Transition and surrender FAQs
Following the merger of the two organisations; Open College Network West Midlands and AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group, the organisations have operated as two separate Access Validating Agencies (AVAs). On 31 July 2023 the Open College Network West Midlands’ licence was surrendered and Open College Network West Midlands’ Access to HE providers were transferred to the AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group AVA license. We realise that centres and learners may have some questions about these changes so we have produced the FAQs below. If you still have questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. Are all assessment briefs expected to be ready for September / October?
A. The moderation of assessment briefs will take place in October / November so they will be expected to be ready and accessible by the diploma moderators for then. Review of all briefs at this time helps to identify and address any issues as early as possible and in turn minimise or prevent any impact on learners. The AVA appreciate that changes may need to be made to briefs after moderation by the diploma moderation due to unforeseen circumstances. The diploma moderator will be made aware of any changes so that the brief can be reviewed again.
Q. Who will moderate the assessment briefs on the Pearl platform?
A. The AVA will coordinate the moderation of assessment briefs on the Pearl platform and will be supported by a group of moderators. Once completed, all providers will be informed of the outcomes and any amendments.
Q. When will new assessment templates be ready for use?
A. The AVA are currently reviewing all forms the revised versions will be available as soon as practically possible. Providers can continue to use current templates for 2023-24 so as not to delay assessment planning. Open College Network West Midlands Centres will need to ensure the AVA logo is removed from any template they are using.
Q. Who will select the sample?
A. The AVA will identify the units to be sampled for assessed work and the moderators will then select the sample.
Q. Is it 50% of modules or 50% of each module that needs to be sampled?
A. The requirement is 50% of each module within the diploma.
Q. The samples available to moderators on Pearl in March will relate to units assessed in January and internally moderated in February. Therefore, although at the time of sampling the provider may have assessed 50% of units within modules, this will not be visible or available to the moderator?
A. The AVA will discuss this with Pearl to see if a solution can be reached and feedback as soon as possible.
Q. What will it mean for units that are delivered by a provider across several diplomas?
A. These units will be sampled within each of the diplomas to ensure the sample is representative.
Q. Will the different times of Easter be taken into consideration when it is time for sampling of assessed work in March / April?
A. The AVA will take into consideration the timing of Easter and is aware that this can differ across regions. This will ensure that requests are not being made as providers are about to break for Easter or when they are already on leave.
Q. What about moderation for January / February cohorts?
A. The model can be applied to cohorts commencing at different times of the year, such as in January and February. The AVA will speak with providers who are delivering these cohorts to confirm moderation plans.
Q. When will a provider know if final moderation is required?
A. This will be determined after the completion of the first sampling in March / April. Final moderation will be determined by the outcome of first sampling, and whether 50% of each module has been sampled. It may be that some, but not all modules do not need to be sampled again.
Q. How will the model work for a provider who has roll-on roll-off provision and may have learners starting a one-year course in March - How will they be included in moderation samples?
A. The AVA will monitor what has been included in moderation that has taken place and will advise if any further moderation is required prior to a final award boards.
Q. What day will the drop-in session be on and how do we access it?
A. The drop-in support sessions take place every Tuesday, 16.00-16.45 via Teams and are for all providers.
Please join via the link below.
Click here to join the meeting
Meeting ID: 334 861 294 235
Q. Who will the centre annual review report be sent to?
A. The centre annual review report will be sent to the AVA’s main Access to HE contacts, eg coordinators and managers. Please share with any other department that may need to contribute to the report eg quality staff.
Q. The Centre annual review report is due to be submitted in August. What about if staff are on holiday?
A. The template to use will be issues in May to allow sufficient time for completion and submission prior to leave. Please speak to the AVA if any problems are experienced.
Q. When will full guidance be sent out?
A. The Access team are currently working on the Access to HE Centre Handbook for 2023-24 and hope for this to be available to providers at the end of June / start of July. Meanwhile a copy of the presentation outlining the model has been distributed to all providers.
