The British Council’s Rapid Response Remote Proctoring Solution for ACCA
The British Council worked in partnership with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), to develop a full service remote proctoring solution that allows candidates the option of sitting their exams at home and continuing their professional development journey in accountancy.
As the COVID-19 pandemic started to impact exams globally from March, test centre exam delivery became all but impossible in many countries as local lockdown restrictions were imposed. As a global organisation that works with over 140 UK Awarding Organisations to securely deliver 4.5 million high stakes exams annually, it was important to adapt and provide a tailored solution for our largest professional awarding organisation client.
In mid-April, with COVID-19 restrictions widespread globally, ACCA set the British Council the challenge of launching a secure remote proctoring solution by early June for ACCA’s on-demand exams, usually invigilated by ACCA approved providers worldwide. We worked tirelessly with ACCA to meet the deadline, and just eight weeks later, on 7 June, the solution went live and has been running successfully to date.
The British Council has worked with ACCA for over 30 years and has supported ACCA with their transition from pen-and-paper to computer-based testing (CBT) in over 500 locations in 130 countries worldwide. ACCA now has more than 227,000 members and 544,000 students in 176 countries and is one of the world’s fasted growing accountancy membership bodies.
What does the solution offer?
The British Council solution prioritised a smooth candidate journey to help prepare them for their exam and allowed ACCA to focus on core activities such as test item bank development and delivery, as well as raising awareness of the remote proctoring option and requirements for candidates.
The registration journey aimed to introduce and standardise critical parts of the candidate experience, and included;
- Central global candidate exam booking and payment portal
- Candidate customer service communications
- Remote proctoring slots available just seven days from booking date
- Live invigilation supported by Artificial Intelligence and biometrics checks
- Technology partner vendor management and compliance with data security requirements
- Dedicated ACCA ‘Exam At Home’ administration team
What about security?
Awarding organisations select the British Council for its world-leading reputation worldwide for ensuring security and integrity no matter how challenging the delivery locations. The live remote proctoring solution offered to ACCA allows for over 25 different artificial intelligence generated alerts, for example facial recognition, and motion and multiple person in the room detection, which are all recorded as “incidents” for action/review later. This guarantees that the integrity of the test and all security measures are up to the standards expected from ACCA and the British Council.
How successful has the project been?
Since the go live date in June, thousands of ACCA students across 90 plus countries have registered and sat an ACCA ‘Exam At Home’. ACCA aims to continue to offer this service on an ongoing basis, alongside existing test centre exam delivery, in order to reassure students that they can plan their career progression without worrying about ongoing COVID restrictions.
Sarah Corcoran, Director of e-Assessment Transformation, ACCA commented;
“ACCA aims to offer remote invigilation to students as widely as possible in circumstances and locations where our centre-based exams will need to be cancelled for health and safety reasons or are affected by disruption. At incredibly short notice, the British Council was able to innovate and meet our needs for a remote proctoring service that allowed our candidates to continue with their exams, with security built into the process every step of the way.“
What’s next for future remote proctoring collaborations?
Following a recent procurement exercise, the British Council has put in place a multi-supplier framework to partner with some of the world’s leading and most innovative remote proctoring experts.
Paul Muir, Head of CBT, concludes, “The framework offers a menu of options to suit the needs of current and future British Council Awarding Organisation clients. Going forward, the Computer Based Testing team at British Council will be able to offer impartial advice and consultancy on solutions customised to meet a particular client’s needs, and work with Awarding Organisations to roll out computer based testing using the most appropriate combination of test centre and/or remote proctoring exam delivery.”