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The High Court has given an important decision on the legal requirements on qualification awarding bodies when withdrawing accreditation from providers.

The Claimant, LSST, is a private college offering courses leading to a range of higher and further education qualifications. LSST challenged a process which led to the withdrawal by Pearson of accreditation to run courses leading to some of Pearson’s qualifications. Pearson’s decision was based on findings of malpractice. Following an investigation, Pearson concluded that there had been a systemic failure in the integrity of LSST’s recruitment processes, leading to students being admitted without the basic proficiency in English needed to undertake the courses.

LSST challenged Pearson’s findings of malpractice and its decision on sanction. Ms Rowena Collins-Rice (sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge) rejected these arguments. Pearson’s Malpractice Committee, and subsequently its Appeal Panel, had taken into account all (and only) relevant considerations, applied the correct standard of proof, and imposed a proportionate sanction. The Judge did however uphold a challenge to sanctions imposed on LSST’s Head of Centre personally. The Committee and the Panel had not distinguished between the case against LSST and the case against the Head of Centre, and had not made any findings as to the degree of his personal culpability. In these circumstances the sanctions imposed on him were disproportionate and unfair.

The full judgment is available here.

Iain Steele acted for Pearson.

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