The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) which regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England has formally issued Industry Qualifications (IQ) with a notice explaining their intention to fine them £50,000. The notice was issued on only one of the 19 centres identified in the 2015 BBC One Expose, Inside Out London.
The statement from Ofqual considers that IQ breached 13 General Conditions of Recognition in relation to an incident in February 2015. Their enforcement committee found that IQ:
- failed to identify conflicts of interest when it decided to work with a college
- did not make sure candidate work which was marked at the college was properly moderated
- did not properly investigate alleged malpractice at the college
- took action against learners accused of malpractice without properly investigating the truth of the allegations
- did not put in place an adequate appeals process for learners affected by its decisions
A summary of the legal document served on Industry Qualifications IQ, known as a notice of intention to impose a monetary penalty, has been provided.
Industry Qualifications will have until 20 March 2017 to provide evidence or material in support of its case. Interested parties can also send related evidence and material to Ofqual during the same period.
In response to the announcement, Raymond Clarke, Chief Executive of Industry Qualifications (IQ), said: “IQ does not accept the vast majority of allegations that have been made against it, and it should be clear that the penalty is still subject to review by Ofqual. We intend to take the matter to independent appeal.
“The basis for the appeal will be that Ofqual has not operated in accordance with its own or public policies, the enforcement action has been disproportionate and partial, and that decision making has been conflicted.
“Throughout the process IQ has highlighted the failure of the regulator to acknowledge and confront the issue of qualifications fraud. It has also raised concerns about the competence of Ofqual to deal with safety critical qualifications. Full details of our response are available on the IQ web-site“.
One of the issues Ofqual have criticised IQ for was allowing the centre owner to be an assessor. Leaving aside that this is common practice across awarding organisations and is an entirely new interpretation of the Condition of Recognition dealing with conflicts of interest, most small training companies would be excluded from the qualifications framework or their costs would rise significantly.