Annual Report 2014/15

Impact 2: Higher-quality tertiary education in New Zealand

NZQA operates an integrated quality assurance system in which all the components support each other. The quality assurance system includes registration of PTEs; approval of qualifications, degrees and related qualifications, other programmes; and training schemes. It also includes assessment of the consistency of graduate outcomes; moderation of assessment standards; monitoring of degree programmes; conducting external evaluation and review, and risk management.

The basis of the quality assurance system is the Evaluative Quality Assurance Framework, which uses an evaluative approach and:

  • covers the quality assurance of the non-university tertiary education sector
  • uses evaluation theory and practice to reach well-informed, consistent and reliable evidence-based judgements about all aspects of provider performance and capability
  • has a practical focus on outcomes and key contributing processes
  • builds awareness and improvement through tertiary education organisations’ (TEO) self-assessment.

Enhancements to the quality assurance system

The quality assurance system continues to progress. NZQA is strengthening its management of risk to quality and has commenced analysis or mining of administrative data. This involves, amongst other information and intelligence, the use of data held by NZQA, TEC and the Ministry of Education. The aim is to alert NZQA to a possible risk within a specific TEO and includes a focus at programme level. A key factor with this enhanced approach will be that several risk factors, which in themselves may not necessarily trigger an investigation, may together alert NZQA to a risk situation. NZQA and TEC are working more closely as both agencies align their respective risk criteria and data analysis tools based on available data.

We have strengthened our approval and accreditation processes

NZQA is continuing to develop its quality assurance practices to improve educational quality and performance. In 2015, there has been a focus on further embedding evaluative quality assurance into TEO entry processes, in particular, qualification listing, programme approval and accreditation, approval of standards and consent to assess. This includes further embedding of mātauranga Māori evaluative quality assurance into all our processes.

We have done this to provide greater clarity about NZQA’s expectations on quality of programmes and training schemes, and types of evidence required to support applications. In the new programme approval and accreditation guidelines, NZQA has described key attributes of a quality programme, and has linked these attributes through to specific evidence requirements. We are also refining evaluative questions to focus analysis and better link approvals to other parts of the quality assurance framework. This has all been packaged up into refreshed guidance documents for providers.

These revised guidelines means we will deliver differently, simplify our processes and position NZQA for the future.

We are currently revising the guidelines for Level 7 Diplomas. The monitoring guidelines for degree and related programmes have been reviewed and published.

Our evaluative framework is ‘fit for purpose’

The evaluative approach used by NZQA was independently reviewed as part of a wider review commissioned by NZQA and the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) undertaken by Deloitte over the reporting period14. The report was commissioned following a series of focused reviews into a small number of tertiary education organisations where issues were identified concerning programme quality and financial accountability. The quality assurance framework was found to be ‘fit for purpose’ and that the “broad approach to monitoring TEOs has the principal elements expected of a comprehensive framework”. All recommendations of the independent review will be completed by the end of 2015. 


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14: The review report from Deloitte, the Review of Tertiary Education Organisation monitoring framework, is available on the NZQA website at

15: NZQA monitors the cohort of TEOs (42 TEOs) that were in
Category 3 or Category 4, as at 30 June 2012. NZQA expects
that the TEOs in this cohort will either improve their outcome
at the next EER as a result of lifting their performance or exit
the system.

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