Targeted review of qualifications

The Targeted Review of Qualification at levels 1-6 on New Zealand’s ten-level qualifications framework commenced in 2008. The review aimed to ensure that New Zealand qualifications are useful and relevant to current and future learners, employers and other stakeholders.

The Targeted Review was a key deliverable of NZQA's Statement of Intent 2009-2011. The review was initiated in response to concerns raised by employers, employees and unions about the clarity and relevance of qualifications, particularly vocational qualifications.

The 2008-09 review found that the qualifications system was difficult for learners, employers and industry to understand because it:

  • was not relevant to some employers and industry
  • was not user-friendly, and the status of qualifications was unclear
  • contained a large number of similar qualifications which made distinguishing between qualifications and identifying education/career pathways difficult.

A package of seven changes was recommended by the review and approved by the NZQA Board for implementation. These were to:

  1. Establish a unified New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF)
  2. Require the use of existing quality assured qualifications, and change the design rules for National and New Zealand qualifications to allow for more inclusion of local components
  3. Require mandatory periodic reviews of qualifications to determine whether they are still fit for purpose
  4. Strengthen and standardise qualification outcome statement requirements
  5. Introduce a mandatory pre-development assessment stage for qualification developers
  6. Strengthen industry involvement in qualification development
  7. Provide clear information about whether a qualification is active, inactive or closed.

All recommendations, apart from change 3, were implemented in 2010. Change 3 to require periodic reviews of qualifications commenced in early 2011. For more information see Reviews of Qualifications.

Overall, the changes streamline and simplify the qualifications system. The establishment of the NZQF as a single location for all qualifications has made it easier to find information about qualifications. The provision of information about the status of every qualification has reduced the number of available qualifications. The new requirements for listing qualifications on the NZQF will prevent the duplication and proliferation of qualifications.

Involved parties

The Ministry of Education, NZQA, the Tertiary Education Commission and Department of Labour worked with the Industry Training Federation, Business New Zealand and the Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics New Zealand, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, the Private Training Establishment sector and Te Tauihu o Nga Wananga on the Targeted Review of the Qualifications System.

Key milestones and documents

(The following overview is in descending order by date to ensure the most recent information is easily accessible.)

April 2011: NZQA updates The New Zealand Qualifications Framework (PDF, 1.1MB). The document contains the new NZQF level descriptors and qualifications type definitions. The original version (PDF, 527KB) of this document is also available.

February 2011: NZQA announces the Policy for reviews of qualifications and releases the draft Qualifications Review Schedule.

NZQA releases Submission results and summary: Mandatory review of qualifications at levels 1-6 (PDF, 415KB), resulting from consultation on proposals for mandatory reviews of tertiary qualifications.

January 2011: NZQA publishes a resource document Ensuring consistency of qualifications (PDF, 689KB). This discussion paper by Competency International Ltd is designed to assist qualification developers in their approach to managing consistency.

21 December 2010: NZQA announces publication of Guidelines for approval of qualifications at levels 1-6 for listing on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.

The practical guidelines, designed to assist both qualification developers and NZQA analysts, aim to make the qualification approval process clear and transparent.

They provide detailed information and guidance on the requirements for level 1-6 qualifications to be listed on the NZQF. They should be read in conjunction with the policy document, The New Zealand Qualifications Framework (PDF, 1.1MB) (version 2, published April 2011).

The guidelines also describe how decisions will be reached to approve applications. Qualification developers need to follow the NZQA template: Application for approval to develop a qualification at levels 1-6 (PDF, 732KB).

17 December 2010: Qualification developers may choose to submit qualifications under the old or new rules until 31 March 2011. Those wishing to submit under the old rules must notify NZQA by 24 December 2010. An electronic mailbox nzqfquestions@nzqa.govt.nz is available for this purpose. The mailbox is cleared daily.

Qualification developers should include the following information with their notification:

  • The title, type and level of the qualification
  • The credit value of the qualification
  • The outcome statement (graduate profile, education and employment pathways, or contribution to the community)
  • The subject area of the qualification
  • Qualification developer name and details of contact person.

The mailbox is also available for qualification developers and education providers to ask questions about the implementation of the new policies for listing and maintaining qualifications on the NZQF.

30 November 2010: New operating requirements governing certificate and diploma qualifications on the NZQF are announced; NZQA also announces transition arrangements to smooth the introduction of the new requirements. Detailed information on the new requirements are contained in the policy document, The New Zealand Qualifications Framework (PDF, 527KB) (original version; version 2 published April 2011). The new requirements reflect sector feedback (PDF, 100KB).

2 November-10 December 2010: Consultation on reviews of tertiary qualifications. NZQA seeks comment on proposals for mandatory reviews of tertiary qualifications to reduce the duplication and proliferation of qualifications.

September 2010: Progressing the changes - Submission results and summary. NZQA publishes a report (PDF, 465KB) analysing sector feedback and comments on the consultation document, Targeted Review of Qualifications: Progressing the changes - Consultation. Download Progressing the changes - Submission results and summary (PDF, 233KB).

July 2010: The New Zealand Qualifications Framework is established and quickly starts achieving some objectives.

June-July 2010: Progressing the changes - Consultation. NZQA seeks feedback on the document Targeted review of the qualifications system: Progressing the changes - Consultation (PDF, 358KB). The paper presents proposals for the design, approval and listing of qualifications on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.

December 2009: Report on consultation: Consultation submission results and summary (PDF, 233KB)

September-October 2009: Targeted Review of Qualifications. NZQA consults on proposed improvements to the qualifications system to make it more user-friendly and relevant. Consultation paper: Targeted Review of the Qualifications System focusing on certificate and diploma levels. (PDF, 385KB)

Other working papers

The working papers below are outputs of the targeted review, and contribute to discussions on the qualifications system

The number of certificates and diplomas on the New Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications (PDF, 217KB)

The clarity of certificates and diplomas on the New Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications (PDF, 114KB)

The currency of certificates and diplomas on the New Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications (PDF, 86KB)

Employers' opinions of certificates and diplomas on the New Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications (PDF, 165KB)

Certificates and diplomas in New Zealand: A description of approval, accreditation and registration processes (PDF, 256KB)

Qualification Developers' Experiences of Certificates and Diplomas on the New Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications (PDF, 458KB)

Learners' experiences of certificates and diplomas on the New Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications (PDF, 155KB)

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