Providers and partners

Guidelines for approval and accreditation of Level 1-6 programmes

These guidelines describe quality assurance processes for education organisations providing programmes leading to qualifications at levels 1-6 listed on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF).

A programme is a coherent arrangement of learning or training that is based on clearly linked aims, outcomes, content, and assessment practices leading to qualification(s) listed on the NZQF.

Specifically, the Guidelines for applying for approval of programmes leading to New Zealand qualifications at Levels 1-6 on the NZQF and the accreditation of organisations to provide approved programmes (PDF, 536KB) explain how education organisations (other than universities) apply for:

  • approval of programmes of study or industry training leading to qualifications at levels 1 – 6 listed on the NZQF
  • accreditation of education providers to provide a programme of study leading to a qualification listed on the NZQF.

New Zealand qualifications at Levels 1-6 are intended to be achieved through more than one programme offered by a range of education organisations. All programmes leading to a New Zealand qualification must demonstrate how they meet the requirements of the relevant qualification as it is listed on the NZQF.

The requirements for listing a qualification on the NZQF are found in the NZQF Qualification Listing and Operational Rules 2016.

These guidelines reflect that the role of industry training organisations is different from that of education providers. The functions of industry training organisations are specified in the Industry Training and Apprenticeships Act 1992 (section 1A (a)) and include to develop and maintain skill standards for, and administer the delivery of, industry training.

Rules and legislation for approval and accreditation

NZQA Rules are made under section 253 of the Education Act 1989 (The Act), which gives NZQA the authority to make rules for the quality assurance processes for which it is responsible.

Approval and accreditation is required under sections 249 and 250 of the Act.

The New Zealand Qualifications Framework

The New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) is designed to optimise the recognition of educational achievement and its contribution to New Zealand’s economic, social and cultural success.

The NZQF lists qualifications that:

  • convey the skills, knowledge and attributes a graduate has gained through completing a qualification
  • are integrated and coherent
  • enable and support the provision of high-quality education pathways
  • enhance confidence in the quality and international comparability of New Zealand qualifications
  • contribute to Māori success in education by recognising and advancing Mātauranga Māori
  • represent value for money, are sustainable and robust.

NZQA is responsible for protecting the integrity of New Zealand qualifications listed on the NZQF and therefore covers both the quality assurance of programmes and the education organisations that provide them.

Quality assurance

NZQA’s quality assurance integrates “front-end” quality assurance with the ongoing self-assessment activities an education organisation undertakes to assure itself of the quality of the graduate outcomes it provides for its learners and stakeholders.

Quality assurance activities include qualification approval, programme approval and accreditation for education organisations to provide programmes leading to qualifications. Quality assurance uses an evaluative approach to reach judgements on a transparent, robust and credible basis, underpinned by the following principles:

  • strategic and needs-based
  • focused on outcomes
  • quality as a dynamic concept – including ongoing improvement
  • flexibility
  • high-trust and accountability.

The responsibility for demonstrating how graduates will meet qualification requirements and outcomes through a programme of study or industry training rests with each education organisation through its self-assessment processes.

Te Hono o Te Kahurangi evaluative quality assurance

TEOs can choose to have a programme evaluated through the Te Hono o te Kahurangi framework. If a TEO chooses this, the application (s) will be evaluated by the Quality Assurance Māori team.

Te Hono o Te Kahurangi is the quality assurance approach used for qualifications and programmes leading to qualifications that are distinctively based on kaupapa Māori principles. This approach also includes programmes leading to qualifications specific to wānanga.

The following kaupapa underpin Māori programmes quality assured using Te Hono o Te Kahurangi:

  • Rangatiratanga
  • Manaakitanga
  • Whanaungatanga
  • Kaitiakitanga
  • Pūkengatanga
  • Te Reo Māori.

Each education organisation has the responsibility for demonstrating how graduates will meet qualification requirements and outcomes through a programme of study.

For more information see the Guidelines for Te Hono o Te Kahurangi evaluative quality assurance.

1. Using the evaluative approach

The decision to approve a programme of study or industry training, or to accredit an education organisation to deliver it, is based on the quality and sufficiency of evidence provided in an application. The application should meet criteria set out in parts 1 and 2 of the NZQF Programme Approval and Accreditation Rules 2018.

