Minister acts to beat student fraud

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The Government yesterday conceded for the first time that there was a risk of widespread fraud in the system for obtaining National Vocational Qualifications and orderd an urgent programme to curb abuse.

Critics of the NVQs have pointed out that training organisations and colleges have been awarding certificates to students with minimal independent scrutiny. The temptation to grant spurious NVQs has been heightened by output-related funding.

James Paice, the Employment minister, yesterday announced measures to eliminate the risk of fraud and launched a drive to improve quality, saying: "I am very conscious that NVQs have their critics and those criticisms must not be dismissed ... There mustbe no scope for abuse in their award."