Ashley Commerce College: BBC Acknowledgement and Update
Following the Broadcast of the BBC Inside Out programme in March, in which an IQ centre was exposed as operating in a fraudulent manner, IQ has been working to remove fraudulent certification, strengthen its own procedures in light of the new understanding gained from the BBC exposure, and liaising with the BBC on the fallout and evidence from the undercover investigation. This release provides an update on progress since April 2015.
IQ has publicly welcomed the BBC investigation and believes that the evidence collected as a result of the broadcast will provide significant help in reducing fraud. Through its own investigations, IQ has identified a number of trainers and directors that are involved in fraudulent activity, along with a number of centres working with a variety of awarding organisations. This would not have been possible without the evidence provided by the BBC.
IQ has been critical of some aspects of the BBC broadcast, however, in particular the failure to make it clear to viewers that IQ was not the only awarding organisation affected. In conversation prior to broadcast, the BBC had explained that they had evidence of fraud and malpractice in some 20 centres, working with a number of awarding organisations, of which two were IQ centres.
In response to a wider complaint from IQ, the BBC has stated “The relevant section of the programme made no allegation of wrong-doing on the part of IQ” but that they “agree it would have given viewers a more complete picture of the extent of the fraud if it had been made clear that other awarding organisations were also affected”.
IQ welcomes this acknowledgement as it highlights what is clearly an industry issue. Despite a considerable amount of excellent practice in the training supply side to the sector, there is clearly a level of fraud and malpractice which must be addressed collectively by regulators, awarding organisations and the sector itself.
Since first being made aware of fraudulent activity in February, IQ has published a white paper detailing the changes that it believes are required if fraud within the training supply chain to the sector is to be tackled. It has also published details of changes that IQ is making to reduce the risk of fraud.
A total of 251 candidates have had their certificates voided, leading to the withdrawal of 129 SIA licenses. 12 people appealed against the decision to void their certificates, all of which have been investigated and the original IQ decision confirmed. Four of those appealing have been advised to contact the police as they appear to have been genuinely defrauded on an issue relating to a second license.
A number of directors, trainers and administrators at Ashley Commerce College (ACC), along with the students who were party to fraud, have been reported to the police, along with three trainers working in other centres who were referring students to ACC.
In addition to ACC, IQ now have details of a number of trainers and training companies where allegations of fraudulent practice have been alleged and is currently considering how this intelligence can legally be shared with other awarding organisations.
It is the view of IQ that more needs to be done across the awarding organisations to provide better and timelier intelligence, to reduce opportunities for wrong doing. IQ is seeking to work with other awarding organisations on this issue.
IQ is also calling for a named contact point within the police for awarding organisations reporting fraud. “The response of the police to date has been wholly inadequate and one reason for this is a clear lack of understanding of awarding organisations and the damage that can be done by examination fraud” said Raymond Clarke, Chief Executive IQ.
IQ will be initiating civil action later in the summer, once the costs of the fraud have been calculated. Candidates will be given the opportunity to make a charitable donation through IQ to a charity nominated by IQ to avoid being drawn into civil action, but all of the trainers concerned will face significant claims for damages.