The evaluative methodology enables decisions about quality, value and importance to be reached on a consistent and reliable basis, and requires NZQA to:

  • be explicit about the information and evidence on which judgements are made as well as the logic of its interpretation, and
  • write the outcome in a clear, concise report which explains the key factors and reasons for the final decision.

1.1 Decision to approve a programme

The decision to approve a programme is made by ensuring the application meets the criteria and by answering the evaluation question:

How well does the programme design match the qualification outcomes and strategic purpose?

NZQA reviews the information and evidence provided in the self-assessment/Whare Whakairikōrero report and programme of study or industry training document to determine how its learners will match the graduate outcomes of the qualification.

Rubric one (below) sets out the expected levels of performance in relation to the evaluation question for the programme to reach the decision.

“Good evidence” is:

  • relevant to answering the evaluation question
  • obtained from more than one source (i.e. is corroborated or triangulated)
  • of more than one type (e.g. quantitative and qualitative data)
  • making sense in the context of the question.

Rubric one: Criteria for rating answers to the evaluation question to approve a programme of study or industry training

 

Criteria

Programme approved

ALL of the following:

  • Good evidence the programme matches the strategic purpose and requirements of the qualification.
  • Good evidence that the programme enables learners to achieve the qualification outcomes.
  • Good evidence the programme is made up of learning outcomes structured in a coherent way to achieve the qualification outcomes and addresses the relevant needs of learners.
  • Good evidence the programme is acceptable to the relevant communities and key stakeholders.
  • No significant gaps or weaknesses in the programme.

Programme not approved

ANY of the following:

  • The nature, quality and integrity of the information and evidence does not convincingly demonstrate that the programme matches the strategic purpose and/or requirements of the qualification.
  • Insufficient evidence that the programme will enable graduates to meet the qualification outcomes.
  • Insufficient evidence the programme is structured in a coherent way to achieve the qualification outcomes and address the relevant needs of learners.
  • Insufficient evidence the programme is acceptable to the relevant communities and key stakeholders.
  • Significant gaps or weaknesses in the programme.

1.2 Decision to accredit an education provider

A decision to accredit an education organisation is reached by ensuring that the application meets the criteria and by answering the evaluation question:

To what extent does the education provider have the ongoing capability and resources to support sustained delivery of the approved programme?

NZQA reviews information and evidence provided in the self-assessment report using rubric two. Rubric two (below) sets out the expected levels of performance in relation to the evaluation question to decide whether to accredit the education organisation.

Rubric two: Criteria for rating the answers to the evaluation question to accredit an education provider to provide an approved programme of study

 

Criteria

Education organisation accredited

ALL of the following:

  • Good evidence the education organisation has the capability and resources to provide the programme.
  • Good evidence that the education organisation can manage the impacts of any specific programme requirements.
  • Good evidence of formal arrangements with the programme owner where this is required.
  • No significant gaps or weaknesses in the self-assessment report, and/or the underlying capability and resources of the organisation.

Education organisation not accredited

ANY of the following:

  • Insufficient evidence the education organisation has the capability and resources to provide the programme.
  • Insufficient evidence that the education organisation can manage the impacts of any specific programme requirements.
  • Formal arrangements with the programme owner where these are required are insufficient to manage the provision of the programme.
  • Significant gaps or weaknesses in the self-assessment report, and/or the underlying capability and resources of the organisation.

2. Approving a programme of study or industry training

NZQA will accept applications for approval of a programme of study or industry training from NZQA-recognised education organisations.

Education organisations must ensure that programmes of study or industry training are sufficiently flexible to address a range of needs. NZQA requires evidence that relevant stakeholders have been meaningfully involved in the specification of skill needs and, where appropriate, involved in the design of the programme.

Approved programmes of study may only be provided by education providers accredited to do so by NZQA.

Approval for programmes of industry training will only be given to Industry Training Organisations.

Applications for programme approval must be made online through the secure TEO login.

2.1 Applications for programme approval

Two sets of information are required in an application for programme approval:

  • a self-assessment report that answers relevant evaluation questions (not required in some cases for category 1 tertiary education organisations)
  • a programme document.

Applications from category 1 education organisations

Category 1 education providers that can demonstrate a successful history of provision in the subject area at the same qualification level need only supply evidence of internal programme approval along with full programme details that meet NZQA criteria and data requirements.

