A2C aims to improve the way data is shared between awarding organisations and learning providers using their Management Information Systems (MIS). The A2C Data Exchange Project is led by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), of which Pearson is a member.
A2C - Your questions answered
The aim of A2C is to use one data-messaging standard for all qualifications to improve interaction between awarding organisations. It will include general qualifications like GCE and GCSE, vocational qualifications like BTEC and NVQ, and on-demand qualifications like onscreen exams. It will replace and improve upon the existing JCQ EDI formats and Edexcel’s EDIFACT format. It will apply across all JCQ awarding organisations, and the standard is designed to be open, to allow other non-JCQ awarding bodies to use it.
A2C will improve the way data is transferred and provide enriched information from awarding organisations to customers. Awarding organisation extranets, such as Edexcel Online, will continue to exist and be used, but some of the additional functionality that's available using these extranets will be available through your MIS.
The A2C Project will take place in two stages:
- Stage 1 - Transport Phase: This will simplify the way files are transferred between awarding organisations and centres, and make this service free.
All centres will be provided with the file transfer system, the 'A2C Migration Application'. The service is free and will replace the Value Added Network providers (VANs, or carriers). There is no other change to the content of files or the way they are produced.
- Stage 2 - Messaging Phase: This will enrich the data that can be transferred between awarding organisations and centres.
We plan to begin a controlled pilot within the 2018-19 academic year (alongside other vocational AOs). After a successful pilot, we will have a controlled roll-out to all vocational qualification customers with an A2C message compliant MIS from September 2019.
We plan to pilot A2C messages for General Qualifications in 2019-20. After a successful pilot, we will have a controlled roll-out to all general qualification customers with an A2C message compliant MIS from September 2020.
Once it's been developed (expected completion is December 2014), MIS providers will contact their centres about either upgrading their software or installing and using new software.
The JCQ is leading the project and is liaising with exams officers and MIS suppliers to develop the new transport and data standard and messages. AVCO Systems has developed the A2C Migration Application.
AVCO has sent invitations to all existing centres to download and install the Migration Application. If you haven't received an invitation, you can download the system from a2c.avcosystems.com.
The download is a quick, one-off process. Once it's installed, you'll need an access key from each awarding organisation that you use (for example, Edexcel, AQA or OCR). The access key is a security measure to ensure that the data is transferred securely.
You'll then be able to use A2C for sending and receiving EDI files.
Exams officers, teachers, MIS managers and MIS suppliers can find out more on the new A2C website. Edexcel, the JCQ and the other awarding organisations will keep you informed of the progress of the project.
If you have any Edexcel A2C-related questions, please contact us.
A2C troubleshooting and FAQs
This means your computer is unable to verify the authenticity of the server. Make sure that your computer is up to date and, if you're using Windows XP, that you have installed the latest root certificate update.
You can check for new files at any time by clicking on ‘Send/Receive’ button. We recommend that you do this when you start up.
The application will check for files automatically at regular intervals. How frequently depends upon the polling interval you have set. If this is set to 60 minutes, the check will take place 60 minutes after starting the application. This will also apply to any files waiting to be sent in your outbox. If you don’t click on ‘Send/Receive’ they will remain in your outbox until the next polling interval.
Yes. Even if you have submitted an entry file using your VAN carrier, amendment files will still be processed if received via the Migration Application. Results files will also be issued using the new application.
We're aware that some centres have experienced a problem, but as yet have been unable to reproduce the issue on our systems. You may be able to fix it by following this guide.
Some awarding organisations require you to log in as the centre administrator rather than as a normal centre user or exam officer in order to download the access keys.
The A2C Migration Application has replaced the old carrier systems, providing a direct link to awarding organisations. We are aware that some centres use VANs for file transfers for other reasons, but they're not necessary for sending files to awarding organisations.
No, there's no change. The A2C Migration Application replaces your existing carrier/VAN - all other processes remain the same.
The application is designed to run on a single PC. If you need to use network sharing, we recommend you use a shared path for your inbox and outbox directories and leave the A2C Migration Application running on one machine. Please see your ICT technician to configure this appropriately.
First, check your spam and antivirus filters. If you still haven't received it, please contact AVCO Systems.
If you don't use EDI, then there is no need to install. You will be able to continue to use the extranets as you do now. If you would like to stop receiving reminders to download the application, please contact us.
This is normally resolved by correcting the permissions level to the appropriate folders. Make sure you have permission to read and write both C:\Documents and settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\Crypto on Windows XP or C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Crypto on Vista or Windows 7. See more detailed information here.
No. All awarding organisations stopped sending files by the VANs at the end of August 2012, so you can no longer send or receive files using a VAN.
No, it's intended to run on a single desktop machine, used by the exams officer.
It does not need to be running all the time, but we suggest that may be useful.
The application periodically sends files from the outbox and checks for any files waiting to be downloaded to the inbox, similar to the way email systems work.
If you close the application and open it again later, you will not miss or lose any data. You can check for new files at any time by clicking the ‘Send/Receive’ button. Once the application is running it will check regularly for new files. You can configure how frequently the system makes these checks.
At the moment there are no plans to distribute basedata via the Migration Application. To access basedata you will need to go to each awarding organisation's website.
Please ensure your machine has internet activity and your proxy server is correctly configured. The only port the A2C Migration Application requires outbound access to is 443, so please ensure this is enabled on any firewall.
The A2C Migration Application requires Windows XP SP3 or later and Microsoft .NET 3.5 SP1.
You can check if the awarding organisation has received a sent file. Within the ‘Logs’ screen, under the ‘Sent Files’ tab, in the ‘Receipted’ column you should see a ‘yes’ against each file sent.
In addition, AQA, Edexcel EDIFACT and WJEC will continue to send acknowledgement files, sometimes known as ‘X’ files. The time taken to receive an acknowledgement can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the exam series and the individual awarding organisation.
The beta keys were for test centre numbers, and are no longer valid. Please uninstall them and obtain new access keys from the awarding organisations.
The A2C Migration Application requires the Microsoft .NET framework version 3.5 SP1. You can download it here.
Please ensure your machine has internet connectivity and your proxy server is correctly configured. The only port the A2C Migration Application requires outbound access to is 443 so please ensure this is enabled on any firewall. The following addresses may need to be allowed through the proxy: