Inclusion on SQA's Awards Processing System (APS)

The SQA Lead Officer will arrange coding of the Group Award where the development has been led by a centre without devolved authority for the validation of Group Awards.

If your centre has devolved authority for the validation of Group Awards then you should complete and send in a form DAVAL 1 (168 KB) along with a copy of the validated Group Award specification.

Development Programme Group (DPG) sign off

SQA cannot request coding of a qualification until it has been established that the associated deliverables are available. Operational deliverables may include:

  • confirmation that the qualification is validated
  • validated Group Award specification received
  • verification group in place
  • any specific verification requirements confirmed and agreed
  • external verifiers in place (ie appointed and trained or alternative arrangements are in place)
  • approval arrangements have been identified for centres wishing to offer the qualification
  • subject/qualification page established on SQA's website
  • Group Award documentation and Unit specifications ready
  • Support materials have been commissioned

QPM will monitor when deliverables are in place and provide DPG with a progress summary each month. Where all deliverables are confirmed as being in place, QPM will progress coding of Group Awards. However, if all deliverables are not in place, QPM will liaise with the appropriate team(s) to agree a solution and timescales. Where this is not possible the situation will be escalated to the appropriate Head of Service (HoS) and/or DPG to identify a way forward.

The Approval Process

The process outlined in this toolkit is for the development and validation of National Certificates (NCs), National Progression Awards (NPAs), Higher National Certificates (HNCs), Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) and Professional Development Awards (PDAs). Approval is a separate process, (although it may be carried out at the same time as validation if the college has the appropriate devolved authority) and scrutinises the resources and preparedness of the centre to offer the Group Award.

Even if your college has been involved in developing an award you will still need approval to deliver it. If your college has devolved authority for approval you should follow your own college's internal approval process. For guidance on this, contact the SQA coordinator in the college.

The steps involved in approval are often necessary at an early stage. Your processes for developing a Group Award should, therefore, take full account of the resource implications for delivery. Some tools that might help you plan:

Internal approval processes will include looking at:

  • resources
  • staffing
  • accommodation
  • teaching and learning materials - usually preparing master folders
  • assessment instruments
  • internal verification procedures to ensure standard of assessments

Further guidance on these is available in the Guide to Approval and the Guide to Assessment (511 KB).

Centres with devolved authority for approval of Group Awards where approval is devolvable should complete and send an Approval form for SQA Centre Support Team (see Approval Form for SQA Approval Team (546 KB)) to request Units/awards to be added to their approved list.

Centres who do not have devolved authority for approval of Group Awards should follow SQA’s approval process.

If your centre has:

  • developed a new Higher National Certificate (HNC), Higher National Diploma (HND) or Professional Development Award (PDA)


  • devolved authority for the validation and approval of Group Awards, your centre’s approval list on SQA’s system will be updated following the submission of the completed DAVAL 1 (168 KB) there is no need to submit a DAAP1.

Where SQA have validated a new/revised consortium devised Group Award, the appropriate SQA Qualifications Manager will provide centres with advice about any changes. Where no substantial changes have been made, approval will be given automatically to existing providers. Where there are substantial changes, centres will have to request that new Units and awards are added to their approved list.

Informing the Students Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS)

Once a centre is approved on SQA’s Awards Processing System (APS), SQA inform the Students Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS).

Summary flow chart for colleges without devolved authority

SQA has been informed of the development using the Development Opportunity Form (DO/1) at the start of the development process
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SQA informed of any Units being developed (Proposed Qualification Structure)
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New/revised Units are validated and coded
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Centre to arrange and host validation meeting
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Validated Group Award specification is sent electronically to:
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SQA Lead Officer arranges for Group Award to go on the Awards Processing System (APS)
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Centre to request Approval to deliver the Group Award
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SQA will inform SAAS of the Group Award when centre requests approval