For programme delivery in a new area, or at a level above current programme approvals and accreditations held in the area, the application requires full programme details to be submitted to meet NZQA criteria requirements, as well as a self-assessment report.

This does not apply to collaboratively developed programmes.

Self-assessment report

This report illustrates how the education organisation is confident that sufficient information has been included and provides evidence to answer the evaluation question:

How well the programme design matches the qualification outcomes and strategic purpose.

Self-assessment is used by the education organisation to understand that its programme application meets all requirements and answers the evaluation question. NZQA uses the report as evidence that explains why the education organisation considers the programme meets requirements based on its own comprehensive, authentic, robust and transparent self- assessment processes.

Evidence of programme approval within the education organisation (for example, through the Academic Board, Board of Trustees or similar facility) is required. Where the programme is jointly owned, the lead education organisation will submit the report via its internal academic approval processes.

Programme document

The programme document must demonstrate how the programme is acceptable to relevant communities and key stakeholders (including the qualification developer(s)) and:

  • meets the strategic purpose, qualification type definition, including all listed qualification requirements and length
  • has been designed to match the identified needs of target learner groups and enables them to achieve the qualification outcomes
  • includes learning outcomes that map to the qualification(s) graduate profile (e.g. using an explanatory matrix)
  • the programme is made up of components structured in a coherent way to achieve the qualification outcomes
  • completes the specified data required in the on-line application template.

Components

Components are units of learning that make up a programme. They include projects, papers, courses, modules, practicals and outcomes of assessment standards.

The programme document should include a brief description of each component:

  • an overview of the content of the component
  • learning outcomes or outcomes of assessment standards
  • level
  • credits
  • approach to assessment of each outcome which is valid for the learner group and the learning context (not the assessment activity).

Where assessment standards listed on the Directory of Assessment Standards are included in the programme, they need to be clearly identified.

Where a new assessment standard(s) has been identified for inclusion in the programme, the approval of the programme is dependent on the approval of the assessment standard(s).

Qualification definition

The qualification type definition details can be found in the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (PDF, 606KB) booklet.

Target learner group

The target learner group must be identified, including a description of how the programme has been developed to match the needs of the target learner group, industry, key stakeholders and relevant communities.

Credit Recognition Transfer (CRT) and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Where CRT and RPL are part of the programme regulations useful information may be found on the NZQA website.

Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes describe the specific knowledge, skills, understanding and application a learner will achieve through each component of the programme.

Learning outcomes must be:

  • consistent with and demonstrate how learners achieve programme aims and the qualification outcome statement
  • measurable and achievable, and integrated to provide a balanced and logical programme of learning
  • presented in a logical, progressive way that demonstrates learners’ development of knowledge, skills, understanding and application.

Programmes of industry training develop learning outcomes on-the-job as part of the learner journey.

Meeting the qualification outcomes – coherent programme structure

The programme is structured to achieve qualification outcomes and any strands. It clearly shows how components are designed to form a coherent programme which demonstrates:

  • progression and integration of learning and assessment throughout the programme to meet the strategic purpose statement, outcome statement, level and credit value of the qualification
  • that programme length and components are clearly defined and appropriate for the level of learning and the qualification outcomes
  • modes of delivery are appropriate to the learning outcomes
  • required workplace and education provider-based learning (where relevant) are identified (refer to definition of learning activities on page 15)
  • requirements and regulations detailing how a learner is eligible to enter into and progress through a programme and is awarded the qualification (including the award of any strands, contexts or qualifiers).

Assuring consistency of graduate outcomes

The education organisation should show how it will meet the evidence requirements for assuring national consistency of graduate outcomes.

Assessment

Assessment methods should be appropriate for the programme, modes of delivery, the level of learning and the qualification outcome.

Programme ownership involving a collaborative or commercial relationship

Education organisations may seek approval for a programme developed collaboratively, for example as part of a consortium. Individual education organisations seeking accreditation for this programme may make type 1 changes to meet the needs of their learners.

If the programme is jointly owned, then the application for approval needs to include the formal arrangements made between the parties.

A lead organisation needs to be identified in the application.

3. Accreditation to provide an approved programme

NZQA will accept applications for accreditation to provide an approved programme from NZQA-recognised education organisations.

The following types of education organisations can be accredited to provide programmes of study:

  • private training establishments
  • institutes of technology and polytechnics
  • government training establishments
  • wānanga
  • schools.

