Exam boards costly fees could trigger fee hikes, Tes investigates

An investigation launched by Tes has found that exam boards may be set to increase their fees for schools and are considering cuts to subjects in reformed GCSEs and A-levels, as they struggle with financial pressures.

Engalnd’s awarding bodies are struggling to keep up with falling income from entries and rising costs as the government continues to reform its exam system.

One board spokesperson said: “Boards are desperate to keep a lid on fees, but there comes a point at which they just won’t be able to keep taking the extra costs.”

Speaking to Tes, another source revealed: “I’m not convinced it’s a viable model. All businesses running UK exams will be looking for a long-term sustainable position and that’s where you’ll start seeing pressure on prices.”

The news comes as Pearson, which runs the Edexcel exam board, declared it would be axing 4,000 jobs, 500 of which are expected to be in the UK.

In particular, OCR, AQA and Edexcel have warned that they cannot commit to continue to offer exams in ‘community’ languages such as Polish and Bengali, which often have low entries.

The Department for Education (DoE) contended that it expected boards to offer qualifications with low entry numbers ‘as part of their commitment to corporate social responsibility’.

An OCR spokesperson said the board was in a ‘difficult situation and that challenging decisions will need to be made in the short and medium term’.

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