An awarding organisation has been ordered to pay £100,000 in fines and costs for shortcomings in dealing with exam malpractice.
Over a three-year period, more than 5,000 qualifications linked to the security sector could have been affected by cheating.
'Failure to take investigative steps'
Ofqual said this was particularly serious because of the risks involved in the security sector and, therefore, close monitoring was required.
During its investigation, Ofqual found that IQ’s investigation into the possibility that it might have awarded a large number of qualifications that were false because of malpractice was inadequate. This was down to the awarding organisation failing to take “a number of basic investigative steps”.
According to the exam regulator's report, IQ became aware of allegations of malpractice in February 2015 and an assessor later admitted he had been involved in malpractice at the centre.
'Conflict of interests'
The assessor was also the owner of the centre and it was, therefore, seen to be in his interest for the college to be seen as successful, with learners passing exams to obtain qualifications.
The report stated: “His personal financial interest, therefore, conflicted with his obligation to make sure assessments were marked according to the standards required by IQ.”
IQ awarded over 5,000 qualifications to learners at the centre in a three-year period, all of which included internal assessments, but its records showed that the external verifier had only considered 41 portfolios in the same period.
IQ chair, Tony Breslin said: "We are currently appealing against Ofqual's decision, and it would not, therefore, be prudent for us to comment in detail at this stage. However, and in this spirit, we are disappointed that Ofqual has made its decision public while our appeal is ongoing and while they are aware of the concerns that we have expressed about their handling of this case.
"We remain utterly committed to delivering high-quality qualifications and to the integrity of the broader awarding system, principles that continue to guide everything that we do."