Q. Is there a date for expressing an interest for the diploma moderator roles?
A. Moderators were sent a link to a Microsoft form on 24th May to express an interest in the diploma moderator role. This will remain open until 21st June 2023.
Q. What is MIA
A. The main functions of MIA are:
- to apply to deliver an AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group's qualification
- to view a full list of all AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group qualifications
- to see which qualifications your provider is approved to deliver
- to add/update staff contacts, site and organisation details
- to view sample papers, principal examiner reports and any other relevant documents
- to view EV reports and actions
- for recognition of prior learning and credit transfer
- for reasonable adjustments and special considerations
- for Access to HE referral
- to view malpractice reports
- to view upcoming engagements with AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group (EV visits)
- to make an application to be an AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group Centre
Providers not currently using MIA will be invited to training sessions or you can book a session now using the link in the table above. You will be issued with login details.
All AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group’s portals can be found on our portals page.
Q. What is GradeTraka?
A. GradeTraka is used by providers to:
- track Access to HE students' progression
- access grade profiles throughout the academic year
- export grade profile information ready for the final awards board
- input student grades throughout the year
- add amend or view the grades students have achieved against their units.
- generate students' progress summary reports suitable for tutorials or sending to students
- monitor student UCAS points
Providers not currently using GradeTraka will be invited to training sessions or you can book a session now using the link in the table above. You will be issued with login details.
All AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group’s portals can be found on our portals page.
Q. Which registration portal is to be used?
A. Quartzweb will be continued to be used and current login details will remain valid. Portals can be found here
Q. Do centres need to reapply for centre recognition or approval to deliver Access to HE Diplomas?
A. The process of transferring provision will be automatic; providers do not need to reapply for centre recognition or for approval to deliver diplomas. A new centre agreement with AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group will be sent to providers (as required). These should be signed by the Head of Organisation and returned to AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group by 31 May 2023.
Q. Will moderation change?
A. In March, AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group and Open College Network West Midlands ran a series of Access to HE moderation consultation meetings to seek views on the current model. We are currently reviewing the outcomes of these meetings and will be sending more information about moderation in May.
Q. Will the certification process change?
A. The process for certification will be managed through Quartzweb and GradeTraka. Training will be given for providers not familiar with these systems. Other changes can be found in the provider guidance documents.
Q. How will the transfer affect branding and logos?
A. As the AVA licence is regulated by QAA, AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group has to ensure the Access to HE Diplomas are marketed and promoted in accordance with QAA rules. Open College Network West Midlands Access to HE providers should remove any reference to Open College Network West Midlands being recognised by QAA and remove the Open College Network West Midlands logo and name from all paper and electronic documents by 31 July 2023. This applies to all documents including, prospectus, student teaching materials, websites and portals, learning materials and all promotional collateral. More guidance can be found in the brand guidelines.
AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group Access to HE providers are being encouraged to change from using the AIM Qualifications logo to the AIM corporate brand logo. More details are available in the brand guidelines.
Q. What actions have Open College Network West Midlands AVA taken to mitigate risk to students and providers?
A. The following arrangements have been made to mitigate the risk to students and providers:
- Open College Network West Midlands’ complete suite of diplomas will be transferred to AIM Qualifications and Assessments Group so that students who are not expected to complete their studies until after 31st July 2023 can continue without disruption to their original programmes and be certificated.
- Students who have already applied for, and enrolled on, courses commencing after 31st July 2023 will be able to continue with their original plans. Providers will not be expected to adopt a new diploma specification for 2023-24.
- Achievement data will be uploaded to UCAS for students who have completed and been awarded prior to the UCAS uploaded deadline date of 24th July 2023, allowing offers made by HEIs to students who are progressing to be confirmed.
Q. What impact will the merger have on continuing students, ie those who are not due to complete their programme until after 31st July 2023?
A. Students who are not due to complete their programme until after 31st July 2023 will be able to continue with their original programme without disruption. All Open College Network West Midlands Diplomas will be transferred to AIM Qualifications and Assessments Group to allow for this continuation. When completed, the students will be awarded and certificated.
