact the relevant embassies who could provide you with information on seeking Police Clearance.


The Teaching Council of Ireland has a handy document with useful addresses regarding obtaining overseas police clearance.


Please Note: Any costs incurred in this process will be borne by the applicant.


Do you cover Workplacement Insurance?


Yes, In addition to the Garda Vetting service, our unique insurance plan covers all our learners who are out on workplacements as part of their course. Full details of the Insurance cover are provided to the Workplace Centre when selected by the learner. There are no extra costs for this cover. Please ask for details.


Do you accept Social Welfare Funding for a QQI Course?


Yes. People on Social Welfare Benefits & Jobseekers wishing to participate on The Open College’s extensive range of training courses, may be eligible to avail of Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) funding or Technical Employment Support Grant (TESG) funding to facilitate their entry to a particular training programme.

This can fund the learner up to €1,00 towards a QQI Course with us.

The allocation of funding for participation on our courses, will be solely at the discretion of the DEASP – Social Welfare facilitator and will be dependent upon the availability of funding at the time of application and the applicant’s ability to satisfy the eligibility criteria.

Occasionally employers fund courses fully or partially. Local Charitable Organisations may assist with fee contributions, if approached.

In order to make an application for funding for your desired course from Department of Social Protection the following steps need to be completed:

  • Please print off the course details of interest to you.
  • Arrange an appointment with a DSP facilitator in your local Department of Social Welfare office to check your eligibility for funding.
  • During the meeting with your DSP job facilitator please inform them that completing the training course forms a key element of your back to work plan.
  • Provide the Facilitator with the course brochure and request funding to participate on the training course.
  • If you are successful in obtaining funding, your Facilitator will provide you with funding forms for us to fill out.
  • Please post these forms to The Open College where they will be completed, signed and returned to your local social welfare office
  • If you are successful in obtaining funding please contact us to secure your place on the next available course.

Can you Progress to Third Level Colleges / Universities with The Open College QQI Awards?


Progression to 3rd Level / University

Yes. The Higher Education Links Scheme (HELS) links specific QQI Level 5 and 6 Advanced Certificates to reserved places in a variety of higher education programmes. For QQI CAO applicants there are 40 higher education institutions including universities, institutes of technology and private third level colleges offering places on a variety of courses.

In addition to the Higher Education Links Scheme (HELS) which links specific QQI Level 5 Certificates and some Level 6 Advanced Certificates to a number of reserved places on higher education courses, the Institutes of Technology and some higher education institutions operate an admissions criteria and scoring system for non-specific QQI Level 5 Certificate and Level 6 Advanced Certificate applicants. In addition some higher institutions may have further education requirements, so it is important that you confirm this and any other specific requirements with the CAO and the Admissions Office of the individual institutions.

Click here for more information on Going to Higer Education using your QQI Award.


The Scoring System for FET awards:

Once all of the above requirements have been met, a learner can apply for a place on the linked higher education programme.  The best score for each applicant is calculated and the results are forwarded to the CAO in July of each year.

You can calculate your score using the free online points calculator at, which is based on the following scoring system:

Each level 5 and level 6 component is scored:

  • 3.25 for a Distinction
  • 2.16 for a Merit
  • 1.08 for a Pass

This number is then multiplied by the individual component credit value to a maximum of 120 credits (a total of 390 points).

It may be easiest to multiply the individual component credit value by 3 for Distinction, 2 for Merit, and 1 for Pass, multiplying by 13 and dividing by 12.

See the links to the scoring examples below for more information.

For further details on the Scoring and the HELs Scheme please click here….


The National Framework of Qualifications

The National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) provides a way to compare qualifications, and to ensure that they are quality assured and recognised at home and abroad. Click on the image below to find out more from the NQAI.


What are the benefits of Online / Distance learning?


  • Convenience of learning at home, place of work or other preferred locations.
  • Option to customise the learning, ability measure your progress, flexibility and part-time.
  • Access is available around the clock.
  • Ability to be able to learn at your own pace.
  • Access is available across all devices – PC, Laptops, iPads & all Smartphones or if you do not wish to access all the content online we can also print and post the course content to you.
  • One very important aspect of learning with The Open College is the Tutor Support provided:
    • The Open College have over 40 Tutors across all course categories that work Monday – Friday.
    • Through our multiple communication channels you can message your Tutor with your query and they will message, call or text you a reply.
    • Support throughout your study – as much or as little as you like.
    • Academic Writing & Plagiarism support tools / resources are made available.
    • Draft Assessment submissions and detailed feedback.
    • Fair & Transparent Marking and Feedback on final results.

