All Saints College, Dublin, or to give it its full name, The Master, Fellows and Scholars of All Saints College, was formed under the auspices of the Apostolic Episcopal Church as a private college of tertiary education in Dublin, Republic of Ireland, in 2015. The College was conceived as a small and distinctive Christian academic community based internationally and connected through the technology of the Internet, also partnering with campuses offering classroom-based education in Africa and Asia.
Responding to a number of issues, much of the educational work formerly assigned to European-American University in the Commonwealth of Dominica was transferred to the College during 2016. As a consequence, the College sought and gained incorporated status in the Republic of Ireland, establishing its registered office in Dalkey. The College held a successful convocation in September 2016.
The College established degree validation agreements with two well-established overseas universities: the Universidad Empresarial de Costa Rica and the former City University, Cambodia. A further partnership agreement existed with the Ruggero II University and the Norman Academy which are both recognized by the government of The Gambia. The College granted validated degrees on the basis of its status as a private college in the Republic of Ireland.
The governing instruments for higher education in the Republic of Ireland are Acts of Parliament published by the Houses of the Oireachtas. There are Acts that govern the state universities of the Republic, including National University of Ireland, University College Dublin, University College Maynooth, University College Cork, University of Limerick and Dublin City University. These Acts charter these universities to issue their own degrees with no requirement for further accreditation.
In addition to the university sector, there are also Acts of the Oireachtas which govern education provided by Ireland’s Institutes of Technology. These bodies provide education which leads to the qualifications of Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI).
For some three decades now, independent providers of tertiary education have established themselves in Ireland, leading to the development of a small but distinctive private higher education sector. Some providers, like All Saints College, established a validation agreement with overseas universities which allowed them to prepare students for degrees awarded by those universities. Some other institutions have sought validation from QQI for their programmes. The Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012 was the governing legislation in this respect as of 2016.
As of 2016, it was not a legal requirement for the awards of independent providers to be validated by QQI. Nor was there any legal prohibition or restriction on independent providers issuing their own awards, including degrees. A good number of those bodies whose awards were validated by QQI issued their own awards as well as QQI awards. Others chose not to have their awards validated by QQI or were ineligible for such validation. In the case of All Saints College, it chose instead to be validated by two foreign government-recognized universities, the Universidad Empresarial de Costa Rica and City University, Cambodia. The College also determined that it was not reasonably practicable for its awards to be submitted for recognition on the National Framework of Qualifications in Ireland. The reasons for these choices were primarily that the individualized and bespoke model that was at the heart of the College’s provision was not suited to a standardized mass education validation process, since no two programmes were exactly the same.
As a result, the degrees issued by All Saints College had no relationship to QQI and its awards, or to the National Framework of Qualifications in Ireland. The College was itself responsible for quality assurance and related matters.
Degrees issued by All Saints College in Ireland in its own right as an independent tertiary institution are fully legal, and were issued under the powers of the College’s registration as a private company limited by shares under the Companies Act 2014 (no. 589464). Clause 38 of the Companies Act 2014 states as follows:
38. (1) Subject to subsection (2), notwithstanding anything contained in its constitution a company shall have, whether acting inside or outside of the State—(a) full and unlimited capacity to carry on and undertake any business or activity, do any act or enter into any transaction; and (b) for the purposes of paragraph (a), full rights, powers and privileges. (2) Nothing in subsection (1) shall relieve a company from any duty or obligation under any enactment or the general law.
Since the granting of degrees is not restricted by general law, the Companies Act 2014 gives full rights, powers and privileges to grant degrees both in Ireland and outside it.
In 2017, the College’s degree-granting powers were transferred to the Western Orthodox University and its company registration was dissolved. The College continues to exist today, however, as a constituent division of the Western Orthodox University, and that division comprises the Fellows and graduates of the College. Although there is no provision for the further award of degrees in its own right, the College retains the ability to elect suitable persons to its Fellowship in the future.