In today’s RDR consultation paper the FSA says it will offer alternative forms of assessment on an ongoing basis, not just during the transitional period.
The paper says: “We consider that this additional flexibility will enable awarding organisations to cater for those who do not wish to sit written or oral exams.”
On oral exams, the paper says: “We conclude that oral equivalents are too restrictive a definition and that we should allow other assessment methodologies to be used, provided they meet the requirements of the relevant qualifications regulator.
“We have received feedback that suggests that allowing alternative assessments only as a transitional provision hinders their development. As a result, we are proposing that these methods be permitted on an ongoing basis rather than just for transition.”
The FSA points out that OfQual allows its awarding bodies flexibility in assessment methodology, such as practical assessment and coursework.
The FSA says the Financial Services Skills Council will publish final standards for the content of the new QCF level four qualifications in March 2010 and OfQual will approve the first new qualifications in June 2010.
The regulator says study materials are likely to be available from October 2010, and new entrants to the industry from then onwards will be able to use the new qualifications.
The Association of Independent Financial Advisers welcomes the FSA’s new approach to assessments.
Director general Chris Cummings says: “We welcome today’s decision by FSA to be more flexible in their approach to alternative assessments. The removal of the expiry date for such assessments and extension to new entrants sends a positive message to the profession, and to those organisations that could assist with the delivery of such proposals.”
Cummings adds: “Today’s consultation paper from FSA is a welcome step forward in the debate on professionalism within the RDR. Aifa supports initiatives to improve levels of trust and consumer confidence in financial services, and urge FSA to build on that which works.”
The paper says that alternative assessments must meet all of the following criteria:
• all parts must be assessed at, or above, the equivalent of QCF Level 4;
• the content must meet the FSSC exam standards (current or new);
• the award (qualification) must be made by a recognised awarding body (such as OfQual or QAA); and
• the assessment methodology must satisfy the requirements of the qualifications regulator (OfQual for vocational qualifications and QAA for academic
qualifications) and must be robust, including rigorously high standards of anti-plagiarism monitoring by the awarding organisation.