Ofqual fines Pearson £85,000 over widespread certification failures

Ofqual fines Pearson £85,000 over widespread certification failures

An £85,000 fine set to be waged on Pearson will be Ofqual’s second financial penalty against an awarding organisation.

The Ofqual notice explained that in May 2012 Pearson notified Ofqual that it had acquired Education Development International PLC, and “intended to cease registration of all EDI branded qualifications by January 2014 and complete certification for those qualifications by January 2017”.

But the awarding organisation admitted last April that an “incident” had occurred with the transfer of data — including learner results — about active EDI centres to a new online delivery platform, known as Qualification Management Application release 2, or QMA.

Ofqual said that Pearson had confirmed in March and April 2016 that, as a result of the incident, it had issued 1,566 vocational qualification certificates which recorded incorrect results; 41 certificates which incorrectly recorded a learner’s name; and 551 incorrect results.

It also conceded that 10,851 certificates had been issued outside its published timescale; and 1,648 results were “late, other than through the issue of a certificate”.

A Pearson spokesperson told FE Week: “We have agreed to pay a penalty in the sum of £85,000, with regard to failings arising from the migration of data to the QMA which is used to administer a small proportion of Pearson’s qualifications.

“We recognise the adverse impact this has had on our customers and learners and reiterate our apology to them for this incident.

“Our consistent focus has been on rectifying this situation and ensuring that the highest standards of service to our customers and learners are swiftly and consistently achieved. The QMA system is now working as intended.

“Ofqual has recognised our good record of operational effectiveness, our full cooperation in respect of this incident, and the extensive steps we had taken to rectify and mitigate problems and to compensate our customers.”

The qualifications and exams regulator published a notice today of the action it plans to take, which follows a £38,000 fine given to City & Guilds in July.

Ofqual’s own guidance on its fines regime for awarding organisations states: “We can impose a monetary penalty (a fine) on an awarding organisation if it appears, on the evidence available to us, that it has breached a condition of its recognition.

“A fine may be for an amount up to 10 per cent of an awarding organisation’s annual turnover. This limit applies to each fine we decide to impose and is not a cumulative limit for a financial year.

“We will decide what the appropriate amount of the fine should be taking into account all the circumstances of the case.”

Ofqual’s own guidance on its fines regime for awarding organisations states: “We can impose a monetary penalty (a fine) on an awarding organisation if it appears, on the evidence available to us, that it has breached a condition of its recognition.

“A fine may be for an amount up to 10 per cent of an awarding organisation’s annual turnover. This limit applies to each fine we decide to impose and is not a cumulative limit for a financial year.

“We will decide what the appropriate amount of the fine should be taking into account all the circumstances of the case.”