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What’s the best way for Awarding Organisations to expand overseas?

By Kristina Preston on 03 May 2016

In the last week TPP Education & Training ran our own Forum for Awarding Organisations, with delegates attending from organisations from across the country, as well as attending the Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB) AO Forum in London.

From both events one thing is clear; the path for AOs is definitely to explore overseas markets, however there are concerns around the how the path will run.

It is not surprising that UK qualifications are valued as high currency across areas such as the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. With more focus globally being placed on vocational over academic qualifications to combat the 30% youth unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa, and 470 million jobs needed by 2030, Ofqual’s stipulation for qualifications to be employer led and centred as well as the reputation for the quality of the UK assessment systems has made UK qualifications the preferred choice in many countries.

So what is stopping the majority of AOs from venturing further into the international market?

The main concern is actually one of the reasons why UK qualifications are so highly prized: QUALITY.

Many of the AOs asked in a recent British Council survey said: “Quality, compliance and integrity” were the main challenges they faced in protecting the reputation of their qualifications and of course themselves.

Local partners and providers are essential to help provide that local knowledge not just around price points and market conditions but also to help steady the ship when governments and policies change.

But the question is who to partner with? Will they ensure that the quality standards and practises which are regulated here in the UK will be continued? Will they take the easy route, as there are no structured or official regulation inspections, or will they appoint local, self-trained inspectors that don’t abide by the same integrity and standards as their UK counterparts?

Is it really cost effective to send UK trained and based inspectors overseas on a regular basis to ensure the providers are carrying out assessments and training to the standards required?

Maybe the answer will be to look at organisations such as the BAC who are currently developing partnerships with other international organisations such as NARIC to share resources as well as build their own individual international market share- benefitting both parties.

The British Council also can offer advice and guidance as well as arrange meetings between international organisations and UK based AOs through their own international bases, helping secure the right kind of partnerships. FAB is also in discussion with many of its members to look at other routes that will help AOs with their international expansion.

Whatever the answer, with around a fifth of AOs who are currently operating internationally already generating over £1million in revenue in the last 12months, it is clear that international development is the way forward and the potential market opportunity has hardly been touched.

TPP Education & Training will be running another of our successful AO forums later on this year to allow a space for professionals from various AOs to meet and share ideas and concerns around their international expansion plans as well as other key areas of interest.

To register your interest in attending the event, or for more information on other services TPP can offer AOs and other professional bodies, please feel free to contact Kristina Preston or Samantha Johnston on 02071986090 or email education@tpp.co.uk.