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Quality assurance of education in New Zealand
The primary responsibility for the quality of education delivered rests with the organisation that provides those services. However, quality assurance processes are in place to ensure government and individuals are investing time and money in quality education and training.
Quality assurance focuses on the quality of learning outcomes recognised through qualifications as a whole. It also examines the systems and processes that support delivery of quality by providers.
The New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) is a comprehensive list of all quality assured qualifications in New Zealand. This includes NCEA (National Certificates of Educational Achievement) which are the national qualifications for senior secondary school students.
Quality assurance bodies are responsible for approving qualifications in New Zealand and for the quality that underpins the delivery of those qualifications. The bodies are:
- the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), which approves all qualifications outside of universities. This includes national qualifications delivered by schools, institutes of technology and polytechnics, private training establishments, wānanga and government training establishments, as well as all degrees outside universities
- the Committee on University Academic Programmes (CUAP) of the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors' Committee (branded as Universities New Zealand) which approves all university qualifications.
Only those tertiary qualifications and providers that are quality assured by a quality assurance body (QAB) can receive government financial assistance. QABs decide if providers and qualification developers meet the required standards.
Quality Assurance Framework
NZQA has developed an Evaluative Approach to Quality Assurance - Policy Framework (PDF, 61KB). This document outlines the policy requirements for the quality assurance framework applying to private training establishments, institutes of technology and polytechnics, wānanga, government training establishments and industry training organisations. The policies reflect government policy and have been approved by the Board of NZQA.
NZQA’s Statement of Intent 2011-2014 committed NZQA to 'an independent evaluation of NZQA’s quality assurance framework for the tertiary education sector (non-university), which includes TEO [tertiary education organisation] self-assessment and independent external evaluation and review to determine the effectiveness of the new framework for improving educational outcomes for learners'.
NZQA appointed a panel to conduct the independent evaluation. The members were Dr Ranginui Walker (University of Auckland), Dr Neil Barns (former chief executive of Nelson-Marlborough Institute of Technology and Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology), Dr Jennifer Green (University of Minnesota) and Dr Ross Finnie (University of Ottawa).
Terms of reference were developed for the independent evaluation (Appendix One of the report). As part of the terms of reference for the evaluation, NZQA provided the panel with seven key evaluation questions to guide and assist the panel’s work (page 7). These questions helped to create the scope and nature of the review, and shaped the discussions and report structure.
NZQA also invited submissions from the tertiary education sector, and these submissions were provided to the panel for its consideration (Appendix Two).
The panel conducted a site visit at NZQA’s offices during the week of 13-17 August 2012 to hold discussions with appropriate NZQA senior managers and staff. Meetings were also held with senior managers from the Ministry of Education and the Tertiary Education Commission, and representatives of tertiary education sector organisations (Appendix Four).
The panel’s report from the independent evaluation has been received. NZQA will now consider the report and its recommendations and use it to develop a plan to further enhance the quality assurance framework. NZQA is keen to build on the panel’s strong endorsement of the framework and its potential.
Quality assurance processes
Education providers, qualifications and courses are quality assured in the following ways.
Registration of private training establishments
Registration ensures that a private training establishment (PTE) is able to provide a sound and stable learning environment. NZQA is responsible for the registration of PTEs.
Schools, institutes of technology and polytechnics, universities and wānanga do not need to be registered, as they are set up by the Government under legislation.
Course approval and accreditation
Course approval confirms that a course is based on clear and consistent aims, content, outcomes and assessment practices, which meet the necessary criteria and requirements.
Course accreditation confirms that a provider is deemed capable of delivering an approved course. A provider may seek accreditation to deliver their own or another organisation's approved course.
All quality assurance bodies in New Zealand use the same criteria for course approval and accreditation. See New Zealand Gazette.
Moderation normally involves selection of a sample of assessment materials and learner evidence, to ensure that assessments are fair and valid and assessors are making consistent judgements about student or candidate performance.
External evaluation and review
External evaluation and review is a periodic evaluation of a tertiary education organisation, to provide an independent judgement of their educational performance and capability in self-assessment.