A body responsible for the regulation of national qualifications up to those offered by universities and other institutions of higher education, and including those such as the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and the General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (A level), and for monitoring the regime of national testing. Schools which have problems or issues with any aspect of national testing are able to raise these with Ofqual directly. Ofqual began to operate in shadow form in April 2008. Although it works closely with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, it is an independent body with the status of a non‐ministerial department, and is responsible for reporting to Parliament in the first instance, rather than direct to government. One of its roles is to determine the terms on which organizations which award their own qualifications may gain national recognition for them. Two of the issues which come under its remit are the question of whether A levels and GCSEs in some subjects are more difficult than those in others, and whether judgements about the relative difficulty of different subjects could result in the setting of differentiated examination grade boundaries.