Industry training organisations are not granted accreditation, but need to maintain consent to assess for the assessment standards included in the programme they will assess. For more information refer to Consent to assess against standards on the Directory of Assessment Standards Rules 2011.

Where the programme of industry training includes components other than assessment standards, the education organisations that will provide those components need to be accredited to deliver them.

Applications for programme approval and accreditation can be made concurrently. Programmes of study approved by NZQA may only be provided by education organisations accredited to do so by NZQA.

Applications for accreditation must be made online through the secure TEO login.

3.1 Applications for accreditation

Applications from category 1 tertiary education providers

Category 1 tertiary education providers that can demonstrate a successful history of provision in a subject area at the same level need only supply a statement from the Chief Executive confirming the organisation’s ongoing capability and resources to effectively and sustainably provide the programme.

If an education provider wishes to offer programmes at a level above current approvals and accreditations held in the same area, or wishes to deliver in a new area, then a full application for accreditation is required (as for category 2 below).

Applications from category 2 and 3 tertiary education providers, schools and category 4 tertiary education providers (where permitted)

Category 2, 3 and 4 tertiary education providers and schools should present evidence for the following criteria.

A self-assessment report that describes:

  • capability and resources required to effectively and sustainably provide the programme (human, physical, and teaching and learning).
  • overall structure of a programme as it will be delivered, including the assessment schedule and any specific programme requirements (e.g. practical and workplace requirements).
  • where relevant, evidence of the formal arrangements to provide the programme agreed with the programme owner (where this is not the applicant).

Capability and resources

Applications must include a statement which demonstrates that physical, teaching and learning resources are appropriate, comprehensive and sufficient for the level of the programme and appropriate to the methods of delivery. This includes the experience of the teaching staff, teaching and learning facilities, and learner support services.

Where relevant, the arrangements for workplace training need to meet the needs of the programme and enable the learner to achieve the qualification outcomes.

Relevant information on temporary and permanent delivery sites can be found on the NZQA website.

Structure of the programme

Teaching and learning approach

The report must provide a brief description of the teaching and learning approaches used to meet learning outcomes. Learning hours encompass all planned learning activities leading toward the achievement of programme or qualification learning outcomes.

Where a programme is to be delivered to international students, education organisations must include the number of days that the required hours of face-to-face learning are to be delivered, with an educational rationale for this delivery.

Practical and work-place requirements

The report must provide a description of how the education organisation intends to meet any practical and workplace requirements.

This should include support provided to learners by the education organisation and employer during a work placement, and evidence of formal arrangements made with employers and other organisations to meet these requirements.

Assessment

Assessment schedules need to be appropriate for the programme.

The internal and external moderation processes should be appropriate to the programme and its delivery.

Other programme-specific requirements

The report should include specific requirements that relate to how the applicant will provide the programme (e.g. entry criteria, management of a particular strand or strands).

Compressed delivery

The primary purpose for international students to be in New Zealand is to study. As such, programmes need to be delivered in a way that provides students with the best chance of educational success.

NZQA expects that TEOs with international students will structure their programmes to maximise educational value and not in a way that minimises the number of days students are required to attend.

NZQA strongly discourages highly compressed delivery formats for international students and considers compressed delivery as a risk factor.

TEOs will be expected to state the number of days that the international student will be on campus and to give a strong educational rationale for anything less than four days.

Formal arrangements

Where the applicant is not the sole programme owner, or is seeking accreditation for a programme owned by another party, evidence of formal arrangements must be included in the application.

These arrangements cover:

  • programme changes and reviews
  • dispute resolution
  • moderation of outcomes
  • managing complaints about quality of delivery.

4. Making changes to programmes

Changes to a programme may be a result of ongoing quality management and improvement, or changes in the industry or sector.

Type 1 change

Definition

  • Minor changes to programme components.
  • Do not have an impact on the total numbers of learning hours, credit values, or learning outcomes of the overall programme.
  • Do not have an impact on NZQA data requirements (as defined in Rule 3.1).

Examples of change

  • Content of a programme but not the learning outcomes.
  • Title of a component.
  • Pre or co-requisite that does not affect programme entry requirements.

Process

NZQA will acknowledge the notification of a type 1 change and will make contact with the TEO if the proposed changes are considered to be Type 2 changes.

