Understanding New Zealand qualifications

The New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) is the definitive source for accurate and current information on quality assured qualifications in New Zealand. This page provides an overview of New Zealand qualifications: the information you can find on the NZQF about the purpose, types and levels of qualifications. More detailed information for qualification developers is available under Listing qualifications on the NZQF and Reviews of qualifications.

Titles of qualifications

Over time, new and reviewed qualifications at levels 1-6 listed on the NZQF will have "New Zealand" in their title. The use of the term "National" or a provider name in a qualifications title is being phased out as qualifications are reviewed. "National" will continue to be used to distinguish secondary school qualifications at levels 1-3, namely National Certificates of Educational Achievement. For more information about the development of the NZQF, see History of NZQF.

Types and levels

Level descriptors and qualification types on the NZQF

Qualification types

All quality assured qualifications listed on the NZQF fit into a qualification type: a certificate, diploma or degree. Each qualification type is defined by an agreed set of criteria which includes the level at which the qualification is listed and the number of credits required at each level. Below is a list of qualification types with linked definitions.

All qualifications on the NZQF are listed in accordance with an agreed set of definitions. To see the definition click on the qualification type:

Levels of qualifications

The NZQF has ten levels. Levels are based on complexity, with level 1 the least complex and level 10 the most complex. All qualifications on the NZQF are assigned one of the ten levels. It is possible for qualifications to include credit achieved at levels above and below the overall level at which the qualification is listed.

Level descriptors table

The table below provides a detailed description of each level in terms of learning outcomes, using common domains and dimensions of progression. Knowledge, skills and application describe what a graduate at a particular level is expected to know, do and be. The term application encompasses responsibility, behaviours, attitudes, attributes and competence.

LEVELKNOWLEDGESKILLSAPPLICATION
1

Basic general and/or foundation knowledge

Apply basic solutions to simple problems

Apply basic skills required to carry out simple tasks

Highly structured contexts

Requiring some responsibility for own learning

Interacting with others

2

Basic factual and/or operational knowledge of a field of work or study

Apply known solutions to familiar problems

Apply standard processes relevant to the field of work or study

General supervision

Requiring some responsibility for own learning and performance

Collaborating with others

3

Some operational and theoretical knowledge in a field of work or study

Select and apply from a range of known solutions to familiar problems

Apply a range of standard processes relevant to the field of work or study

Limited supervision

Requiring major responsibility for own learning and performance

Adapting own behaviour when interacting with others

Contributing to group performance

4

Broad operational and theoretical knowledge in a field of work or study

Select and apply solutions to familiar and sometimes unfamiliar problems

Select and apply a range of standard and non-standard processes relevant to the field of work or study

Self-management of learning and performance under broad guidance

Some responsibility for performance of others

5

Broad operational or technical and theoretical knowledge within a specific field of work or study

Select and apply a range of solutions to familiar and sometimes unfamiliar problems

Select and apply a range of standard and non-standard processes relevant to the field of work or study

Complete self-management of learning and performance within defined contexts

Some responsibility for the management of learning and performance of others

6

Specialised technical or theoretical knowledge with depth in a field of work or study

Analyse and generate solutions to familiar and unfamiliar problems

Select and apply a range of standard and non-standard processes relevant to the field of work or study

Complete self-management of learning and performance within dynamic contexts

Responsibility for leadership within dynamic contexts

7

Specialised technical or theoretical knowledge with depth in one or more fields of work or study

Analyse, generate solutions to unfamiliar and sometimes complex problems

Select, adapt and apply a range of processes relevant to the field of work or study

Advanced generic skills and/or specialist knowledge and skills in a professional context or field of study

8 Advanced technical and/or theoretical knowledge in a discipline or practice, involving a critical understanding of the underpinning key principles

Analyse, generate solutions to complex and sometimes unpredictable problems

Evaluate and apply a range of processes relevant to the field of work or study

Developing identification with a profession and/or discipline through application of advanced generic skills and/or specialist knowledge and skills

Some responsibility for integrity of profession or discipline

9 Highly specialised knowledge, some of which is at the forefront of knowledge, and a critical awareness of issues in a field of study or practice

Develop and apply new skills and techniques to existing or emerging problems

Mastery of the field of study or practice to an advanced level

Independent application of highly specialised knowledge and skills within a discipline or professional practice

Some responsibility for leadership within the profession or discipline

10 Knowledge at the most advanced frontier of a field of study or professional practice Critical reflection on existing knowledge or practice and the creation of new knowledge

Sustained commitment to the professional integrity and to the development of new ideas or practices at the forefront of discipline or professional practice

Outcome statement

All qualifications on the NZQF contain an outcome statement which describes the knowledge, skills and attributes of a graduate.

Different learners will achieve the outcomes in different ways, so outcome statements are an indicator of the minimum achievement expected from a qualification.

Each outcome statement includes the following:

  • Graduate profiles that identify the expected learning outcomes of a qualification. This is captured in notions of what a learner will know, understand and be able to do when they achieve the qualification
  • Education pathways that identify other qualifications that a graduate can enrol in after completing this qualification. Where qualifications are stand-alone and do not prepare graduates for further study, the outcome statement should make this clear
  • Employment pathways (or contribution to the community) that identify the areas in which a graduate may be qualified to work, or the contribution they may make to their community.

Credit value

All qualifications on the NZQF have a credit value. The credit value relates to the amount of learning in the qualification.

In determing the amount of learning in a qualification, a qualification developer estimates how long it would typically take a person to achieve the stated outcomes in the context specified and to demonstrate that achievement through assessment. This determines the credit value for a qualification. One credit is equal to ten notional hours of learning.

Notional learning hours include:

  • Direct contact time with teachers and trainers ("directed learning")
  • Time spent in studying and doing assignments and undertaking practical tasks ("self-directed" or "on-task" learning)
  • Time spent in assessment.

For government funding purposes, a full-time single year programme is equal to 120 credits. However, the credit system allows for a range of ways to structure programmes, which is not limited by the concept of a single-year programme measure.

Subject area classifications

All qualifications on the NZQF are assigned a six-digit code from the New Zealand Standard Classification of Education (NZSCED) classification system. The NZSCED classifies a qualification into a subject area, which can be used when searching for qualifications in an area of interest.

Information about the NZSCED classification system is available from the Ministry of Education website at www.minedu.govt.nz

Status

All qualifications listed on the NZQF must display and maintain clear information on the status using the following definitions:

  • Current: Qualifications that are current are those listed on the NZQF and can be offered by tertiary education organisations.
  • Expiring: Qualifications that are expiring are those either being replaced with a new qualification or the decision has been made for them to be closed. This will normally be as a result of a review. The qualification may continue to be available to existing students while they complete the programme of study or training path, but no new learners are able to enrol. A time limit will apply to the expiry period.
  • Discontinued: Qualifications designated as discontinued will no longer be available or awarded.
 
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