Providers and partners

Meeting programme approval and accreditation criteria

The process that tertiary education organisations must follow to meet the criteria for programme approval or accreditation is linked to external evaluation and review (EER) results. NZQA has a policy of incentives and sanctions following EER that aim to improve educational quality and performance by providing incentives for high performance.

The process and templates for submitting applications to NZQA can be found under Applications for programme approval and provider accreditation. Organisations making applications are strongly encouraged to familiarise themselves with the Guidelines for approval of programmes leading to qualifications listed on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework and accreditation of tertiary education providers. (PDF, 545KB)

All non-university tertiary education providers are placed into one of four provider categories based on their external evaluation and review (EER) results. See Provider categories following EER for more details.

The information required in applications for programme approval and accreditation is tailored to take into account the provider category.

The minimum information required from all providers is:

  • evidence of academic quality assurance approval e.g. Minutes of Academic Board approval from wananga and institutes of technology and polytechnics or for smaller PTEs detailed records of programme approval by appropriately designated people in the organisation’s quality management system
  • agreement to participate in the external consistency processes specified as part of the qualification.

Information needed to support the application is determined by the provider category:

Category 1 Providers

  • Where the tertiary education organisation can demonstrate a successful history of delivery in the subject area and at the level, full programme details need to be submitted to meet NZQA criteria requirements.
  • For delivery in a new area, or at a level above current approvals and accreditations held in the area, then the application requires full programme details to be submitted to meet NZQA criteria requirements, and a self-assessment report of the application for programme approval using the key evaluation questions.

Category 2 Providers

  • Full programme details need to be submitted to meet NZQA criteria requirements, and a self-assessment report of the application for programme approval using the key evaluation questions.

Category 3 Providers

Applications for programme approval and/or provider accreditation will be considered on a case by case basis according to:

  • any quality concerns in the EER report relate to the subject area, school or faculty where the accreditation or consent to assess is being applied for
  • the educational organisation immediately engages with NZQA subsequent to the EER and demonstrates it is meeting post-EER improvement action plan requirements within the required timeframes
  • any compliance investigations indicate quality concerns are warranted and/or widespread.

Applications must include the full programme details needed to meet NZQA criteria requirements, and a self-assessment report of the application for programme approval using the key evaluation questions.

Category 4 Providers

No new applications can be made.

  • New applications for programme approval and/or accreditation are suspended until quality improvements are demonstrated through the satisfactory completion of the post-external evaluation and review action plan.

No assigned category

Educational organisations that have not has an EER and have not been assigned a category may apply as a Category 2 provider.

Meeting the requirements for programme approval

Programme owners and educational organisations applying for programme approval need to meet the gazetted criteria. The Guidelines (PDF, 545KB) go through each of the criteria for programme approval and provide guidance on the information and/or evidence that must be included in the application to enable the decision for approval to be made.  NZQA recommends programme owners discuss their proposed programme with the qualification developer to ensure it meets the requirements for managing consistency of graduate outcomes.

NZQA must satisfy itself as to the standard and quality of every programme for which approval is sought in regard to the following criteria:

  • Qualification to which the programme leads
  • Title, aims, learning outcomes and coherence
  • Delivery methods
  • Acceptability of the programme 
  • Regulations 
  • Assessment
  • Self-assessment and external evaluation and review

 Subject matter experts

Subject Matter Expert reports no longer have to be supplied by programme applicants. NZQA may request a report from an independent subject matter expert in situations where it wants further information to assist in the review of an application.

Meeting the criteria for accreditation to deliver an approved programme

For accreditation of a tertiary education provider to provide an approved programme, NZQA must satisfy itself in relation to the following criteria:

  • assessment
  • resources
  • self-assessment and external evaluation and review

Section 3 of the Guidelines (PDF, 545KB) outlines and provides guidance on the information and/or evidence that must be included in the application under each of the above headings.

Self-assessment of an application

Programmes owners will also need to show the self-assessment of their programme or revised programme and ensure that the key evaluation questions, outlined in the Guidelines (PDF, 545KB), are answered. NZQA analysts will be assessing applications using an evaluative approach based on these questions.

For more information refer to the Guidelines (PDF, 545KB) or contact the Client Services team at NZQA.

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