Principles and Procedures in the Evaluation of Overseas Qualifications


  1. Evaluation is performed without discrimination. This includes (and is not limited to) racial, religious, political or other opinion, sexual, gender, colour, disability, language, national, ethnic or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status, or on the grounds of any other circumstance not related to the merits of the qualification for which recognition is sought. 
  2. Holders of overseas qualifications have adequate access, upon application, to an evaluation of their qualifications.
  3. The procedures and criteria used in the evaluation of overseas qualifications will be as transparent, coherent and reliable as is reasonably possible. The methodology used aims to make assessment procedures consistent and clear ensuring applicants receive a fair consideration of their application.
  4. Procedures for the evaluation of overseas qualifications are periodically reviewed and updated as necessary.
  5. The general approach to overseas qualifications and how they are compared to a particular system takes into account the diversity of educational traditions and systems.
  6. The same basic methodology applies whether the evaluation is for:
    1. general employment purposes
    2. further study
    3. entry into a regulated occupation
    4. immigration
  7. The Evaluation criteria provide for the treating of similar cases in a reasonably similar manner. It is recognised nevertheless that a margin of flexibility in making recognition decisions is essential, and that decisions will to some extent vary according to overseas systems of education.  

    Guidelines for Assessment Procedures and Criteria

    General procedure

  8. The evaluation of an overseas qualification will:
    1. endeavour to situate the qualification within the education system to which it belongs, taking into account its relative position and function compared to other qualifications in the same system;
    2. identify the level and type (where possible) of qualification in New Zealand that is most comparable to the overseas qualification, taking into account the purpose for which recognition is sought;
    3. determine whether similarities between overseas and New Zealand qualifications are sufficient for recognition to be given.
  9. Evaluations take into account past practice in similar cases for consistency in recognition practice. Five years of past evaluations are recorded in a database, which is used and reflected upon as decisions are considered. Substantial change(s) of recognition are noted by way of evaluation type, and are justified and recorded in the case notes.  
  10. Decisions are based on the information available to the recognition service at the time the evaluation is performed. Further information, provided and/or gleaned after the evaluation, may result in the modification of the evaluation decision.

    Processing time and delay

  11. The time normally required to process evaluations is specified on the NZQA website. The time begins once all relevant information has been provided by applicants and/or educational institutions. In cases of substantial delay, NZQA informs applicants of the reasons for the delay and, where possible, the estimated time required to complete the evaluation.

    Information requirements

  12. The NZQA website provides standard information on the procedures and criteria for the evaluation of overseas qualifications. This information is available to all applicants as well as to persons making preliminary inquiries about the evaluation of qualifications, and includes the following:
    1. the documentation required and requirements related to the authentication and translation of documents
    2. the role of professional associations and educational institutions in the recognition process
    3. the status of the evaluation report
    4. the expected time needed to process an application
    5. the fees charged
    6. a description of the assessment process
    7. a description of the assessment criteria
    8. a reference to the national laws and international conventions and agreements which may be relevant to the assessment of foreign qualifications
    9. the conditions and procedures for reviewing decisions
  13. Decisions on recognition shall be made on the basis of appropriate information on the qualifications for which recognition is sought.
    1. notwithstanding the responsibility of the applicant for providing information on the qualification for which the recognition is sought, the duty is also shared by the educational institutions where the qualifications in question were earned and the recognition service of the country in which recognition is sought.
    2. the recognition service is responsible for providing the applicant with complete information regarding its requirements for qualification evaluation.
    3. the recognition service is responsible for maintaining a system of information on educational systems.
    4. the applicant is responsible for providing documents and information required for the evaluation.
    5. educational institutions are responsible for providing information about qualifications earned at the institutions and other relevant information, such as course content, programme structure, etc.


  14. The fees for the evaluation of overseas qualifications are set on the basis of cost recovery.


  15. Translation is limited to key documents.
  16. Original documents, including the titles of overseas qualifications, should be provided in the original language.

    Document Requirements

  17. Original/official documents are normally required for evaluation. Where certified copies of certain documents are permissible this will be specified.
  18. Documents that clearly indicate successful completion of academic programme requirements are necessary for evaluation. Educational documents that indicate failed, unsuccessful or incomplete academic programmes will not be considered.
  19. In some exceptional cases, such as for refugees and others who are unable to document their qualifications for good reason, NZQA will consider whether there are alternative ways at recognising their claimed qualifications including sworn statements before a legal authority may be accepted in lieu of full documentation. NZQA will specify the statements it may require to be sworn on a case by case basis.
  20. All submitted documents are examined for evidence of tampering or misrepresentation. Original documents and certified proofs of academic achievements are closely examined by evaluators to verify their authenticity.
  21. The presence of fraudulent or altered documents will lead to refusal to issue an evaluation report. Verification by the issuing institution or authorities in the country of origin is conducted if it is suspected that documents have been altered or falsified. Further evaluation will not be carried out if it is found that documents have been falsified in any way. In such cases no refund of application fees will be made and the matter (and all application information involved) may be referred to the necessary authorities.

    Status of institutions and programmes

  22. The recognition of a qualification will not be established without taking into account the quality assurance status of the programme and/or institution at which the qualification was earned.
  23. Recognition will only be considered for qualifications attained through recognised institutions. A recognised institution is one that has been formally recognised by competent authorities in a country and/or that is widely accepted by other institutions and agencies inside or outside the country.
  24. A qualification will be recognised only if the related programme is also recognised by the relevant competent authority. Recognition of an educational institution does not guarantee the recognition of all qualifications issued by that institution.

    Purpose/outcome of assessment

  25. Whilst qualifications evaluation is carried out on a case by case basis, in general it is expected that qualifications issued at a specific date from a specific educational institution would have a reasonably consistent evaluation outcome in terms of broad comparative academic level.  
  26. Qualification evaluation takes into account the purpose for which recognition is sought, and the evaluation report will indicate the purpose for which the evaluation was undertaken.
  27. The evaluation of an overseas qualification will provide, as required, information regarding general employment purposes, admission into further study programmes and information regarding the relevant regulatory body responsible for occupational registration.

    Level of study

  28. The evaluation of a given qualification considers the entry and completion requirements for the programme that were in place when the qualification was completed.
  29. Qualifications may be evaluated separately or together depending on what is most appropriate to the particular evaluation purpose.
  30. The evaluation is based on the qualifications presented for evaluation but will cite the completion of prerequisite qualifications if those prerequisite qualifications are germane to the evaluation.

    Evaluation criteria

  31. A variety of criteria are considered to determine the level and type of educational programmes, including:
    1. entrance requirements (e.g. what are the normal admission requirements for entrance to the programme? What is the level of study in the home country?)
    2. full-time duration of study programme (e.g. what is the normal full-time duration of the programme?)
    3. structure of programme (e.g. how is the programme structured? What type of programme is it, such as vocational, academic, etc.?)
    4. contents of the programme (e.g. in what discipline? What courses? How many hours of study?)
    5. position and function of the qualification within the jurisdiction of the home country qualification system
    6. bridges to further study (e.g. what access does the programme give to other programmes in the home country?)
    7. Learning outcomes of the programme will take precedence over consideration of the educational programme that has led to the qualification.  

    Duration of study programme

  32. Each academic year of study, as recognised by the official designated authority in the country of origin, will, in general, be granted no more than one academic year of recognition. However, this year-to-year comparison may be overruled by other factors, such as learning outcomes, structure and content of the educational programme.


  33. The recognition service informs applicants of the outcome reached and why it was arrived at, the process for a request for a review of the outcome, and the time limits that are observed for this.
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