How long does it take to complete a Single Component/Module or Major Award?


For modules or component single awards students have up to 8 weeks to complete.

For Major Awards (8 Modules), students must be complete these within 13 months.


How many study hours are recommended to successfully complete a module over the 8 week period?


The recommended time for completion of all individual components is 8 weeks, within these 8 weeks about 16 – 18 hrs of study a week is expected.

This would meet Study and completion of Assessment Requirements.

The benefit of Online courses is that you as the learner are in control of your time whether is it during the week or at the weekend during each of the 8 weeks allotted to complete the award.


What is a QQI Award?


Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) is a state agency established by the Quality Assurance and Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 2012. 

QQI is an amalgamation of the previously operational Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC); the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC); the Irish Universities Quality Board (IUQB) and the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI). 

QQI are responsible for a number of areas including:

    • Developing of awards and standards
    • Validating Education and Training programmes
    • Reviewing providers of education and training
    • Maintaining the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)
    • Authorising the use of the International Education Mark
      • Developing Quality Assurance
    • Facilitating Qualifications Recognition.


Qualifications, Standards, Awards, Recognition

In the area of qualifications, they are responsible for maintaining the ten-level NFQ (National Framework of Qualifications). 
QQI are also an awarding body and set standards for awards we make in the NFQ. 
QQI validate education and training programmes and make extensive awards in the Further Education and Training sector including in the Education and Training Boards. 
QQI also make awards in Higher Education mainly to learners in private providers. The universities and institutes of technology largely make their own awards. 
They also provide advice on recognition of foreign qualifications in Ireland and on the recognition of Irish qualifications abroad. 
As a new function of QQI, they will publish a directory of providers and awards in the NFQ. 

How many National Framework Credits do I get?


The Common Awards System makes use of the NFQ’s four main award classifications, for example: 

Major Awards
A major award is the principal class of award made at each level. It represents a significant volume of learning outcomes. Major awards usually comprise of 8 minor awards / modules. The CAS Specification for each major award lists the mandatory modules which must be completed along with the elective modules which are required to make up the overall specified credit value of the award. The default credit values for Major awards are as follows: 

Level Default Credit Value
5 120
6 120

Minor Awards 
Minor awards are also commonly referred to as component certificates. These awards are single modules which can be completed and certificated individually. All minor awards are linked to a major award which allows learners the opportunity to build on their minor awards and work towards gaining a major award. It is important to note that minor awards are achievements in their own right.

Learners wishing to focus on one specific area or gain a specific skills e.g. Digital Marketing, Team Leadership etc. may find that completing a minor award in that area is much more appropriate that completing a major award which may be too broad to meet their specific needs. The default credit values for component awards are as follows: 

Level Default Credit Value
3-4 10
5-6 15

For a full list of our programmes please click here.

How many hours workplacement do I need to complete?


Not every QQI course requires a workplacement to successfully complete the course. Categories that usually require a workplacement are Childcare & Healthcare. For Major Awards (8 modules) the minimum requirement is 150 hours. For component awards or modules the minimum requirement is 20 hours.

The hours can be completed in blocks or over the duration of the programme. Each course page will detail if a workplacement is required under the section – “Programme Entry Requirements”. If you are unsure if your selected course requires a placement please contact us on 01 206 1828.

Is it possible to finish a Major Award course in less than 12 months, If so, what is the minimum time required to finish it?


A student would be pushed to finish a major award any sooner than 10 months. This will require the student to complete more hours per week above the 15-18 hours normally set. The 15 – 18 hours includes a work placement of approx. 6 hours a week.

Can I complete an online QQI course if I do not live in Ireland?


At the moment we are reviewing our programmes for “Transnational” delivery and are working with QQI to finalise this.

Until we have validated existing programmes to include Transnational agreements for Work Placements and External Exam sessions in other countries we are unable to allow students commence a programme unless they complete the placements and invigilated exams in Ireland. So, you can only complete our QQI accredited courses when you are living in Ireland. All other online non accredited programmes can be completed while abroad.


