Who and what Ofqual regulates, how to apply to be regulated and what happens when you want to stop being regulated.

The role of awarding organisations

Awarding organisations can choose to be regulated by Ofqual. If you want us to regulate some or all of your qualifications, you can apply to become a recognised awarding organisation of those qualifications. You’ll need to ensure you have a full understanding of what being Ofqual-recognised means: it’s a major undertaking that confers significant benefits but also imposes requirements that will have an impact on your business, because regulated organisations must comply with our regulations.

Being an Ofqual-regulated awarding organisation

An awarding organisation designs, develops, delivers and awards qualifications, including in some cases apprenticeship end-point assessments (EPAs). Qualifications test knowledge, skills and understanding of a subject and are awarded to learners who demonstrate the required level of attainment.

Awarding organisations offer qualifications to meet the need of their customers: schools, colleges and training providers that teach the courses that lead to their qualifications. Awarding organisations put in place the exams, tests and other assessments that students take to achieve their qualifications. A good awarding organisation will combine expertise in assessment with effective operational delivery.

Main benefits

The benefits of being a recognised awarding organisation are:

  • your qualifications can be considered for public funding for teaching in state and publicly funded schools and colleges
  • recognition provides confidence to qualification users that your organisation has the capacity and competence to develop and offer high-quality qualifications
  • certificates for regulated qualifications can carry the Ofqual logo – a recognised quality mark
  • your qualifications will be regulated internationally, as well as in England, provided that they continue to be offered and taken in England - the Ofqual quality mark is valued internationally
  • your qualifications will be listed on the Register of Regulated Qualifications - an important resource for those wanting to find a suitable qualification
  • if you’re an apprenticeship end-point assessment organisation (EPAO), you can offer EPAs where Ofqual has been selected by the trailblazer to provide external quality assessment

Apprenticeship end-point assessments

Ofqual is one of the 4 options for external quality assurance available to apprenticeship trailblazers. Where we are chosen to provide external quality assurance, we regulate EPAs as a qualification. So if you want to offer EPAs where we provide external quality assurance, you will need to be recognised by us. For more information on apprenticeship EPAs, read our approach to external quality assurance of apprenticeship end-point assessments.

How to apply for recognition

We have a process to decide whether you can become a recognised awarding organisation. Further details are in the supporting information document.

The Recognition Process (PDF, 161KB, 1 page)

Before starting an application, be aware that there are very clear limits to what we regulate. For example we do not regulate training courses that only certify that someone attended a course but do not make judgements about an attendee’s level of attainment.

Starting the process

First, read our ‘supporting information’, review our regulations and our Criteria for Recognition and our guidance for the Criteria.

If you think being a regulated awarding organisation is the right choice for you, apply through our Recognition Gateway. You will need to set up an account to use this. Before doing this please read our Privacy Statement (PDF, 134KB, 4 pages).

Please refer to this guidance document (PDF, 2.26MB, 26 pages) for support to set up a gateway account and Multi-factor authentication.

Once you have set up an account, you will then be offered a meeting with Ofqual staff. This meeting should take place before starting your application. The meeting will help you understand our requirements and the application process. We will talk about:

  • what it means to be an Ofqual-regulated awarding organisation so you are fully aware of our expectations
  • the types of qualifications you intend to offer
  • how you will ensure quality
  • how you intend to operate as an awarding organisation once recognise

Following the meeting, if you want to proceed with an application, we will provide you with access to the application form. We can continue to advise you to ensure you are providing sufficient supporting evidence.

When you are ready, you should use the gateway to submit your application and evidence. We will then review your application against our Criteria for Recognition. If your application and supporting information indicates that you are capable of meeting our criteria, we would normally invite you to discuss your application with a recognition panel who decide whether to recognise you as an awarding organisation.

If you are an existing awarding organisation

If you would like to make a change to your current scope of recognition or withdraw qualifications, please log into The Portal and navigate to the ‘My Organisation’ page where you can view your scope of recognition and request to:

  • expand your scope of recognition to offer regulated qualifications in a wider range of sector subject areas, at different levels than you are currently regulated for, or to offer qualifications that have specific conditions or criteria
  • exempt a description or descriptions of qualifications from your scope of recognition

Surrender and partial-surrender

If you would like to partially surrender or surrender entirely your regulated status please submit a ‘Contact the Regulator’ request on The Portal and we will get back to you to explain any further information or evidence you will need to provide with your request.

Published 21 September 2012
Last updated 24 June 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated the guidance for existing awarding organisations.

  2. Updated link provided in 'Apprenticeship end-point assessments' section.

  3. Guidance document updated for setting up a gateway account.

  4. Updated the supporting videos.

  5. Made clearer what happens after you submit your application to us, and what standards you will be evaluated against.

  6. Updates to recognition process, formatting and new logo

  7. Removed 'Apply to expand the scope of your recognition' and 'End your recognition' sections and replaced them with a new 'If you are an existing awarding organisation' section.

  8. Added new becoming recognised video

  9. Updated recognition process - the first stage is now to book a meeting with Ofqual before filling in an application form.

  10. Updated links to the new application forms.

  11. Noted the application form will be replaced soon.

  12. Expanded the information on applying to offer more qualifications.

  13. Amended to make it easier to follow and include information about end-point assessments.

  14. Added link to Recognition explained video

  15. Updated links to point to the new guidance document and new forms.

  16. Clarified when to complete the recognition form if you are already recognised.

  17. First published.

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