The IfATE has launched (27 February) a consultation on plans to reform External Quality Assurance (EQA) for Apprenticeship End Point Assessment (EPA).
Positively, the Institute’s proposal that all external quality assurance should be delivered by either Ofqual or OfS is to be welcomed. The current system where Trailblazers can choose from Ofqual, the Institute (which subcontracted its role to an Awarding Organisation), a professional body or employers themselves has raised issues regarding consistency and quality. It had been assumed that QAA would undertake EQA for integrated Degree Apprenticeships, but this had never been formally confirmed. Under current arrangements 20 organisations are approved to deliver EQA.
Restricting the EQA to the statutory regulators, Ofqual and OfS is to be welcomed. The proposal that OfS would provide EQA for integrated Degree Apprenticeship is entirely appropriate. Such an approach will ensure quality and consistency and we suspect will lead to more Trailblazers choosing an integrated Degree Apprenticeship model. This is, of course, subject to the ability of employers to specify a mandatory degree in accordance with the IfATE mandatory qualification rule. Ofqual having the EQA role for Apprenticeships at level 2 and 3 makes eminent sense.
Our concern rests with arrangements for Higher Apprenticeships and non-integrated Degree Apprenticeships. At the moment it is proposed Ofqual would have the EQA role for such programmes. We will be interested in the response of professional and statutory regulatory bodies (PSRBs) to this proposal. We will also be interested to know whether/how such an EQA role will relate to the degree component of the Apprenticeship. It is essential any such role is supported by and considered appropriate by employers, PSRBs and dovetails with OfS requirements.
The consultation closes on the 9th April 2020. UVAC will be producing a comprehensive response.