External evaluation and review

NZQA is responsible for ensuring that tertiary education organisations continue to comply with the statutory policies and criteria after initial programme approval and accreditation and/or registration is granted. In the case of universities this responsibility is delegated to the NZ Vice-Chancellors' Committee.

Engagement in periodic external evaluation and review is one of NZQA's policies. Each external evaluation and review provides an independent judgement of the educational performance and capability in self-assessment of all non-university tertiary education organisations (TEOs).

By educational performance is meant the extent to which the educational outcomes achieved by the TEO represent quality and value for learners and the wider community.

An evaluation of educational performance involves answering questions focused primarily on the quality of learning and teaching, and the achievements of learners.

Judgements on capability in self-assessment indicate how effectively an organisation uses self-assessment information to understand performance and bring about improvement.

Through periodic external evaluation and review TEOs are held accountable to their students, employers, funders, quality assurance bodies and other interested parties. The review process also provides information to support improvement across the tertiary education sector.

Who participates in external evaluation and review?

Self assessment and external evaluation are requirements of programme approval and accreditation (authorised under section 253 of the Education Act 1989) for all non-university TEOs that are entitled to apply.

These requirements are set through the programme approval and accreditation policies and procedures in the Guidelines for approval of programmes of study leading to qualifications listed on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework and accreditation of tertiary education providers (PDF, 545KB).

Registered private training establishments

The criteria and policies for the registration of private training establishments requires self-assessment and external evaluation and review at an organisational level in addition to the individual programmes they own or provide.

These requirements, policies and rules are set by NZQA under section 253 of the Education Act 1989. See the External Evaluation and Review Rules 2013 for more information about these requirements.

ACE providers

ACE providers who are not also private training establishments do not have to undergo external evaluation and review. Instead, NZQA monitors and regulates ACE providers through the annual reports and attestations they submit.


Universities are not required to participate in NZQA external evaluation and review. Instead, they are subject to regular academic audits undertaken by the Academic Quality Agency for New Zealand Universities.

Approach to external evaluation and review

Prior to participating in external evaluation and review, all TEOs are required to submit to NZQA a compliance declaration. For further information about compliance declarations, see TEO compliance declaration.

The evaluation team uses assessment methods, tools and processes to reach reliable and valid judgements about educational performance and capability in self-assessment.

An external evaluation and review involves four key stages:

  1. Develop the scope and the plan of enquiry.
  2. Undertake the enquiry on-site.
  3. Reach judgements.
  4. Report findings.

NZQA will report the judgements as one of four levels of confidence: Highly Confident, Confident, Not Yet Confident or Not Confident.

For information on the conduct of external evaluation and review by NZQA, see Policy and Guidelines for the Conduct of External Evaluation and Review.

For a procedural guide to the EER process, see Information for Private Training Establishments and Wananga on External Evaluation and Review

The approach to the external evaluation and review of industry training organisations (ITOs) is detailed in two documents, see EER Policy and Guidelines - ITO Supplement and Evaluation Indicators for Industry Training Organisations

EER visits and reports

External evaluation and reviews are initiated through an annual scheduling process and occur at least once every four years. For more information on upcoming visits see EER schedule.

A report is published for each EER completed. To view reports for those EERs completed over 2009-2012 see EER reports.

Further information

If you have any questions or require further information, contact the Service Support team.

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