Degree apprenticeships: a guide for higher education providers

Checking the quality of apprenticeships

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) set out the roles of the different organisations involved in the quality of apprenticeships in their Apprenticeship accountability statement. This is summarised in the table below:

  Responsible body

Overall accountability for quality, including the occupational standard and the end-point assessment

The Department for Education (DfE) acting through the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)

Apprenticeship standards development, review, and approval

Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

Quality of training provision

Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted)

Quality of qualifications in Register of Regulated Qualifications

Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual)

Standards of higher education qualifications awarded by degree awarding bodies

Office for Students (OfS)

In April 2021 Ofsted became responsible for the inspection of apprenticeship provision at all levels. This was recommended in the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding 2019, to ensure consistent judgements and approaches across the provision.

This means that Ofsted inspects all apprenticeship training at OfS registered providers and reports its judgements to the ESFA and the OfS.

The ESFA, as the body with overall accountability for the apprenticeship programme, determines any action necessary on the basis of its intervention policy.

Where we can take assurance from the ESFA that it will take appropriate action we are unlikely to take regulatory action in relation to the quality of a provider’s apprenticeships.

We also consider whether Ofsted’s judgements provide evidence that there might be quality and standards concern beyond apprenticeships at a provider.

We included apprenticeships as a distinct group in our consultation on the regulation of student outcomes.

The OfS’s role in external quality assurance

Apprentices must complete an end-point assessment to demonstrate what they've learnt.

External quality assurance monitors the delivery of these assessments to ensure that they are fair, consistent and robust across different apprenticeship standards and between different end-point assessment organisations.

The OfS is responsible for the external quality assurance of OfS registered providers that deliver integrated higher and degree apprenticeships. These providers are therefore responsible for delivering the end-point assessment themselves, rather than an independent end-point assessment organisation.

Ofqual are responsible for the external quality assurance of the majority of non-integrated apprenticeships at Levels 2 to 7.

In a small number of cases the external quality assurance of non-integrated apprenticeships will be provided by a statutory regulator determined by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

Last updated 22 September 2023
22 September 2023
Updated information about quality assurance.
21 February 2022
Content reviewed and updated

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