BIS have issued their guidance on the management of conflict of interest for those people, business and organizations paid through the DSA scheme. This takes the form of an SSIN information notice on the Student Finance Practitioners website and has been issued directly to assessment centres and equipment suppliers.
For a number of years, the DSAQAG Framework documents used to audit assessment centres and equipment suppliers included a conflict of interest statement. This year, for the first time, conflict of interest appeared as a heading in the DSA Guidance chapter, a document that sets out the rules for the administration of DSA. However, at the time of issue, the conflict of interest section promised details to follow. Now we have them. Point 27 shows that even if there is no conflict of interest, anyone can think that there might be; presumably there will an increase in the area of audit activity on this point.
Declaration and management of conflicts of interest should be seen in the context of a National Audit Office enquiry onthis subject. The NAO focused on one company but this appears to have been a test case. Also relevant is the long-running attempt to require two quotations for the supply of non medical helper services to DSA students (the attempted introduction several years ago was curtailed by the introduction of a system for exemption from the two quotations). Universities have been called upon toend exclusive supply arrangements.