Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

RCSI independent degree awarding status

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland was established under royal charter in 1784 and has been a recognised college of the National University of Ireland (NUI) since 1978.

In 2003, the Oireachtas passed a Private Act, the RCSI (Charters Amendment) Act, 2003, amending the RCSI charters to enable the College to award degrees. In accordance with the Act, RCSI submitted bye-laws for approval to the then Minister for Education and Skills in 2009 seeking to have its statutory degree-awarding powers commenced. In February 2010 the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI) and the Higher Education Authority (HEA) were requested by the Department of Education and Skills to conduct an institutional review of RCSI and to advise the minister on the matter. The terms of reference for this review were agreed in March 2010.

HEA and NQAI recruited a panel of very experienced individuals, based nationally and internationally, to form an external review panel and to conduct the review of the RCSI. Collectively the panel had the capacity to contribute their expertise from the medical, quality assurance, operations and management, research, regulatory and student perspectives. The site visit for the review took place from 19th to 21st May 2010.

During this time, the external panel considered RCSI's Self-Assessment Report (SAR), reviewed the outcomes of a public consultation regarding RCSI's request to be granted degree-awarding powers and undertook discussions with 25 groups of internal and external stakeholders. The report of the external panel recommended unequivocally that degree-awarding status should be awarded to the RCSI.

The full report, which incorporates a series of commendations and recommendations, and includes details of the panel members and of the site visit schedule is available here.

In its response to the external panel report, the RCSI acknowledged the recommendations made by the panel and stated the College's commitment to addressing these recommendations in preparation for a second review by the end of 2012.

The external panel report and the RCSI response were submitted to the Boards of HEA and NQAI as evidence upon which to form the advice requested by the Minister for Education and Skills regarding the granting of degree-awarding powers to the RCSI.

On October 4th 2010 HEA and NQAI issued a joint letter to the Minister for Education and Skills stating that, in the opinion of both authorities, the Minister should approve the bye-laws submitted by the RCSI granting the College statutory degree-awarding powers.

The authorities also supported the External Panel's recommendation that a further review of the RCSI should take place no later than 2012 (under the aegis of NQAI) to establish the College's level of implementation of the recommendations set out in the external panel report. On October 12th 2010 the Minister for Education and Skills issued formal notification of the decision to grant degree-awarding powers to the RCSI.