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Qualification fees: CCEA Regulation, Ofqual and Qualifications Wales take action to improve transparency on exam fees

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​CCEA Regulation, Ofqual and Qualifications Wales have published the decisions of their joint consultation into changes to the rules that regulated awarding organisations must follow in each jurisdiction.

The regulators have all adopted three substantive changes to their rules following a detailed analysis of the consultation responses:

1. All regulated awarding organisations must publish on their website fee information about their qualifications in a standard format that is easily accessible to potential purchasers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Ofqual will retain its existing requirement that awarding organisations must provide fee information to purchasers in markets outside England upon request. 

2. All regulated awarding organisations must publish a policy that makes clear to users of qualifications whether or not they recognise prior learning. Each awarding organisation will have the flexibility to determine its own approach to producing its policy. The proposed rule has been amended to make clear that there is no necessity for awarding organisations to recognise prior learning.

3. The introduction of an explicit new rule that the regulators can use to instruct awarding organisations not to issue results. This change will make sure the regulators can act quickly in the rare cases where it is necessary to secure a delay in the issuing of results. They do not expect or intend to intervene more often as a result of this change.

The first two changes will be introduced on 1 October 2020, to align with the need for awarding organisations to state compliance with each regulators' rules on an annual basis. The third change will take effect in early March 2020, as it does not impose any proactive requirements on awarding organisations.

Today's decisions follow a joint consultation that ran from 2 August to 25 October 2019 which was in response to a  call for evidence into fee information, purchasing decisions and securing value for money

NAHT responded to this call for evidence on behalf of members. In our response we said:

'Ofqual regulations offer significant flexibility to awarding organisations about how they make their fee information available. This could cause inconsistency between awarding organisations, which in turn impacts on the accessibility and comparability of that pricing information for schools.

If schools are to be able to make informed decisions about qualifications effectively, then there must be a clear and simple way for them to compare 'like with like'.  A more uniform approach would be beneficial, particularly for vocational qualifications.

Timely provision of qualification pricing information is also necessary.  Updated pricing for the 2018/19 academic year was not available at the end of August 2018 from some of the main awarding organisations. This lack of up to date information makes it extremely difficult for schools to plan their upcoming expenditure, which at a time of funding crisis, is critical.'

We are therefore pleased that the regulators have recognised this issue and taken action to improve fee transparency for our members.

First published 28 February 2020