Degree approval, accreditation and monitoring

Tertiary education organisations may choose to offer degrees and related qualifications at levels 7-10 on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF).

Each new degree or related qualification needs a programme(s) that leads to it, and any institution that intends to deliver the programme needs accreditation to provide the programme.

NZQA evaluates applications for degree programme approval and/or accreditation from tertiary education organisations, other than universities, against NZQA rules made under the Education Act 1989. These rules ensure that all approved qualifications and programmes leading to degrees or related qualifications meet a consistently high standard.

After the degree qualification and programme are approved, NZQA monitors delivery to ensure the institution is delivering the programme as intended and to an acceptable standard.

The qualifications that tertiary education organisations can provide include:

Relevant NZQA Rules and Guidelines

To ensure the degree and programme are fit for purpose they must meet the relevant criteria listed in the NZQA rules:

All degrees and related qualifications must be taught mainly by people engaged in research and emphasise general principles and basic knowledge as the basis for self-directed work and learning.

See section 253B of the Education Act 1989 for the relevant legislation on granting degrees.

NZQA Guidelines for degree programmes and related qualifications

The Degrees and Related Qualifications: Guidelines for Programme Approval and Accreditation to Provide Programmes (PDF, 732KB) explain the requirements of the relevant rules and give detailed guidance on how to address the approval and/or accreditation criteria.

They also detail what information may be included in an application for a degree programme or related qualification.

Consult the Guidelines before submitting an application, and contact your institutes of technology and polytechnics advisor, or degree advisor for private training establishments and wānanga, with any questions about making an application.

NZQA quality assurance processes for providing degrees and related qualifications

Programme approval is confirmation that a programme meets the NZQA rules made under the Education Act 1989 for degree programmes.

Accreditation to provide a degree or related qualification is confirmation that an institution has shown it is capable of delivering the approved programme.

Only registered and accredited institutions can deliver approved programmes of study, including degree programmes.

Degree and related qualification monitoring involves an independent monitor with relevant subject expertise or sector experience reviewing the degree or related qualification to ensure it is being delivered as intended. Institutions may also monitor programmes and related qualifications through an annual self-review report, known as the Annual Programme Evaluation review (APER).

Changes to degree and related qualification approvals occur when an institution amends the structure, outcomes, mode of delivery or credit value of a degree programme. Depending on the impact of the change, NZQA may have to approve it before amended programmes are provided to learners.

Site approval is needed for each permanent site used to deliver any approved programme of study, including degree programmes. However, institutions only need to notify NZQA of temporary delivery sites.

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