Type 2 change

Definition

Type 2 changes relate to major changes to components that have an impact on the programme as a whole, and include change that will alter the programme approval and accreditation data held by NZQA.

A type 2 change must be approved prior to implementation.

Examples of change

  • Changes to programme aims, graduate profile outcomes and learning outcomes.
  • Requirements for practical, workplace and education provider learning.
  • Structure of the programme.
  • Regulations, including entry requirements.
  • Delivery methods (e.g. a move from face-to-face learning to online learning).
  • Changes that have an impact on NZQA data requirements (as defined on Rule 3.1)

Process

NZQA will advise applicant if any of the details in the application for a Type 2 change require further work.

NZQA may carry out a site visit.

Where NZQA is satisfied with the details in the application, NZQA will approve the application and advise the applicant.

If there are a significant number of changes made to the programme NZQA may decline the application and require a new programme approval application to be submitted (Rule 15.5).

Where NZQA is not satisfied with the details in the application, NZQA will decline the application, and will advise the applicant.

The Tertiary Education Commission is copied into the Type 2 change outcome letter.

5. Agreements between organisations

5.1 Sub-contracting

Sub-contracting arrangements, as described in this section, do not apply to industry training organisations.

An education organisation can arrange for another education organisation to provide approved programmes or part of approved programmes on their behalf.

There are different requirements when an education organisation engages a sub-contractor. These requirements depend on whether the sub-contractor involved has accreditation to provide the approved programme (see the NZQF Programme Approval and Accreditation Rules 2018).

Both the applicant and the sub-contractor have accreditation:

Prior to the programme being provided, the education organisation should notify NZQA of the arrangement.

The applicant has accreditation, but the sub-contractor does not:

Before the sub-contractor provides the programme (or any part of it), the education organisation must apply to NZQA for approval to engage the sub-contractor and provide the following information:

  • the name of the sub-contractor
  • identification of the programme(s) (or part(s)) to be provided under the arrangement
  • the reason for the proposed sub-contracting arrangement
  • a copy of the sub-contracting arrangement between the education organisation and the sub-contractor
  • evidence of internal quality assurance approval by the education organisation, through an Academic Board or similar facility.

The sub-contracting arrangement must specify:

  • the names of the parties to the arrangement
  • the term of the arrangement
  • procedures for resolving any differences which might arise between the parties to the arrangement
  • compliance with the arrangement and NZQA rules
  • the ongoing monitoring of the arrangement and delivery
  • assessment and moderation arrangements
  • provision of resources, both physical and human
  • maintaining and reporting student academic records
  • clear process for the review of the arrangement and for the termination of the arrangement, and
  • procedures for the protection of learners if the arrangement is terminated.

Criteria for approving sub-contracting arrangements

NZQA will grant approval to an application where it is satisfied that it meets the requirements of the relevant Rules in all sub-contracting arrangements:

  • The education organisation remains responsible for the sub-contractor meeting all of the obligations that are relevant for the accreditation, including all relevant obligations in the Education Act 1989 and rules made under section 253 of the Act.
  • There is a formal documented arrangement between the education organisation and the sub-contractor that includes provisions to ensure that NZQA is able to exercise its quality assurance and enforcement powers and functions relating to the sub-contractor’s provision of the programme.
  • All information and advertising provided for the programme of study or training programme must clearly state that it is provided through a sub-contracting arrangement.
  • All student enrolments are through the education organisation. The education organisation must also maintain academic information.

5.2 Collaborative or commercial relationships

A written formal agreement should be established that clearly and accurately records how the education organisations will work together to develop and/or maintain the programme. The agreement must be signed by the legally recognised signatories of all parties.

Partner education organisations need to identify who is responsible for all relevant aspects of the programme and its management. This includes maintaining the quality of the programme.

The agreement must specify:

  • the names of the parties to the agreement
  • responsibility for the quality of the programme and the management of quality systems
  • procedures for resolving any differences which might arise between the parties to the agreement
  • responsibility for seeking programme approval
  • procedures and responsibilities for managing the programme and its ongoing monitoring, and implementing changes to the programme
  • assessment and moderation arrangements
  • responsibility for communication of all necessary reports and other information to NZQA
  • responsibility for all administrative arrangements such as decisions relating to progress through the programme, assessment, appeals, and remuneration of monitors and moderators (if applicable)
  • a clear process for reviewing and terminating the agreement.
 
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