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How to Become an External Quality Assurer

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We get a lot of people asking us how to become an External Quality Assurer #EQA, and it’s easy to see why. EQA is one of the most highly coveted and important positions in Further Education, offering the flexibility, opportunity and challenges many professionals crave. 

As an Awarding Organisation, TQUK relies on EQAs every day. They are the support structure that guarantees that our centres can deliver compliant qualifications, deliver quality assessments and adhere to the qualification requirements that we set out.

What does an EQA do?

The purpose of an External Quality Assurer (EQA) is to quality assure the operations of centres to make certain that they meet standards set by their Awarding Organisation. They are the representatives of their Awarding Organisations and are responsible for supporting centres so that they have everything they need.

EQAs are an essential part of an Awarding Organisation’s quality assurance process.  They conduct activities with centres to:

  • Check assessment practice and procedures against Awarding Organisation and centre requirements, ensuring that all systems for assessment are effective;
  • Check that internal quality assurance (IQA) judgements meet the requirements of the qualification specification and that a robust IQA policy and procedure is in place;
  • Check the quality and consistency of assessor judgements made by, among other things, sampling assignments and reviewing assessment records;
  • Check that the staff and resources allocated to the delivery of qualifications are adequate and meet the needs of the qualification, the centre and the learners;
  • Meet with staff and learners in centres to discuss aspects of the qualifications, including the assessment process, resources and student support /mentoring arrangements.

Awarding Organisations usually work with a large bank of EQAs that conduct activities with centres all over the UK. However, being an EQA isn’t just about making sure a centre is compliant. It’s also about supporting the centre’s staff and giving them advice and guidance to help them improve.

How do EQAs fit into an Awarding Organisation’s structure?

As an Awarding Organisation, we sell trust to the public. By awarding certificates to learners and providing Centre Recognition to centres, we are telling the public that these learners and these centres meet the quality standards we set out.

Without EQAs, we would not be able to do this.

EQAs usually liaise with a central quality team at their Awarding Organisation about centre activities. During their centre activities, EQAs can set actions for centres to complete so that they can become more compliant with the standards set by their Awarding Organisation. Whether it’s suggesting improvements to their sampling process, reviewing assessor and IQA decisions or ensuring centres understand the requirements of assessment, EQAs are a vital source of knowledge and advice that centres can rely on to set them on the right track.

Who can become an EQA?

You can become an EQA if you have the following:

  • Subject expertise in a particular qualification
  • A recognised qualification in assessing
  • A recognised qualification in internal quality assurance
  • A recognised qualification in external quality assurance
  • The ability to travel
  • Good communication skills, both verbal and written
  • The ability to interact with a wide variety of people
  • Self-motivation and good organisation skills

What do you mean by ‘subject expertise’?

EQAs basically inspect a centre’s ability to deliver a qualification. As a result, prospective EQAs will need a deep knowledge of the subject area and the qualification in question. Several years of experience in the sector are required.

As you may be able to guess, many EQAs tend to be experienced professionals who want to impart their knowledge and help people train the next generation of experts. They enjoy the flexibility of the role and love sharing their knowledge of good training and assessment practices with other people.

If you have loads of knowledge and experience in a particular sector, then you’re halfway there. The only other things you’ll need are the appropriate qualifications.

What are some of the qualifications I’ll need?

Prospective EQAs must have qualifications in assessment and internal quality assurance. It would also be a benefit to have a teaching qualification.

Thinking of getting started? TQUK offers all the qualifications any prospective EQA may need:

Top Tips:

People looking to become EQAs should be sure to take the right qualifications. It can be easy to take a qualification that doesn’t entirely meet your requirements.

The assessing, IQA and EQA qualifications listed above all have flexible suites of units that can be changed depending on the specific requirements.

For example, to receive the TQUK Level 3 Award in Assessing Vocational Achievement (RQF), you must achieve the following units:

Unit(s)

Unit no.

Level

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Guided Learning Hours

Credit Value

Understanding the principles and practices of assessment

D/601/5313

3

24

3

Assess vocational skills, knowledge and understanding

F/601/5319

3

30

6

Assess occupational competence in the work environment

H/601/5314

3

30

6

 

It should be noted that there are qualifications for the above subjects with ‘understanding’ in the title (eg TQUK Level 4 Award in Understanding the External Quality Assurance of Assessment Processes and Practice (RQF).

Achieving such a qualification would not allow the learner to practice as an EQA. While they would have the knowledge required, they would not have recognition of the practical skills to externally assure the quality of assessment.

The Perks of Being an EQA

There are many upsides to being an EQA. Here are just a few of them!

  • New People and New Experiences: Every day is a new experience when you’re an EQA. EQAs travel from centre to centre all across the UK, meeting new challenges in new environments with new people. No one visit is the same and this variety will challenge you every day and help you grow in your profession.
  • Passing On Your Knowledge: As an expert in your field, you’ll have all the knowledge and experience you’ll need to excel in your role. As you’ve reached the top, what better feeling could there be than the satisfaction of sharing your knowledge and experience to help a range of organisations grow and achieve their goals? As an EQA, you’ll play a vital role in ensuring that the training and skills in your sector are top-notch.
  • On the Road: Some people can’t stand being strapped to a desk for the 9-5 grind. They need to be moving all the time, ready for the next challenge. EQAs are always going from one assignment to the next, never anchoring themselves to a computer and a desk. Adventure awaits!
  • Flexibility: EQA work is usually on-demand, so hours are not always set. This means that EQA work can be the perfect supplement to other part-time or full-time work. EQAs get to set their hours for what suits their schedules which only adds to the appeal!
  • Many EmployersAs an EQA, you can work for many Awarding Organisations and don’t need to be tied to one exclusively. This will increase the variety and flexibility of your work.

To find your next EQA Job Check out FE Careers!

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