Schools, colleges and children's services – guidance

Apply to have your qualifications regulated

Who and what Ofqual regulate, how to apply to be regulated and what happens when you want to stop being regulated.

Who and what Ofqual regulates

Ofqual regulates certain qualifications and the organisations that produce them.

What is a qualification?

A qualification:

  • gives a reliable indication of someone’s knowledge, skills or understanding
  • is only awarded to someone who has demonstrated a specified level of attainment
  • awards a certificate naming the qualification to anyone who completes it successfully

Training courses are not usually qualifications because they only certify that someone attended the course, and don’t make a judgement about someone’s knowledge, skills or understanding. We can’t regulate anything that isn’t a qualification, so we don’t regulate most training courses or training providers.

A regulated qualification is any qualification you offer that we have ‘recognised’ you for.

What does ‘recognised’ mean?

If you want us to regulate your qualifications, you have to apply to become a recognised awarding organisation - an Ofqual-approved provider - of those qualifications.

You can apply to be recognised for as many or as few qualifications as you want. You can also apply to be recognised for ‘descriptions of qualifications’ - groups or types of qualifications.

If we accept your application we’ll regulate all your qualifications that are within the scope of your recognition. That means we expect all those qualifications to meet our rules, be valid and fit for purpose. And if you, or any of your regulated qualifications, don’t meet the rules we set then we can take action to put things right.

We won’t regulate any of your qualifications that we don’t recognise you for. Your unregulated qualifications won’t appear on our register of regulated qualifications, and you can’t use the Ofqual logo on their certificates.

If we regulate one of your qualifications, then it is always a regulated qualification. You can’t treat a regulated qualification as sometimes being unregulated: for example when it’s taken by students in a different country, when it’s privately funded or because a group of students have one employer.

Apply for recognition

Be aware, before you apply, of everything that is involved. You’ll need to:

  1. Decide which qualifications you want to offer - including the appropriate levels and sector subject areas.

  2. Make sure you, and your governing body, can comply with all our rules for the qualifications you want to offer.

  3. Make sure you understand the process for assessing applications, and the information you’ll have to provide to support your application - read our Criteria for Recognition and the Supporting information for applicants (PDF, 818KB, 37 pages)

  4. Fill out and submit our application form. Make sure your application is complete before submitting it, with all questions answered and any supporting information included.

If you are ready to start your application, complete our online application form.

Do not use this form if you are already recognised by Ofqual - send us an enquiry form first.

Apply for recognition.

You do not have to complete your application in one sitting. You can save your progress part-way through and come back later to complete it.

After you apply

We’ll review your application against our ‘Criteria for Recognition’ and decide whether to recognise you.

If you haven’t met the criteria, we’ll return your application to you.

If you have met the criteria, we’ll recognise you for the all the qualifications you applied for.

It may take up to 60 working days for us to decide the outcome of your application.

Apply to offer more qualifications

If you want to offer more regulated qualifications, then you’ll need to apply for recognition for those qualifications.

But before you do, you should complete an enquiry form.

We’ll then contact you to discuss your enquiry and explain how we’ll decide what information you need to provide in support of your new application. We’ll then write to you to confirm this.

End your recognition

If you want us to stop regulating some or all of your qualifications, you’ll need to ‘surrender’ your recognition for those qualifications.

Surrender is a voluntary, formal process set out in section 147 of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009.

Once you have surrendered recognition for a qualification, we’ll remove it from our register of regulated qualifications, and you must stop using the Ofqual logo for it. And if you decide you want to be recognised for those qualifications again, you’ll need to re-apply for recognition.

How to surrender your recognition

First, contact us at to explain which qualifications you want to surrender and why. We’ll then contact you to discuss your plans.

You’ll then need to provide us with formal notice of your intention to surrender your recognition. This must be:

  • in writing, on your official headed paper
  • signed (in ink) by the Chair (or equivalent) of your governing body, and by your responsible officer
  • addressed to our Associate Director - Regulatory Compliance
  • sent either by post, or as a PDF document to:

Entry and exit team

Spring Place
Herald Avenue


Your notice must include:

  • a full list of the individual qualifications (or descriptions of qualifications) you want to surrender, including for each qualification:
    • the relevant title
    • qualification number (QN)
    • registration and certification end dates
  • detailed reasons why you want to surrender recognition
  • a written plan for the surrender of recognition, showing how the interests of students taking that qualification will be protected
  • information about the surrender of recognition that you intend to send to students, centres and purchasers of qualifications who are likely to be affected by the surrender

If you change your mind after you have sent us a formal notice, we may not agree to revoke the notice.

Setting surrender dates

When we receive your notice of surrender, we’ll review the information you have provided and then decide:

  1. The surrender date. In making this decision, we’ll take into account all the information provided in your notice of surrender. Our main aim is to set a surrender date which protects students, so the surrender date will normally be after all qualification certification dates have expired.
  2. Whether to set any ‘saving or transitional’ provisions. These are additional requirements which apply during the surrender period. For example, we might place information and reporting requirements on you. Again, our priority here is to protect students.

We’ll write to you setting out these decisions.

On the surrender date, we’ll send you a formal letter confirming that you are no longer recognised for the qualifications (or descriptions of qualifications) you chose to surrender.