Guidelines for the recognition and award of credit for learning

Closed 03 Nov 2017

From 22 September to 3 November 2017, The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) consulted on Guidelines for the recognition and award of credit for learning (the Guidelines). Consultation is now closed.

The Guidelines provide advice and information to tertiary education organisations (TEOs) so they can develop policies and processes to enable further recognition of learning for credit.

There are a wide range of ways in which learning can be recognised for credit. NZQA uses the terms credit recognition and transfer (CRT) and recognition of prior learning (RPL).

Effective CRT and RPL assists learners to move easily between tertiary education organisations, and progress in work and study without having to repeat learning and experiences or take additional credit.

A learner-centred approach

The Guidelines recommend a learner-centred approach to the recognition of learning for credit. Effective and appropriate policies and processes for CRT and RPL focus on the knowledge, skills and attributes that learners have and can demonstrate.

The Guidelines:

  • outline that learning can be assessed for credit based on equivalence to outcomes on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF)
  • provide guidance on how to best assist learners in having their learning recognised for credit through CRT and RPL
  • outline quality assurance requirements to maintain the credibility and integrity of qualifications, and credit awarded.

Consultation feedback

NZQA sought feedback on the Guidelines from other government agencies, stakeholder groups and subject matter experts, as well as the views of the public, to ensure that the Guidelines (HTML or PDF) (PDF, 475KB) are useful, appropriate and fit-for-purpose.

Consultation questions

NZQA asked for feedback through a survey, which closed at 5pm Friday 3 November 2017. The survey asked the consultation questions below.

  1. Are the views expressed in this survey a) your personal views; b) your organisation's views - i) name of your organisation.
  2. How well do the Guidelines support TEOs to develop the systems, policies and processes for effective recognition of learning for credit?
  3. What additional information could be included in the Guidelines to support TEOs to integrate CRT and RPL into their overall systems?
  4. What additional information could be included in the Guidelines to assist TEOs to assess learners for CRT and RPL?
  5. What additional information could be included in the Guidelines to maintain the integrity and credibility of credit awarded?
  6. Do you have any other comments on the Guidelines?

Number of submissions

NZQA received 25 submissions as detailed in the following table:

Submission author type

Number of responses

Peak Body

1

Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs)

5

Industry Training Organisations (ITOs)

2

Private Training Establishments (PTEs)

10

Individual

5

Other stakeholders

2

Total: 25

Detailed summary of submissions

How well do the Guidelines support tertiary education organisations (TEOs) to develop the systems, policies and processes for effective recognition of learning for credit?

Very wellWellNot very wellNot at all
8 12 5 0

What additional information could be included in the Guidelines to support TEOs to integrate credit recognition and transfer (CRT) and recognition of prior learning (RPL) into their overall systems?

Submissions made a number of recommendations for further improving the guidelines.

Some TEOs pointed out that the terminology used in the Guidelines (CRT and RPL) to describe processes for the recognition of learning for credit differs from that used within their institutions. They also observed that terms may be used interchangeably and in some cases, they overlap without clear explanation. All of this has the potential to create confusion.

One respondent said, “it is noted that the wide variety of terms currently in use within the sector may make it confusing for some people to engage”, while another said that it would “be good if the guidelines could promote more consistency around language.”

To help avoid misunderstanding, some submissions suggested that the terms in the Guidelines are clarified and proposed the inclusion of a glossary.

Submissions also asked for additional detail to be added in the Guidelines, to illustrate how CRT and RPL can be better incorporated into TEO enrolment process and other systems.

It was recommended that the Guidelines include information about the CRT and RPL process for international students and how it may affect their immigration student visa status.

A few submissions requested guidance for TEOs regarding the fees they can charge students for CRT and RPL, given the impact those processes have on internal resources, funding by the Tertiary Education Commission and student eligibility for student loans and allowances.

Some submissions recommended that the Guidelines should more explicitly state the responsibility TEOs have in promoting CRT and RPL, and in proactively identifying the needs of individual students.

What additional information could be included in the Guidelines to assist TEOs to assess learners for CRT and RPL?

Recommendations focused on increasing the number of examples and case studies within the Guidelines. Some submissions suggested that there should be at least two examples and/or case studies for both CRT and RPL, and that examples of poor practice could also be helpful in showing TEOs what not to do. Advice on what counts as sufficient and acceptable evidence for RPL assessments was also requested.

Some submissions asked NZQA to provide CRT and RPL training for TEO staff or to provide trained assessors to TEOs when needed.

Several TEOs commented that applications for CRT or RPL should be made by students within a certain timeframe prior to or during the enrolment period. The process is important in determining the most suitable programme of study and therefore should be done as early as possible. TEOs also need to have sufficient time to carry out the process without rushing it.

One respondent observed that the recognition of learning for credit should be a pro-active conversation with the student, “and establishing this at the start of the programme is the best time, so that an individualised programme of study can be created.”

What additional information could be included in the Guidelines to maintain the integrity and credibility of credit awarded?

The majority of submissions were supportive of the Guidelines’ focus on maintaining the integrity and credibility of credits awarded through CRT and RPL, especially through existing quality assurance processes such as External Evaluation and Review (EER). One submission suggested that CRT or RPL should be a mandatory focus area within EER.

Recommendations were made for more detailed Guidelines, to avoid the risk of inconsistency between TEOs in applying CRT and RPL. A standardised framework to be used across all TEOs was suggested.

Some submissions requested that specific guidance be included on using CRT or RPL for the award of entire qualifications to domestic and international students, in cases where the assessment shows that all of the outcomes are met. This type of credit award carries an inherent risk which could be mitigated by specific guidance on best practice.

Do you have any other comments on the Guidelines?

The majority of comments were supportive of the Guidelines and agreed that they provide better clarity on CRT and RPL practice. For RPL, in particular, feedback indicates that TEOs welcomed guidance on quality assessment, to emphasise the equal standing of experiential learning for the benefit of learners.

NZQA response to submissions

NZQA has revised the Guidelines to take into account the feedback received.

The Guidelines now:

  • refer only to CRT and RPL and recommends the use of these terms by TEOs
  • provide more information regarding professional requirements and how these may affect CRT and RPL for learners seeking professional qualifications
  • include information relating to international students
  • include a case study for CRT
  • are clearer that CRT and RPL is best undertaken before enrolment into a programme, bearing in mind that learners should be able to request CRT and RPL at any stage.

NZQA carefully considered feedback requesting that the Guidelines:

  • be much more specific in its guidance for CRT and RPL, such as through a number of case studies
  • provide more detail about assessment practice and evidence requirements
  • better outline how CRT and RPL may be best integrated into TEOs’ systems.

The above suggestions have not been incorporated into the Guidelines because they are at a level of detail that may not be appropriate for the range of contexts in which TEOs operate. The Guidelines are intended to outline concepts and principles underpinning effective CRT and RPL that TEOs may use and apply according to their own circumstances.

Please send any questions regarding the consultation to qadconsultation@nzqa.govt.nz.

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