Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)
What is the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)?
The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is Scotland’s national awarding and accreditation body. It accredits all qualifications in Scotland with the exception of degrees and recognises awarding bodies in Scotland. And just like the regulators of qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Scottish regulator also works closely with educational institutions and industry in order to make sure that the qualifications are inclusive, equally accessible, flexible and of high quality. The SQA main aim is to ensure the learners a clear path to further education or employment and the employers with knowledgeable and skilled personnel.
What Does the SQA Do?
The SQA has two main responsibilities. The first one is to accredit and the second one is to award qualifications. The SQA accreditation duties involve recognition of qualifications with the exception of degrees and approval of awarding bodies who wish to award these qualifications. As an awarding body, the SQA also develops, validates and assesses qualifications, ensures quality education and training for the learners who are taking its qualifications and awards certificates to candidates.
The SQA Accreditation and Regulation Sections
As mentioned in the section above, the SQA has two main jobs – to accredit and award qualifications. The organisation is therefore divided into two distinct sections – the SQA Accreditation and the SQA Regulation which operate separately from each other. Like its name suggests, the SQA Accreditation is responsible for accrediting awarding bodies and their qualifications. The SAQ Regulation, on the other hand, has the responsibility to:
- monitor awarding bodies and centres in order to make sure that they comply with the SQA criteria and standards
- check compliance and complaints
- support awarding bodies in maintenance of quality of their programmes and compliance with the SQA criteria and standards
The SQA Board of Management and Executive Team
The SQA is directed and overseen by a Chair and Board of Management that are appointed by the Government. They are aided by the Advisory Council which is also appointed by the Scottish Government. The current Chairman is Mr Graham Houston, while Dr Janet Brown is acting as SQA’s Chief Executive. Other members of the Board of Management include Jim Edgar, Willie Gallagher, Kenny McKay, Raymond O’Hare, Professor John Simmons, Dr Paul Thompson, Susan Walsh and Carole Wilkinson.
The Chief Executive, Dr Janet Brown heads a permanent staff and manages the development and awarding of qualifications. She is aided by the Executive Team - Karen McCallum as Director of Operations, Maidie Cahill as Director of Corporate Services, John McMorris as Director of Business Development, Gill Stewart as Director of Qualifications Development, Rob Gibson as Director of Business Systems and Linda Ellison as Director of Finance.