Changes to unit standards

New unit standards are first listed on the Directory of Assessment and Skills Standards with a planned review date of approximately five years.

Coming changes affecting unit standards

NZQA has made changes to our rules to reflect amendments to the Act which came into effect on 1 August 2022.

Over time, skill standards will replace unit standards as Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) and NZQA review existing qualifications and develop new ones.

WDCs and NZQA will develop guidelines for the development and approval of skill standards, including a consistent approach to writing learning outcomes.

In the meantime, NZQA will still accept applications for the roll-over, revision and review of unit standards.

Once a unit standard is listed, the following processes may apply.

Roll-over of a unit standard

When a standard reaches its planned review date and there is insufficient information to inform a review, it may be rolled over for a period of time, consistent with the SSB's review schedule.

Before rollover, the standard is checked to ensure that all references, including legislation and prerequisites, are current. If standards require amendments before a full review, as well as an extension of their period of registration, the process is called ‘revision and rollover’.

A rolled-over standard, or a standard that has been revised and rolled-over is issued as a new version, and its planned review date is changed. The content and the unit standard ID remain the same.

Revision of a unit standard

A standard may be revised to take account of new factors or omissions; changes to legislation; updating references to other unit standards; or assessment issues. Depending on the changes, consultation with stakeholders may be required.

A revised standard is issued as a new version. The unit standard ID and planned review date remain the same.

Review of a unit standard

When a unit standard reaches its planned review date, a decision is made by the SSB as to whether it should undergo a full review. A review involves full industry and stakeholder consultation. Any person or organisation may contribute to the review by sending feedback to the SSB.

The review considers whether the standard:

  • meets current quality assurance criteria
  • is fit for purpose for another five years
  • takes into account any updated requirements in the industry, professional or academic area to which it relates
  • has any shortcomings, identified through assessment and moderation.

Review categories

In the review process, unit standards are placed in one of three categories.

Minimal/No change

No change was made to the content or classification of the unit standard, or

Some changes were made , but the outcomes and required evidence are substantially unchanged, and the SSB is confident that people credited with the new or old version are comparable in terms of competence.

The unit standard is published as a new version and displays new status, published and planned review dates. 

Significant changes

Significant changes were made to the unit standard that materially changed the outcomes being recognised. The SSB views people with credit for the new and old version as being different in terms of competence.

A new ID number is assigned to the replacement unit standard. The replacement unit standard includes a reference to the title and ID of the replaced unit standard under 'Replacement information'.

Expire and not be replaced

The unit standard will expire and will not be replaced. The expiry date of unit standards must be specified in the review summary report. Normally, the expiry date is two years from the date the review is completed.

Expired and replaced unit standards

If a unit standard is designated as ‘expiring’ as a result of a review, the documents are available on this website until the date of expiry stated in the review summary. The unit standard can be assessed against until the date of expiry.

The date of expiry in the review summary report is normally a minimum of two years from the date the review was completed.

To find out if an expiring unit standard has been replaced by a new unit standard, search the Directory of Assessment Standards using the Unit replacements by ID option.

When a unit standard has been reviewed and superseded by a new version, or replaced by a new unit standard, how long can providers keep using the old version or replaced unit standard?

Unit standards that have been designated as expiring and replaced with a new unit standard with a new ID or, designated as expiring and not replaced are no longer available for new training programmes but may continue to be used by providers in existing programmes until their status changes to 'expired'. The date that expiring and replaced unit standards expire is stated in the Review Report, available on the NZQA website. The proposed expiry date for reviewed unit standards must allow sufficient time for:

  • qualification developers and organisations with consent to assess to update qualifications and programmes and develop new or revised assessment materials
  • candidates to complete current programmes or transition to new ones.

The date takes into account the extent of uptake, the nature of provision, and any safety or legislative issues.

Unit standards that have been superseded by a new version retain the same ID and may continue to be used for a transition period determined by the SSB. The SSB for the unit standards is responsible for ensuring that training relates to current versions of unit standards, assessment guides, resources, and New Zealand qualificationsIf a provider does not meet moderation requirements the SSB can report non-compliance to NZQA and recommend the removal of consent to assess against standards (also called accreditation).

Can a person who has a superseded version of a unit standard be awarded a qualification that has a new version specified in it?

Reviewed unit standards that continue to recognise the same overall outcome retain their identification number (ID). Holders of any version of a unit standard with the same ID may use that standard to meet programme and qualification requirements where that ID is listed.

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