Vital new arrangements for quality assurance of apprenticeship assessment provided by universities have been unveiled and site visits will start in July.

The Designated Quality Body in England (DQB) and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) have agreed on the working arrangements for the external quality assurance (EQA) of degree apprenticeships in England.

EQA monitors the end-point assessment that apprentices must take at the end of their apprenticeship to prove they can do the job they have trained for. It ensures the assessment is fair, consistent and robust across different apprenticeship standards and between different assessment organisations.

The new EQA arrangements will ensure that degree apprenticeships in England are delivered and assessed by universities at the highest standard and match up to employer needs.

Rob Nitsch, delivery director of IfATE, said: “This is an important step forward for degree apprenticeships. It is vital that all assessment is consistent and high-quality, meeting the high expectations we have for all apprenticeships. It must match up to the rigours associated with higher level learning but also fully respect that this is an apprenticeship, so the focus must be on ensuring the apprentices are properly challenged to prove they can do they job they’ve trained for. I am confident that the new method will achieve this.”

The new quality assurance method will be delivered by DQB, on behalf of the Office for Students (OfS). They will follow the overriding framework developed by IfATE.

It has been developed following consultation by IfATE to simplify the system for the quality assurance of apprenticeships.

Rob Stroud, Director of the Designated Quality Body in England, commented: “The new EQA method will give assurance to apprentices that the assessments they undertake at the end of their programme have been quality assured by our independent experts. We will check they are delivering high-quality outcomes for apprentices, employers and all those involved in their delivery. We look forward to working closely with the IfATE over the delivery of this method and sharing our knowledge and expertise for the benefit of all stakeholders.”
Speaking on behalf of the OfS, Jean Arnold, Director of Quality, commented: “The OfS expects all students to be assessed effectively. We are pleased to be playing a key role in giving apprentices and employers confidence that assessments will be conducted fairly, consistently, and robustly. The outcomes from this work will inform our judgements about whether providers are delivering effective and reliable assessments for apprentices.”

This latest announcement is key to phase two of the reforms to how EQA works for apprenticeship end point assessment.

Phase one involved simplifying and strengthening how the system worked for apprenticeships below integrated higher and degree-level apprenticeships. Almost all of those are now covered by the statutory regulator, Ofqual.

Assessments under the new quality assurance method will begin from July 2022. DQB will host webinars on the new method for apprenticeship providers on Tuesday 12 July and Thursday 14 July – providers can register for these webinars online.


Notes to Editor:

  1. Almost 20,000 people started a degree apprenticeship last academic year, an increase of almost 30% on the previous year.
  2. Degree apprenticeships provide opportunities for people from all backgrounds and support social mobility. Middlesex University reported that 66% of their apprentices studying at degree level came from lower higher-education participation backgrounds.
  3. The introduction of end point assessment for apprenticeships, which apprentices take after completing their training, was a vital reform to give businesses more confidence that trainees are work ready. Apprenticeships previously did not have a test or set of tests at the of their training. EQA is the quality assurance process for this.
  4. The new EQA method will apply specifically to integrated degree level apprenticeships.
  5. For enquiries, please contact Paul Offord (IfATE) on, Kevin McStravock (DQB/QAA) on, or the OfS Press team on or 0117 9057676.
  6. Further information on the method and handbook for the External Quality Assurance (EQA) of higher and degree-level apprenticeships is available at Designated Quality Body in England website.
  7. The Designated Quality Body in England (DQB) is operated on an arms-length basis by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). It is the body designated by the Secretary of State to provide assessments for the Office for Students (OfS) on quality and standards in higher education in England, and advice regarding providers seeking degree-awarding powers. 
  8. IfATE supports thousands of employers to identify the training requirements and EPA plans for apprenticeships. It sets the guiding expected standards for EQA through its EQA Framework, which the DQB, OfS, and Ofqual must follow.
  9. The Office for Students is the independent regulator for higher education in England. Its aim is to ensure that every student, whatever their background, has a fulfilling experience of higher education that enriches their lives and careers.