Q. Will the Open College Network West Midlands Diplomas continue to be funded?
A. Funding will continue for all Open College Network West Midlands diplomas. Funding information for 2023-24 will be shared with providers on 17th April 2023 when published by the DfE. It is expected that there will be changes to learning aim references for diploma titles that are duplicated across AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group and Open College Network West Midlands, to allow for providers from both AVAs to continue with the curriculum planned for 2023-24. Changes will be reported in the update on 17th April 2023.
Q. Will we be able to continue to deliver the same Diplomas and units after 31st July 2023?
A. Yes, all providers will be able to continue to deliver the same Diplomas and units after 31st July 2023. Providers from both AVAs will have access to an extensive portfolio of diplomas so there will be opportunities for growth and adoption of new diplomas.
Q. Will we need to make any changes to our printed and electronic materials?
A. As Open College Network West Midlands will cease to exist as an AVA following the surrender of its license on 31 July, providers will need to remove any reference to Open College Network West Midlands being recognised by QAA and remove its logo and name from all paper and electronic documents. Further guidance will be made available.
Q. Who can we contact if we have any questions?
A. From 1st August 2023, all questions should be directed to: email@example.com
Q. What arrangements have been made to support providers with the transition?
A. Guidance documents for providers have been produced to summarise the key changes being implemented following. This will be supported with regular updates and the provision of information and training sessions on the use of key systems and moderation updates. Weekly drop-in sessions will also be available for providers with questions.
Q. Will students still be able to obtain a replacement certificate after July 31st 2023?
A. After 31st July, AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group will be able to issue a letter of achievement and or transcript in lieu of a certificate. The letters and transcripts are accepted by HEIs. If students achieved their Diploma from July 2020 onwards, you will be able to access a copy of their original e-certificate. This can be shared electronically with the student but must not be printed.
Q. If a student has identified an error on their certificate, will they be able to get a replacement certificate after 31st July 2023?
A. If the student has been awarded the diploma in the summer 2023 series, the error can be amended, and a replacement paper or e-certificate issued. The updated certificates will have dual logos ie, both AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group and Open College Network West Midlands’ logos. From 1st August 2024, a letter of achievement and or transcript will be issued in lieu of a replacement certificate. These are accepted by HEIs. Please contact the AVA as soon as possible if errors are identified as evidence to support the required amendment will need to be provided.
Q. What is Pearl?
A. An online platform for full delivery of an Access to HE programme. Interactive delivery resources, assessments, marking and moderation all available within the software. Very flexible delivery model that can be tailored to individual centre needs. Demonstration possible if requested.
Q. Will Pearl assessments change? Will this be communicated to centres?
A. There is no requirement for Pearl assessments to change because of the surrender. If logos are used on the Pearl platform, these will be updated by Pearl. Pearl will continue to communicate with centres directly.
Q. We deliver loan provision for Access to HE in Nursing. Has the aim number changed and is it still funded?
A. A full list of learning aims will be shared following an update from the DfE. The Nursing Diploma Learning Aim has not changed and it will still be funded.
Q. Who will the new centre agreements go to? Will the quality nominee also get a copy?
A. The centre agreements will go to your head of centre. It is sent out via Docusign and it is just sent to one person. These will start to be sent to centres on 3rd May for return by 31st May.
Q. If a learner starts next week or is a distance learner / on a long programme, will the certificate be awarded by AIM or Open College Nework Wet Midlands? Should centres be advising learners of the changes?
A. The certificate will be awarded by AIM. Yes, please advise learners and share the learner information from the hidden page resources on our transition and surrender page.
Q. When will centres receive copies of the logos and assignment briefs?
A. Brand Guidelines are now available and have been sent to provider contacts, along with the AIM corporate logo. Documents such as assessment briefs will be reviewed and updated sent before the summer break
Q. I have applied to start an Access to HE Diploma after 1st August 2023, what does this mean for me?
A. Your provider/college will ensure the change has no impact upon your studies or the course you have applied to study; it will be the same course you have applied for, the only change is the AVA who will be awarding the Diploma.
