Guidance

Apply to have your qualifications regulated

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

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.

Being an Ofqual-regulated awarding organisation

Becoming recognised

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 - an Ofqual-approved provider - 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.

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 provider 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 EPAs, read Regulation of new 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, 126KB, 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.

If you think being a regulated awarding organisation is the right choice for you, email strategic.relationships@ofqual.gov.uk to request the link to the application form. You will 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 recognised

Following the conversation, if you think you are ready to proceed to application, we can continue to advise you to ensure you are providing sufficient supporting evidence. We will review your application against our Criteria for Recognition. If your application and supporting information meets our minimum requirements, we would normally invite you to discuss your application with a recognition panel who decide whether to recognise you.

Apply to expand your scope of recognition

If you are already recognised, you will need additional recognition if you want to offer:

  • regulated qualifications in a wider range of sector subject areas
  • regulated qualifications at other levels than your current recognition
  • qualifications which have specific conditions or criteria

Complete an enquiry form and we will contact you to discuss how to expand your scope of recognition and what information and evidence you will need to provide. You should explain in the enquiry form how the new qualifications you wish to offer are similar to or differ from your current qualifications.

End your recognition

To stop some or all of your qualifications from being regulated by Ofqual, email us at strategic.relationships@ofqual.gov.uk to tell us which qualifications you no longer want to be regulated. We will contact you to discuss the next steps including the final dates your qualifications will be available to learners in a regulated form.

Once you have surrendered recognition for a qualification, we’ll remove it from the Register of Regulated Qualifications, and you must stop using the Ofqual logo on it.

Published 21 September 2012
Last updated 28 September 2018 + show all updates
  1. Added new becoming recognised video
  2. Updated recognition process - the first stage is now to book a meeting with Ofqual before filling in an application form.
  3. Updated links to the new application forms.
  4. Noted the application form will be replaced soon.
  5. Expanded the information on applying to offer more qualifications.
  6. Amended to make it easier to follow and include information about end-point assessments.
  7. Added link to Recognition explained video
  8. Updated links to point to the new guidance document and new forms.
  9. Clarified when to complete the recognition form if you are already recognised.
  10. First published.