Are my Fees secure on courses of over 3 months Duration?


Yes. We have Protection for Learners for courses of more than 3 months duration. This means that if, for whatever reason, we cease to provide the programme that is over 3 months in duration which you enrolled for, we have specific and legally binding arrangements in place to finish out that programme for you at no extra cost. All Major Award course fees for programmes over 3 months in duration are fully protected and secured by a Bond.

If we cease trading those learners who have not finished their programme will be fully protected by this Bank Guarantee which will be automatically triggered and the fund that covers all Fees paid by learners will be transferred to QQI by our Bank to enable QQIprovide further study options for these leaners or the refund of fees most recently paid so that they can complete their programme and all of this will be at no extra cost to the learners affected.

Do I receive Tutor Support?


Yes. Our main aim is to help you enjoy your learning experience and to successfully complete your course. You are appointed a tutor for the duration of your course. Tutors will:

  • Help you understand the course content
  • Assess your progress on the course through assignments
  • Provide you with written feedback on your assignments
  • Help you with course-related challenges.


What should I contact my Tutor for?

You can email your tutor for the following reasons. Using the tutor email address noted on your course page, please contact your tutor for:

  • Queries on Assessments
  • Assessment Issues
  • Course Guidance
  • Teaching Information

For the above your Tutors will endeavour to respond to your email within 48 hours (excl. weekends)

  • Draft Submissions

Submit your fully completed draft submissions in one email to our tutor. Feedback will be provided on or before 7 days (excl. weekends) from date of receipt of Draft Assessments.


How does the QQI Certification Process work?


When will I receive my Certificate? Once you have completed your course and all of the required assessment work your tutor will notify the college of your completion. Based on your course completion date you are then assigned to the next available certification period. Please contact us on 01 206 1828 or for details on the next QQI Certification dates. Your completed assessments are then Internally Verified by The Open College before being presented to a QQI External Authenticator for moderation. Your Provisional results are issued to you following this process. QQI will then issue all certificates to The Open College which will then be sent to you at the address supplied on the during the enrolment process.


What is Internal Verification? QQI State that the Internal Verification Process involves “verifying that the provider’s assessment procedures have been applied across the range of assessment activities and confirming assessment results by checking learner evidence exists and marks and grades are recorded accurately” (

During The Open Colleges Internal Verification process your work is reviewed by the Internal Verifier to ensure that all of the required assessments are complete. The Internal Verifier opens each assessment to check that it has been sent in correctly and that all assignments are present. A sample of your work will be checked for plagiarism using plagiarism detector software and the results will be recorded. Your work may be viewed by the External Authenticator when they visit the college as part of the External Authentication process.


What is External Authentication? QQI state that the purpose of the External Authentication process is to “ensure fairness, consistency and validity of assessment and of the outcome of assessment for learner results across each major, special purpose, or supplement award.  The authentication process will ensure that QQI receive accurate and quality assured learner results.” (

The external authenticator is an independent individual who is selected from the QQI quality assured panel of external authenticators.

The external authenticator visits the college and as part of the External Authentication process and reviews ALL of our students work and reviews the college’s assessment process. Once the the reviews are complete they then authenticate the results.

As part of QQI quality assurance procedures final grades cannot be issued to students until the Internal Verification and External Authentication is complete.

If you have any further questions on our Certification process please do not hesitate in contacting us at 01 2061828 or


How Can I pay for a Course?


There are several ways to pay your course fees. You can pay online or by cheque, credit or debit card, cash, banker’s draft or bank transfer.

Online Payment
Online payments can be made securely by Credit or Debit Card with all payments processed through our secure Irish Payment provider – Stripe.

Cheque or Postal Order Payments
Alternatively you may post a Cheque, Postal Order or Money order made payable to The Open College, The Learning Centre, Leopardstown Business Centre, Leopardstown, Dublin 18, Ireland.

Paying by Bank Transfer
The fastest way of making payments to The Open College is by direct bank transfer. For students transferring funds directly to the College account please contact us on 01 206 1828 for our account details. Please Note: Always mention your student ID whenever you make a transfer.

If you would like help, email us at or call us at 01 206 1828 / 01 206 1829.

