How to become a centre

Initial approval involves centre approval and approval to offer your first qualification.

At the initial approval stage we will ensure that your centre has the management structure and quality assurance systems to support the delivery, assessment and internal verification of SQA qualifications.


Service Level Agreements

There are various routes to become an SQA Approved Centre depending on your previous experience however at all times:

  1. SQA will provide potential centres with supporting documentation outlining the requirements to be met before SQA Approved Centre status is granted.
  2. SQA will provide telephone and/or face-to-face approval guidance to support potential centres through the application process. Your Business Development contact will work with you to perform a quantitative check before the application is submitted to our Approvals team.
  3. SQA will acknowledge receipt of a fully completed application form within one working day.
  4. Our Approvals team will perform a qualitative check before passing the approval to the appropriate SQA representative to carry out a centre visit. The SQA representative will be appointed within seven working days.
  5. The SQA representative will contact the centre to arrange a suitable date for the visit(s) to take place within five working days of being appointed.
  6. SQA will endeavour to provide centres with the outcome of the visit(s) within ten working days of the visit date.
  7. If approval is granted and upon receipt of a signed Centre Operating Agreement, SQA will send a welcome pack by email outlining the allocated centre number and any additional information within five working days.

If you are applying for approval through the recognition route you may not require a visit from an SQA representative, this is known as desk based approval. Your Business Development contact will advise whether this route is available to you.

Approval to offer specific qualifications

During approval to offer specific qualifications we ensure that once you have decided on delivering a qualification your centre has the staff, reference and learning materials, assessment materials, and the equipment and accommodation you will need to deliver and assess the specific qualification. We will also check your internal verification system to ensure it meets our quality requirements.

An SQA centre number will be issued to you when you have successfully obtained centre approval and approval to offer your first qualification.

For both types of approval you must demonstrate your potential to meet our approval criteria. You will also have to show that you are continuing to meet our criteria following approval as you deliver and assess qualifications.

Approval as an SQA centre

Once we have all the information we need, we will contact your nominated SQA Co-ordinator to arrange a convenient date and time for a centre approval visit by a Quality Enhancement Manager (QEM) and confirm the arrangements in writing. The QEM will look for evidence that your centre has the potential to meet the criteria for approval as an SQA centre.

An External Verifier (EV) for each subject area involved in your initial qualification approval application may accompany the QEM on the centre approval visit or they may make separate arrangements to visit on a date that is suitable to you. If several EVs need to visit you at the same time they are likely to be accompanied by one our or QEMs.

If the team is large it would be helpful if you could provide a room where they could meet during the visit.

At the end of the visit the EV will provide us with a report outlining their recommendations, however, they are unable to approve your centre to offer qualifications. This responsibility remains with the QEM. Your SQA Co-ordinator will receive written confirmation of the decision within 10 days of the approval visit taking place.


If you have already been approved by another awarding body regulated by the government in which your centre is located it may be possible for us to approve your centre without a visit. Our Qualifications Approval and Verification team offer further guidance on this.

Next step

If you would like to talk to someone contact our Business Development Team or alternatively complete our Centre Approval enquiry.