September 26, 2022

How to Become an External Quality Assurer

An External Quality Assurer, also known as an EQA, is someone who for an Awarding Body whose work involves dealing with centres such as colleges, training organisations, companies and institutions offering the Awarding Body’s qualifications. 

An External Quality Assurer (EQA) is an important and much sought-after role, offering not only the status of being a key person both for the Awarding Body and the centres themselves but also plenty of interesting work experience with no two centres or companies being the same.

What will I be doing as an External Quality Assurer (EQA)?

As an EQA you’ll be responsible for External Quality Assurance on behalf of awarding bodies and will report back to them with your assessment.

This includes checking centres that offer the Awarding Body’s qualifications to make sure that they are operating correctly, as well as providing support and guidance to help them comply with the requirements that come with offering official courses.

External Quality Assurance work often involves visiting centres to carry out checks such as:

  • Checking that centre’s own Internal Quality Assurance (IQA) takes place correctly 
  • Comparing centre’s assessments with the Awarding Body requirements, to ensure that assessments are fair and robust
  • Making sure that the quality of assessors is consistent so that all learners receive the same assessment standards wherever they are studying 
  • Ensuring that each centre has enough qualified staff and adequate resources to offer their courses and assessments properly
  • Meeting with centre staff such as assessors, IQAs, managers etc to check that they are up to date within their roles
  • Meeting and interviewing learners at centres to check that they are being given the support and guidance needed, and are being assessed fairly
  • Reviewing learner portfolios, assessment records and course work to make sure that they are correct and up to date
  • Looking at the centre’s enrolment processes to ensure that learners are enrolled correctly and are on the correct courses

Being responsible for External Quality Assurance is not just about checking up on centres, you’ll also be heavily involved in supporting centres, advising their staff, and guiding them to help them comply with the requirements set by the Awarding Body with your expertise.

The requirements for the awarding bodies will often include:

  • Keeping centres up to date with changes in qualifications 
  • Helping assessors, tutors and IQAs maintain up-to-date knowledge of their subject areas
  • Letting centre staff know good practice on storing documentation and evidence of assessments
  • Sharing advice on the best processes and practices for IQAs and assessors
  • Discussing new technology and assessment methods within centres
  • Advising on how to adapt assessment processes to meet learner’s needs, whilst still conforming to the Awarding Body requirements
    …and many other things as well.

So, think of being an EQA as being part of the essential support to enable centres to provide consistency in their qualifications and be compliant with their awarding organisation. 

In many ways, both centres and Awarding Bodies rely on External Quality Assurance to ensure compliance, advice and guidance.

The centres require an EQA for a direct link to the Awarding Bodies and for first-hand guidance on how to comply with the requirements.

Whereas the Awarding Bodies require an External Quality Assuranceer to make sure that their qualifications are being offered correctly and that their customers and centres are given the support they need.

If there were no External Quality Assurers (EQAs) within this process for each, then there would be a rapid breakdown of the whole qualifications system and a degradation of the high levels of trust UK qualifications have amongst the public.

External Quality Assurers (EQAs) tend to be qualified individuals with plenty of experience in their subject areas, a flair for getting along with people and really good organisational ability. 

You’ll often find yourself working part-time as an EQA, or on a flexible as-and-when-required basis, so it’s ideal if you already have other work commitments or want a decent work-life balance.

What qualifications do I need to become an External Quality Assurer (EQA)?

Although all Awarding Bodies differ slightly in their exact requirements for EQAs, typically you’ll be required to have:

  • Expertise and experience in your subject area, this could be through your work experience, whether in or out of the education sector
  • Experience in teaching, assessing and internal quality assurance, again this could be through work or even what you do outside work as a volunteer or in the community
  • First-rate communication skills, both in writing and face to face, as you’ll be dealing with a wide range of people and institutions
  • Flexibility to travel to different centres throughout the UK, or throughout your region
  • An enthusiastic approach to disseminating your knowledge and skills to other people

You’ll also need a suitable EQA qualification, or at least be working towards one. 

What EQA qualification do I need?

The most typical requirement for the role is to have Level 4 EQA Award in External Quality Assurance of Assessment Processes and Practice (RQF), which is widely recognised as the full qualification to have for prospective and practicing EQAs. 

It has the magic letters RQF in the title, which means it is regulated by Ofqual. This award has also superseded previous qualifications such as the D34/D35, V1 and V2 Verifiers Awards. It involves both theory and practical assignments as befits a comprehensive EQA qualification. 

If this full External Quality Assurance qualification sounds a bit too much for you, or if you don’t yet have the contacts or ability to visit various centres as required to complete the practical part, then you ought to consider Level 4 EQA Qualification in Understanding the External Quality Assurance of Assessment Processes and Practice (RQF)

This qualification gives you all the theoretical background of the full qualification but without the need to complete the practical part. Although you will usually be required to eventually gain the full qualification, this smaller, cheaper theory-only award might be enough to show an Awarding Body that you’ve got what it takes for the External Quality Assurer (EQA) role and lead to a job and thus a rewarding career.

If you’re still unsure of what the best qualification is for you and your future career as an External Quality Assurer (EQA) then please reach out to us and we will guide you in the right direction.

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