The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is the executive non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government responsible for accrediting educational awards. It is partly funded by the Education and Lifelong Learning Directorate of the Scottish Government. Based in Scotland, they work across the UK and internationally, and employs approximately 750 staff based in Glasgow and Dalkeith.
SQA is best known for the delivery of the annual diet of public examinations within Scotland for school pupils. SQA Higher examinations are the general acceptable level for entry to university, with Scottish universities usually requesting a minimum of 3 Highers, all above C level. However, a greater number of candidates of all ages participates in SQA specialist, vocational and higher education qualifications. SQA is accredited by the UK government to offer educational qualifications.
SQA’s functions are set out in the Education (Scotland) Act 1996 as amended by the Scottish Qualifications Act 2002.
The organisation has two main roles: accreditation, and awarding qualifications.
- Accredits qualifications.
- Approves, and quality assures awarding bodies that plan to enter people for these qualifications.
SQA Awarding Body
- Devises and develops qualifications.
- Validates qualifications (makes sure they are well written and meet the needs of learners and tutors).
- Reviews qualifications to ensure they are up to date.
- Arranges for, assists in, and carries out, the assessment of people taking SQA qualifications.
- Quality-assures education and training establishments which offer SQA qualifications.
- Issues certificates to candidates.
Within these roles SQA offers a range of services for businesses and training providers, ranging from course and centre approval through customised awards, to endorsement, credit rating and licensing services.