Is the provider independently inspected/accredited?

When the government pays for education, in Universities, FE Colleges and schools, it also inspects to ensure quality.  For private education, accreditation is voluntary, and in many cases not a legal requirement.

ODLQC accredited organisations offer a guaranteed good quality service that meets the Council’s published Standards.  With non-accredited providers, you have no such reassurance.

Providers may use other 'marks' to indicate quality.

A provider may have an awarding organisations’s logo in its publicity.  This does not necessarily mean that the awarding body approves or endorses the course; it may not even have looked at it.  It may just indicate a link between the course and an award.

A provider may use membership of another organisation to show that it is reputable.  If so, check:

a) is that other organisation well respected?  Suspect providers have been known to set up their own accrediting agencies or so-called national bodies to give the appearance of independent inspection and quality control.
b) under what circumstances does that other body allow its name to be used in publicity material?
c) does membership imply any real level of quality control?  Are the provider’s courses assessed or inspected?   The provider may only have to pay a fee, and do nothing else.

Membership of Investors in People, Chartermark or ISO may also be used to reassure learners.  These acknowledge quality in other areas.  They may suggest that the distance learning provision is of good quality, but do not guarantee it.

ODLQC accreditation is the best assurance of quality in distance learning.  So if the provider is not accredited by ODL QC, ask
why not.

Is help available if things go wrong?

Learners with ODLQC Accredited Providers are covered by the ODLQC Guarantee.

If you receive a poor service, or have a dispute you cannot resolve, ODLQC will look into your case.

If your provider is not accredited, and things go wrong, that reassurance is not available.   You may be on your own.