About HECA

The Higher Education Colleges Association (HECA) is an association of respected, independent, private providers of quality higher level education. We formed in 1991 to represent the interests of its member colleges.

Our Members

Current HECA membership comprises most of the major independent colleges in the country.  Membership is restricted to colleges meeting and abiding by stringent academic and operating regulatory criteria.

Membership Criteria

HECA members must be current providers of a programme or programmes at Level 7 and/or above on the Irish National Framework of Qualifications, (INFQ), which are approved and validated by Quality and Qualifications Ireland, (QQI).

Benefits of HECA

Our plans are strategically aligned to the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030. HECA member Colleges are developing innovative programme development and delivery practices with a particular emphasis on distance and blended leaning. They are recognised as offering the highest quality student experience through rigorous feedback, strong progression and completion rates and external recognition.

HECA member colleges are regularly establishing research and innovation initiatives for the design and delivery of programming, professional training, regulation and compliance and teacher training and development.

HECA member colleges engage with the wider society and have become a destination of choice for employers seeking to meet industry needs and continue to promote the brand of Irish education and private education overseas by seeking to attract significant numbers of international students.

  • The HECA Vision

    We are nationally and internationally recognised. We stand for high quality programmes that are flexible, innovative and market responsive.

  • Our HECA Values

    HECA are committed to excellence in the provision of high quality education and pastoral care, to a culture of professionalism, integrity, honesty and openness and embracing diversity of membership. We are also committed to individual opinions and the exchange of ideas, knowledge and expertise.

  • The Purpose of HECA

    We provide a forum to discuss common issues, concerns and opportunities to implement solutions. We help create an environment that fosters sharing ideas, forming collaborations and instigating mutually beneficial initiatives. We act as a lobby and support group to serve common academic and commercial interests and HECA provides a unified voice in government and legislative circles and seeks representation on key government committees and boards.

Official Voice

As one of the official voices of independent third and fourth level education, HECA represents the independent colleges on:

  • Department of Education & Skills – High Level Group on International Education
  • Departments of Justice & Equality and Education & Skills Regulatory Reform Stakeholders Group
  • Management Body of the Roadmap for Employment-Academic Partnership (REAP)
  • Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) Consultative Forum
  • Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) International Education Mark Code of Practice Advisory Group
  • HEA’s National Survey of Employers’ views of Irish Further Education and Training and Higher Education outcomes
  • National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning
  • Higher Education Authority – Springboard Advisory Group
  • Irish Higher Education Quality Network (IHEQN)
  • Enterprise Ireland/Education in Ireland – India Trusted Agents Group

What our members say about us

Open Training College

A relatively new member of HECA, the Open Training College has benefited significantly by connecting into a network of independent education providers sharing a similar commitment to the enhancement of education. The HECA forum provides opportunities for discussion, debate, creativity and the sharing of ideas and approaches – in short a community of learning that enriches all concerned and ultimately contributes to excellence and quality in higher education.

Open Training College Karen Finnerty
College of Computer Training (CCT)

HECA has enhanced our opportunity to network and be closely connected to other higher education institutions in Ireland. It provides for a dynamic, interactive, environment where members can share experience on various facets of education and training delivery. HECA plays a vital role in actively representing the independent sector of higher education inIreland. This benefits our staff and students of course.

College of Computer Training (CCT)Neil Gallagher
Saint Nicholas Montessori College Ireland

Saint Nicholas Montessori College Ireland (SNMCI) has found the collective expertise within HECA valuable.  Irrespective of the size of the institution, all opinions are valued and shared, which has enabled HECA to engage purposefully with State agencies such as the Higher Education Authority and Quality and Qualifications Ireland.  As I strive to provide the best learning experience for students in SNMCI, the collaborative approach within HECA supports me to deliver that goal.

Saint Nicholas Montessori College IrelandIan McKenna
IBAT College

HECA is the preeminent representative body for the Independent Higher Education sector in Ireland. IBAT College has benefited enormously from the networking opportunity afforded by HECA. HECA provides an unparalleled forum for individual members to interact in a dynamic and engaging way on all aspects of Higher Education. This benefits IBAT as an organisation its staff and students.

IBAT CollegeShane Ormsby