ISA Education is a qualifications provider and awarding body and a quasi-autonomous sister organization to the International Students Association (ISA), a not-for-profit organization that provides guidance and support for international students studying in the United Kingdom. As part of their remit to advise overseas students on the qualifications they should study, ISA has sought the opinions of higher education institutions and employers, both in the UK and abroad, and garnered feedback from the students it has advised. All this accumulated data indicated that, while the qualifications available were in many respects excellent, students, in particular, were dissatisfied with the rigorousness of the testing (which they believed potentially devalued the awards); HE institutions were concerned that marking and awarding lacked consistency; and employers expressed frustration that the knowledge and skills taught were not relevant to the workplace.
At the International Students Association’s most recent AGM (2012) it was determined that, in response to this very obvious requirement, a project team be set up to develop a quasi-autonomous sister organization, to be known as ISA Education, which would offer qualifications and awards that were demanding and exacting in their requirements, rigorously tested and consistently marked, and relevant to the workplace in terms of the knowledge and skills that were required to be demonstrated in order to gain the awards. It was also determined that the written examinations and/or assignments necessary to gain these awards should be marked with the expectation that the quality and appropriateness of the English language used should be on a par with students studying at a similar level at a UK university and marks should be deducted where this is not achieved. It was further decided that the same exacting standards be applied to such things as referencing and all the other requirements of academic writing.
To ensure that standards are not eroded and the awards do not become devalued it has been decided that a three tier marking and verification system should be put in place. As is standard practice, an external verifier from ISA Education will sample the marking of the accredited institution’s internal verifier, but as further fail safe, samples of marking would be passed on to an independent third party.
It was further decided that where other awarding bodies allow institutions delivering the qualifications to decide on policies regarding such things as marking, verification etc, ISA Education would take a much more hands on approach and insist on certain guidelines being followed. To this end, a whole raft of guideline policies has been drawn up which are all to be made available to accredited institutions.
In producing our qualifications the project team drew upon the experience and expertise of academics, professionals working in the pertinent industries and colleagues with a wealth of practice and knowledge of validation, verification, delivery and assessment. The result of all this is we believe three suites of qualifications (in Business Management, Healthcare and IT) that are exacting in their demands on students (thus truly reflecting the ability), relevant to the industries and on a par in terms of quality and excellence with that provided at a similar level at the UK's best HE institutions.