Targeted review of qualifications

Updated December 2017

The Targeted Review of Qualification (TRoQ) 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.

Results of the TRoQ review

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.

Changes create a simpler system with fewer qualifications

Overall, the changes streamlined and simplified 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 has prevented the duplication and proliferation of qualifications.

On 1 July 2010, there were 4,610 qualifications (levels 1–6) and it is estimated that this number will be reduced to 1200 as a result of TRoQ. The reviewed qualifications have been replaced by new qualifications and are being progressively discontinued. They will not be displayed on the NZQF.

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, 606KB). The document contains the new NZQF level descriptors and qualifications type definitions. The original version of this document is also available.
March 2011 The first review is triggered (review of baking qualifications).
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.
December 2010 NZQA announces publication of Guidelines for approval of qualifications at levels 1-6 for listing on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.
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 (original version; version 2 published April 2011). The new requirements reflect sector feedback (PDF, 100KB).
November- December 2010 NZQA seeks comment on proposals for mandatory reviews of tertiary qualifications to reduce the duplication and proliferation of qualifications.
September 2010 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 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 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)


Further information

For further information or working papers, please contact NZQA by email at

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