7 Day Refund Guarantee:
If you decide that you wish to cancel your enrolment, you may do so provided that you notify us of cancellation in writing within 7 days of enrolment stating the reasons for cancellation and that you return all Course Materials to us in their original form. A €150 administration fee is non refundable. For further details on Refunds and other Terms and Conditions please click here.


How long do I have to complete my course?


For most of our online distance learning courses you have between 8 weeks to 12 months to complete your course (please see individual course information for details). We encourage you to complete your studies within the set timeframe. However, if you do not have time to complete your course during the specified period simply contact us, as course extensions can be agreed – please see terms and conditions of enrolment.

Do I need to attend Classes / Lectures?


For some courses students will be required to attend workshops and exams. This dates and times will be available before the student signs up for the course. All information can be found on the individual course details.

Where can I get additional Reading / Books?


Once you enrol, we will post a Course pack to you. Course packs are very comprehensive and cover the entire course. While it is not necessary to purchase additional books, this would benefit your learning and knowledge on the subject matter.

Can I transfer to another Course?


Enrolled Students may be allowed transfer to another course of their choice, provided that: such requests are made in writing (by email to within 7 days of enrolment and noting reasonable justification and that additional Course Fees (if any) have been paid in full. There is an administration charge of €100 for transferring to another course.

Can I get exemptions because of my previous qualifications?


As some students already have degrees, diplomas or certificates in areas related to courses, it is possible to apply for exemption from modules of a course whose content has already been covered by existing qualifications – this is called Recognition of Prior Learning. It is not possible to obtain exemptions on the basis of work experience only. If you wish to apply for exemptions please contact the College.

Can I Appeal a result?


Yes. An appeals process is in place in relation to passing of: (1) tutor marked assignments, (2) final grades awarded, and (3) programmes. All Appeals must be submitted within 14 days of receipt of the result. Information on appeals may be found here

How Does Assessment work?


For the vast majority of our courses, assessment is based upon assignments/project work which is completed throughout the course. In some cases, there is a Final assessment, which also must be completed. Assessments must be made by students within specified deadlines. Failure to do so, may result in the award not being awarded to the student. All student work for QQI programmes will be marked by an Internal Assessor, then checked by an Internal Verifier and a QQI External Authenticator.

Can I extent the time to complete my course?


Extensions may be allowed depending on the time elapsed, and will be considered on an individual basis. Applications should be made by contacting the college. Students are allowed resubmit assignments within the course timeframe. All students’ work must be their own original work.

The college has a strict policy in relation to plagiarism of submitted work, and if it is established, the penalties may include resubmission of work (where the maximum grade awarded is a pass) or exclusion from the programme. Please read your student guide for detailed information on this and how to avoid plagiarism.

What technology or PC would I need to complete the course?


To complete our courses, you will need to ensure you have PC/Laptop or Tablet that has:

  • Windows 8 or later or a Mac with OSX 10.5 or later.
  • Standard PC Processor and at least 8gb of Ram.
  • An internet connection with a speed of at least 10mbps.
  • Internet Brower – latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge or Safari, and set
    to accept cookies and pop-ups.
  • Adobe Reader (free software), to view content.
  • Word processing software, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs.
  • Some courses include video, therefore your computer must be capable of playing
    video and sound.

Will I receive a certificate at the end of my course?


Yes, most of our courses allow you to gain a qualification from the Irish Accreditation body QQI (Quality & Qualifications Ireland). The qualifications achieved after completion of our courses are at Level 5 and 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications and your QQI award/certificate will reflect this.

Who writes the courses?


All of the courses available on The Open College Distance Learning programme have been written by our own inhouse team of professionally qualified industry experienced lecturers/tutors and are updated regularly to ensure that the information is accurate and relevant.

Forms & Useful Links



» Interim Course Student Feedback Form

» End of Course Student Feedback Form

» Extension Request Form

» Deferral Request Form

» Assessment Declaration Form


Useful links for the visually impaired:

A free web browser for the visually impaired can be downloaded here: Web Browser for the Visually Impaired.

A free screen reader that can read the content of this website is available for download here: Screen Reader for the Visually Impaired.


Open College Student Charter:

» Click Here to view our Student Charter.


Open College’s Learning Environment:

» Click Here to view our Learning Environment.



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