Q. Who will be awarding my Access to HE Diploma?
A. This will depend on when you complete your studies. By completion, we mean a Final Award Board has taken place at which awards for credit have been verified. Students who complete and have had their achievements verified at a Final Award Board by 31st July 2023 will be awarded by Open College Network West Midlands, and this name and associated logo will appear on your certificate. Students completing after 31st July 2023 will be awarded by AIM Qualification and Assessment Group with their name and associated logo appearing on your certificate.
Q. The end date of my studies is after July 31st 2023. Will I be able to continue with the same Diploma and units that my provider registered me against?
A. Yes, arrangements have been made for the Open College Network West Midlands’ complete suite of Diplomas to be transferred to AIM Qualifications and Assessments Group so that students who are not expected to complete their studies until after 31st July 2023 can continue without disruption with their original programme.
Q. I am due to complete my studies by July 31st 2023, but may need an extension due to extenuating circumstances. Will I still be able to continue? What will happen to the credits I have already achieved?
A. If you were due to complete your studies by July 31st 2023 but need to extend your programme due to extenuating circumstances, firstly please speak to your training provider. This is because there will be processes to follow for your provider to request an extension to be approved at a Final Award Board (FAB). If the extension is approved, you will be able to continue to complete your original programme of study as arrangements have been made for Open College Network West Midlands’ complete suite of Diplomas to be transferred to AIM Qualifications and Assessments Group. Any credits already achieved to date will be claimed for when the Diploma has been fully completed and achieved. If this is after 31st July 2023, a certificate will be awarded with the AIM Qualifications and Assessment name and logo replacing those of Open College Network West Midlands.
Q. I am a continuing learner. Will my Advanced Learner Loan still be applicable for the remainder of my course?
A. Yes, it will be. All Open College Network West Midlands Access to HE Diplomas will continue to be eligible for Advanced Learner Loan funding.
Q. Will it still be possible to obtain a replacement certificate after July 31st 2023?
A. After 31st July, AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group will be able to issue a letter of achievement and or transcript in lieu of a certificate. The letters and transcripts are accepted by HEIs. If you achieved your Diploma from July 2020 onwards, you can contact your training provider and ask them to access a copy of your original e-certificate. This can only be used electronically and must not be printed.
Q. I’ve just received my certificate and have noticed an error. Will I be able to have a replacement certificate?
A. If you have been awarded the Diploma in the summer 2023 series, the error can be amended, and a replacement paper or e-certificate re-issued. The updated certificates will have dual logos ie both AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group and Open College Network West Midlands’ logos. From 1st August 2024, a letter of achievement and or transcript will be issued in lieu of a replacement certificate. These are accepted by HEIs. Please contact your training provider as soon as possible if you identify any errors on your certificate.
Q. I will be applying to UCAS after the 31st July 2023. My certificate will say Open College Network West Midlands. Will I still be able to select Open College Network West Midlands as an AVA on the UCAS application?
A. Yes, UCAS retains the name of awarding organisations that are no longer operating and there is also the option to manually enter the awarding organisation’s name.
Q. What is an AVA?
A. AVA is an acronym for Access Validating Agency. Open College Network West Midlands is an Access Validating Agency licensed by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) to act as awarding bodies and award the Access to Higher Education Diplomas to students following their achievements.
Q. Who can students contact if they have any questions?
A. We would advise the first source of contact to be your college/provider. If you are unable to contact your provider or your provider is unable to answer any questions, you should contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. I will be applying for an Advanced Learner Loan to fund my Access to HE Diploma. Will the loan still be available for the Diploma I originally applied for?
A. Providing you meet the eligibility criteria for the loan, you will be able to apply for the loan. All Open College Network West Midlands Access to HE Diplomas will continue to be eligible for Advanced Learner Loan funding at providers who have the Advanced Learner Loan facility. Please check with the training provider/college where you wish to study, to ensure that this is accessible.