Recognition within Ireland

The National Council for Exercise & Fitness (NCEF) is an academic affiliate of the University of Limerick (UL) offering the only university accredited Health Fitness Instructor qualification in Ireland.  

The National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) is a mechanism for recognising all education and training in Ireland. The NFQ is a system of ten levels and is used to describe the Irish qualifications system.  

A key element of the NFQ is to improve access (entry) to education and training, transfer within and between education and training and progression within and between education and training.  Thus the NFQ aims to make the qualifications system easier to understand, thus facilitating recognition of qualifications both at home and abroad.  The NCEF qualifications are placed as follows on the NFQ:

Year 1: Certificate in Exercise and Health Fitness (CEHF) Level 6, Minor

Year 2: Higher Certificate in Exercise and Health Fitness (HCEHF) Level 6, Major

Year 3: Diploma in Exercise and Health Fitness (DEHF) Level 7

Year 4: BSc. in Exercise and Health Fitness  Level 8

International Recognition

1. Qualifications Standards:

The NFQ is significant for NCEF Graduates in the international context as qualifications (awards) in the NFQ are recognised in Ireland and abroad.  Therefore, the NCEF is the only fitness instructor provider in Ireland who’s qualifications are place on the EQF.

In 2005 EU ministers adopted a Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area known as the Bologna process. The three main rationales behind the framework were to ensure 1. International transparency of qualifications, 2.  International recognition of qualifications and 3. International mobility of learners and graduates.  In November 2006, Ireland became the first European country to verify the compatibility of the NFQ with the Bologna Framework. The NFQ was referenced to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) in June 2009. This means that qualifications in the NFQ can be looked at to decide how they compare to those of other countries. Qualifications in the NFQ are thus more widely recognised and easily understood abroad.

The NCEF qualifications are placed as follows on the EQF:

Year 1: Certificate in Exercise and Health Fitness (CEHF), Level 5

Year 2: Higher Certificate in Exercise and Health Fitness (HCEHF), Level 5

Year 3: Diploma in Exercise and Health Fitness (DEHF), Level 6

Year 4: BSc. Degree in Exercise and Health Fitness,  Level 6

2. European Industry Standards

The NCEF received accreditation by the European Health Fitness Association (EHFA) in October 2009. EHFA is the EU approved industry standards setting body for the European health and fitness sector.  The EHFA Standards are aligned to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) to clearly identify the knowledge, skills and competencies required for fitness instructing occupations.  

In spring 2014 the NCEF completed the mapping of the CEHF & HCEHF to European industry standards Exercise for Health Specialist,  EQF Level 5.  

EHFA standards commenced mapping the Fitness Industry minimum standard with individual training providers throughout Europe. They began by aligning industry standards to academic Qualification structures agreeing what the jobs and skills were required for today and also looking to the future.  Qualifications for fitness occupations as implemented by the EHFA standards looked at the specific job requirements.

The first level to be mapped in 2005 by EHFA was ‘Level 3 EQF, followed by Level 4 EQF and then in 2012 EQF Level 5 Exercise for Health Specialist The NCEF through Central YMCA Qualifications (CYQ) completed the industry mapping process facilitated by REPS Ireland who are operating a register of fitness professionals and in tandem developing and maintaining a list of approved industry providers of education and training in the fitness industry in Ireland. This has resulted in the NCEF becoming the first and only organisation in Ireland offering training and qualification for graduates meeting both the academic NFQ & EQF and the European Industry Standards- Exercise for Health Specialist, EQF Level 5.  

NCEF qualifications have been audited and aligned to the following EHFA standards:

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