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How We Regulate

The main way we regulate is by setting the standards and rules that awarding organisations need to meet when they design, deliver and award regulated qualifications. We monitor awarding organisations and qualifications to make sure that standards are maintained. We are a risk-based regulator and concentrate our resources to where they are most needed. For example, we may discover that an awarding organisation’s processes need updating or that there are risks connected to a qualification taken by thousands of students every year.

Awarding organisations are part of the education system which also includes employers, individuals, schools and colleges who buy qualifications.  We regulate the education system by looking at problems which may occur and where there are problems in the system we make recommendations.

As well as monitoring awarding organisations and qualifications, we look at the whole qualifications and exams system. We investigate and do research to make sure the system is fit for purpose. Every year we produce an annual qualifications market report that looks at the organisations that provide qualifications, those that make use of them and how well the system meets the needs of those who use qualifications. We also regulate the National Curriculum assessments and the Early Years Foundation Stage assessments.

When we decide whether to recognise organisations to award regulated qualifications, we judge their applications against the Recognition Criteria. Read more about the benefits of becoming a recognised awarding organisation and the process for recognition in this section.

Once recognised, each awarding organisation is subject to the General Conditions of Recognition:

General Conditions of Recognition (November 2014)

as well as any other applicable regulations or subject criteria. The General Conditions were last updated in November 2014. This version replaces all previous versions of the General Conditions.

The relationships we have with the organisations we regulate are important to us. In June 2014 we published the findings of research we commissioned to look at what awarding organisations think about our approach to regulation. We have also published a summary of these findings and our response.

Evaluating Ofqual’s Relationships with Awarding Organisations, Research Report

Opinion Leader research: Evaluating Ofqual’s Relationships with Awarding Organisations, Our summary and response

Three country regulation

We have agreed principles for three country regulation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They will support decision-making when regulating qualifications which may be subject to more than one country’s regulatory requirements.

Download Ofqual’s principles for regulating qualifications

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