Certification and Accreditation

Important guidance on UKAS Accredited Certification Bodies and IRCA Registered Lead Auditor training

The International Register of Certificated Auditors (IRCA)

The Scottish Quality Management Centre is accredited by the the world's original and largest international auditor certification body, known by the acronym, IRCA. We are also an 'Approved Training Partner' of the Chartered Quality Institute.

IRCA was formed in 1984 as part of the UK government's enterprise initiative, designed to make industry and business more competitive, through the implementation of quality principles and practices. As well as IRCA, this structure included an accreditation body (now known as UKAS -- see below), a national Standard-making body (BSI Standards), and a number of commercial certification bodies. The original Quality management Standard used was British Standard BS 5750, which has since evolved to become an international Standard: ISO 9001.

With the help of partnering training organisations such as SQMC, IRCA promotes auditing as a valued profession, through the promotion of auditing best practice. 

Which of the IRCA training courses does SQMC carry?

The Scottish Quality Management Centre offer 11 courses in our syllabus that are SQMC Certified, plus one which is IRCA Certified -- our ISO 9001:2015 Lead Auditor. This is the most advanced qualification in Quality Management Systems auditing, and is required by IRCA as part of their personal auditor registration scheme; something Lead Auditor students often pursue. For many years, SQMC also offered IRCA branded qualifications in ISO 9001 Foundation and Internal Auditor courses. However, this policy is discontinued as of 1st January 2017 in response to changing preferences and requirements in the auditor training marketplace.

The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS)

UKAS is the sole national accreditation body recognised by government to assess (against internationally agreed Standards) the organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services.

UKAS is a non-profit-distributing private company, limited by guarantee.

What is the ‘tick and crown’?

There is one symbol that is common to all activities accredited by UKAS – the Royal Crown.  This signifies Government recognition.  The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) has licensed UKAS to use accreditation symbols featuring the Royal Crown and to sub-license the use of these marks to UKAS accredited organisations.

Why is the UKAS ‘tick and crown’ crucial?

The UKAS 'Tick and Crown' is an assurance that an organisation is auditing consistently to the interpretation and in the application of the Management Systems Standard. Only UKAS-approved Certification Bodies have the authority to provide Registration Certificates (for example, to ISO 9001) which feature the Tick and Crown; which is the common 'yardstick' of compliance in the UK and internationally.

Why don’t SQMC provide ISO 9001 certificates?

Although it's legally possible for non-UKAS accredited companies to provide their clients with certificates that testify of their compliance to a certain Standard (e.g. ISO 9001), SQMC will never offer such as service – for the following reasons:

  • We believe there is no genuine value in an ISO 9001 certificate which is printed, signed and awarded by the same company that put your Systems in place and provided your Quality Manual – due to an obvious conflict of interests.
  • We employ 3rd party Auditors who work for many well-known UKAS-approved Certification Bodies; and they all have cited personal experiences of large business deals breaking down when one party assesses the other's certification papers – only to discover that their ISO 9001 certificate is not recognised by UKAS.  Although we acknowledge that going down the ‘UKAS route’ is not for the feint-hearted, we believe that anything less will be a ‘false economy’, if your certificate may be rejected as an unreliable guarantee of compliance.  SQMC would hate for this to happen to one of our clients!
  • Therefore, we urge you to ask questions before contracting any company which offers 'guaranteed ISO 9001 certification in X amount of days'.  We recommend that you ask if they are UKAS accredited, and request written evidence of this.  While they may offer excellent service as consultants, don't you want to ensure that the certificate they provide will be accepted by everyone?  Think long-term.  After all, a bargain is only a bargain if you can use it for the purpose for which it was bought; and – as with most things in life – if it seems too good to be true... (you know the rest!)