The Institute has an interest in maintaining access for learners to valuable higher technical qualifications over time. To achieve this, the Institute has the legal power to acquire the copyright in relevant course documents for qualifications at the point of approval. Owning the copyright in these documents means that the Institute could provide the materials to an alternative awarding body should that ever become necessary (for example, if the applicant delivering the qualification were to become insolvent) and maintain the delivery of the qualification.

To determine when the Institute should transfer copyright, we have developed a set of criteria that balance the need to protect the learner without disincentivising applicants submitting qualifications for approval. We anticipate that the application of the criteria will not result in transfer of copyright in any course documents to the Institute on approval in the majority of cases. Applicants will have the opportunity to withdraw from the approval process if the Institute determines that copyright should be transferred to the Institute on approval.  

The Institute will usually only determine copyright transfer is necessary where all of the following criteria are met:

Economic importance of the occupation: a qualification is important to the UK economy because there is sufficient current and/or future economic demand for the occupation or any other reason that means that the qualification is of strategic significance.

Vulnerability of the market: there are concerns about the current makeup of the qualifications market generally and the current/likely future availability of suitable alternative qualifications. For example, this may be the case if there is a relatively closed market, with one applicant delivering a single Higher Technical Qualification for an occupation, representing a single point of market failure. This is as opposed to an open market with several applicants delivering qualifications aligned to an occupation (or likely to in future) with competition and widespread provision.

Financial circumstances or stability of the applicant: there are concerns about the current financial circumstances or stability of the applicant due to deliver, award or validate the qualification.

These criteria will be assessed in sequential order. At the point that one of the criterion is not met we will cease to explore the prospect of a transfer of copyright in relevant course documents any further and will move straight to making a determination (i.e. that there would be no transfer of copyright to the Institute on approval). In the rare circumstances where our application of the criteria indicates that there are relevant course documents which the Institute requires the copyright in (and which documents these are), a recommendation will be sought from the respective route panel and ratified by the Approval & Funding Committee. The applicant will then be informed of this decision prior to an approval decision being made and will have the option of withdrawing from the approval process. If an applicant withdraws then there will be no further action.

Step 1

Is there sufficient current and/or future economic demand for the occupation or any other reason that means that the qualification is of strategic significance?

Evidence considered

  • UK Shortage Occupation List
  • government’s Industrial Strategy
  • data on economic demand (e.g. skills shortages, the dependency of occupation on migration from EEA countries)
  • any other evidence which the Institute considers relevant

Process

This will be assessed by Institute officials as part of the “Review and Consultation” analysis stage in the higher technical qualifications approvals process. 

Institute officials will apply the copyright transfer criteria and determine whether:

  1. given the level of economic demand for the occupation(s) to which the qualification relates and the strategic significance of the qualification, the Institute should continue to explore whether there are relevant course documents the copyright of which should transfer to the Institute on approval and will move to step 2 in the process.

              or

  1. given the level of economic demand for the occupation(s) to which the qualification relates and the strategic significance of the qualification, there are no documents relating to the qualification which the Institute requires the copyright in, and so the Institute will cease to explore the possibility of copyright transfer in relevant course documents and will move straight to making a determination.

The applicant will be informed of the determination for either scenario prior to the approval of the higher technical qualification as part of the feedback stage in the higher technical qualification approval process.

Step 2

What is the current makeup of the higher technical qualifications market generally and the likely future availability of suitable alternative qualifications?

Evidence considered

  • qualifications data by level and subject area
  • number of applicants operating in the market
  • number of applicants providing a qualification in the occupation
  • market concentration
  • distribution of learners in the market (i.e. is the market heavily reliant on one qualification)

Process

This will be assessed by Institute officials as part of the review and consultation analysis stage in the higher technical qualification application approval process. 

Institute officials will apply the copyright transfer criteria and determine either that:

  1. the market in which the higher technical qualification will operate is not stable and/or there is not good/future availability of suitable alternative qualifications. In this scenario the Institute will continue to explore whether a transfer of copyright in relevant course documents is appropriate/necessary and will move to step 3 in the process.

or

  1. the market in which the Higher Technical Qualification will operate is stable and there is good/future availability of suitable alternative qualifications. In this scenario, the Institute will likely conclude that there are no documents relating to the qualification which the Institute requires the copyright in. The Institute will cease to explore the possibility of copyright transfer in relevant course documents and will move straight to making a determination.

The applicant will be informed of the determination for either scenario prior to the approval of the higher technical qualification as part of the feedback stage in the higher technical qualification approval process.

Step 3

Are there any concerns about the current financial circumstances or stability of the applicant due to deliver, award or validate the qualification?

Evidence considered

  • the latest annual report and accounts for the relevant applicant, looking particularly at its turnover, operating profit, net assets, and cash/bank reserves
  • published financial data e.g. from Companies House, the Charity Commission, self-published data from applicant, self-reported data from applicant held by Ofqual, business dynamics information from the Financial Times, and financial data on HEI applicant
  • any other evidence which the Institute considers relevant

Process

This will be assessed by Institute officials as part of the review and consultation analysis stage in the higher technical qualification applications approvals process. 

Institute officials will apply the copyright transfer criteria and determine either that:

  1. there are serious concerns about the financial health/stability of the applicant delivering, awarding or validating the qualification. In this scenario, and having considered all of the prior steps consecutively, the Institute will then move to step 4 in the process to determine that there needs to be a transfer of copyright in relevant course documents and to identify which relevant course documents the Institute will need copyright in.

or

  1. there are no serious concerns about the financial health/stability of the applicant delivering, awarding or validating the qualification. In this scenario, the Institute will likely conclude that there are no documents relating to the qualification which the Institute requires the copyright in, and so the Institute will cease to explore the possibility of copyright transfer in relevant course documents and will move straight to making a determination.

The applicant will be informed of the determination for either scenario prior to the approval of the higher technical qualification as part of the feedback stage in the higher technical qualification approval process.

Step 4

What are the relevant course documents that the Institute considers are likely to be necessary for the copyright to transfer, in the event that a future awarding body is required to deliver the qualification?

Evidence considered

What are the relevant course documents that the Institute considers are likely to be necessary for a future awarding body to be able to deliver the qualification?

Process

This will be assessed by Institute officials as part of the review and consultation analysis stage in the higher technical qualification application approval process. 

Institute officials will apply the copyright transfer criteria and determine whether:

  1. copyright in the relevant course documents should transfer to the Institute.

or

  1. copyright in the relevant course documents should not transfer to the Institute. ​

The applicant will be informed of the determination for either scenario prior to the approval of the higher technical qualification as part of the feedback stage in the higher technical qualification approval process.

The applicant will then have the option of withdrawing from the approval process entirely and there will be no further action. 

3. Terms and conditions of approval

OVERVIEW

Applicants will be expected to adhere to the Institute’s terms and conditions for approval of Higher Technical Qualifications and will need to accept these upon submission of their application. The terms and conditions comprise the following:

  1. Section 1 – Introduction;
  2. Section 2 –Conditions of approval which must be met and accepted by an Applicant at the point of application, and details on the use of the quality mark, reviews of approval status, and changes to qualifications and standards.

Full terms and conditions document

Terms and conditions for approval of Higher Technical Qualifications by the Institute

Higher Technical Qualification quality mark guidelines

Details of how to use the Higher Technical Qualification quality mark are set out in the quality mark guidelines