The cost for a home educated student to sit all nine of their iGCSE exams is just under £3,500.
Only £626.76 represents the actual cost of the exams, while the rest, amounting to £2,867, is made up of administration fees.
David Ashford asked Education Minister Julie Edge in Tynwald last week where home educated students can sit their iGCSE exams, what recent changes have been made to the arrangements of such exams, and why those changes have been made.
She said: ‘Previously, secondary schools have allowed examinations to be taken at the school for home educated students for a small administration fee.
‘However, following discussions ahead of the 22/23 academic year it was agreed that secondary schools would no longer accept external candidates.
‘This decision has been made due to potential safeguarding concerns when students are attending schools in order to sit exams.
‘The department is reviewing exam fees for home educated students to ensure a parity of provision for all.’
Ms Edge added that the ‘final position’ would be ‘enshrined in a refresh policy’ which will be published in due course.
Mr Ashford argued that this change in policy had resulted in a ‘ludicrous’ change in cost.
He explained that there used to be a small administration fee, which he believed to be £5 per exam, but this has risen exponentially since students have been redirected to UCM.
The Douglas North MHK asked if Ms Edge was aware of this.
The minister said: ‘I am aware. I’ve had some communications with a family that are trying to sit exams this year.
‘UCM does have to charge for people who are sitting outside of normal exam sessions and I’m not fully aware of what all the exams were.
‘We will publish a fresh policy shortly.’
Mr Ashford pointed out that the admin fee is ‘five and a half times’ the cost of the exams.
‘It won’t just be admin,’ Ms Edge said. ‘It will be people acting as invigilators throughout the exam periods and it’s possible it could be one to one.
‘I have the same concerns. We will be ensuring that home educated students have the same parity of provision going forward.’
Following the sitting, Mr Ashford said: ‘It can’t possibly be justified and is penalising those who either have to re-sit due to issues beyond their control or opt for home schooling.’
He also mentioned that UCM has a cut off date for exams of December 15 despite exam bodies setting a date of February, which has ‘left families looking for options for their children to sit exams in the UK’. The minister said she would look into this.