External Quality Assurance (EQA) monitors the end-point assessment that apprentices undertake at the end of their apprenticeship, to ensure that it is fair, consistent and robust across different apprenticeship standards and between different assessment organisations. EQA ensures that end-point assessment organisations (EPAOs) all work to a high standard and that an apprentice would get the same result from their EPA regardless of the EPAO. EQA also ensures the apprenticeship standard and end-point assessment plan are fit-for-purpose and actually delivering the outcomes that are required.

We oversee EQA delivery to ensure that EQA is robust and carried out consistently.


1. Who can carry out EQA?

Previously there was the option for EQA to be carried out by various EQA providers, including employers, professional bodies, Ofqual or the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE).

In February to May 2020, we consulted on simplifying the EQA system. Following the response to the consultation, we moved to a model where all EQA for an apprenticeship standard will be delivered by:

The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual)

The Office for Students (OfS) for integrated higher and degree apprenticeships

There are some exceptions to this, these apprenticeships are referred to as Out-of-Scope and come under the following criteria 

  • There is a statutory regulator for that occupation, who wants to undertake their own EQA  
  • There is a professional body that controls entry into an occupation where they are also the only organisation that can be the EPAO
  • There are, or could be, national security implications
  • A statutory regulator’s assessment is the apprenticeship’s end-point assessment - this will apply to integrated, non-degree, apprenticeships.

There may be other instances, and these will be considered on an individual basis.

All EQA will be carried out in line with our EQA framework.

IfATE will also continue to provide a temporary, free-of-charge, in-house advice, and quality assurance solution for a small number of apprenticeships that, for various reasons, are not able to be covered by one of the other listed organisations. This will ensure that EPA can continue, and that quality will be maintained.

To retain the employer-led approach to EQA, Ofqual and OfS will be supported by input from professional and employer-led bodies. Employers can nominate organisations for entry to the Directory of Professional and Employer-led Bodies to support EQA activity by emailing ifate.directory@education.gov.uk in the first instance.

You can view a register of the organisations approved to carry out EQA 


2. EQA Framework

The EQA Framework sets out how apprenticeship EPAs must be externally quality assured.

It sets out what good practice in EPA looks like, and what EQA providers should look out for to be confident this has happened. The resulting improved clarity to EPA and EQA providers will ensure consistency with how assessments are delivered across the country.

3. EQA Annual report

IfATE's 2022 External Quality Assurance (EQA) annual report is now available.

This summarises the data and insights shared with us around how end point assessment (EPA) and EQA was delivered throughout 2022.

The report reflects on:

  • how well the system is working and
  • areas for improvement
  • examples of good practice

IfATE announced its plans to move to a simplified EQA system back in 2020 and this transition is broadly complete. It means that the majority of EQA will be delivered by:

  • Ofqual or,
  • for integrated degree apprenticeships, the Office for Students (OfS).

Some valued external quality assurance organisations (EQAOs) will no longer be undertaking EQA as a result. The report acknowledges the excellent work that they have done in:

  • delivering EQA and
  • establishing the credibility of EPA.

We hope many of them will continue to bring the employer voice alive through membership of our directory of professional and employer-led bodies.


Last updated 30 March 2023