IfA and Open Awards reach deal on EQA contract extension

The Institute for Apprenticeships has reached a deal with the organisation that delivers external quality assurance on its behalf to extend its contract for a further six months – but will go out to tender for a “longer term contract” after that.

Open Awards first won the contract to deliver EQA on behalf of the IfA in August 2017. Its initial contract ran until March 31, but was subsequently extended for six months.

FE Week reported on Tuesday that the IfA was at risk of losing its EQA provider, as the two parties had failed to reach an agreement on a new contract just days before the old one was due to expire.

“We are pleased to announce that we have today extended the current contract in place with Open Awards to deliver external quality assurance on our behalf until March 2019”, an IfA spokesperson said.

“We intend to run a procurement exercise for a longer term contract to deliver EQA from April 2019 in the next few months,” she said.

Further information on the procurement of the new contract will be published “shortly”, she said.

Open Awards’ initial contract was valued at £160,000 for eight months.

At the time, the IfA’s share of the EQA market stood at just 19 per cent, but since then it has more than doubled.

According to the latest Education and Skills Funding Agency figures, the IfA is named as the EQA provider on 44 per cent fully-approved standards, or 150 out of 342.

“We will continue to review our model for delivering EQA and the resource behind this as end-point assessment numbers continue to grow,” the IfA spokesperson said.

“We are in regular dialogue with Open Awards to ensure that they have the resources in place to deliver a high quality EQA service.”