Exams

Exams: GCSE and A-level prices soar by inflation-busting 6.4%

CPI over the same period was 3.8%, but Ofqual says prices in line with inflation over a longer period

CPI over the same period was 3.8%, but Ofqual says prices in line with inflation over a longer period

The prices of GCSE and A-level exams have soared by an inflation-busting 6.4 per cent this year, new statistics show.

As of February, the average GCSE cost £51.15, up 6.6 per cent, an Ofqual report stated.

The average A-level cost £121.39, 5.8 per cent higher than last year, and the average price of an AS-level is up 6.8 per cent to £69.47.

This compares to inflation over the same period of 3.8 per cent.

But Ofqual said below-inflation rises last year meant that prices rose “broadly in-line with or below inflation” over a two-year period.

Schools spend hundreds of millions of pounds in exam fees every year, and fee rises in recent years have proved controversial as leaders grapple with budget pressures.

Last year England’s biggest exam board AQA was criticised for fee rises as high as 16.5 per cent, though fees for most subjects increased by just 4 per cent. Edexcel and OCR implemented 7 per cent rises across the board.

The rise in average price of exams this year was similar to last year, when a 6.6 per cent increase was reported. However, Ofqual pointed out that last year’s rise was below the rate of inflation at the time – 9.2 per cent.

Prices ‘lag broader inflation indicators’

“Average qualification price rises were generally above consumer price inflation (3.8%) during the current reporting period.

This meant prices were “broadly in-line with or below inflation when considered over a two-year horizon. This suggests that qualification price movements lagged broader inflation indicators.”

The regulator said it can “take time for cost pressures to feed through the supply chain and directly affect fees, so a lag between headline economic indicators improving and qualification prices falling is not unexpected”.

“Alongside the complex economic picture, some awarding organisations may be investing in development of new qualifications, for instance in response to ongoing qualification reform.”

Ofqual said its findings suggest that “qualifications likely represent similar value for money to two years ago”.

“In this context, it is worth noting that Ofqual’s perception survey found that public opinion on the value for money of GCSEs, A-levels and applied generals has increased slightly.”

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