Quality Assurance in Higher Education in New Zealand

By | June 3, 2021

In New Zealand, quality assurance in higher education takes place in a number of ways. The quality assurance organizations and tools in higher education in New Zealand differ depending on whether they are universities or non-university tertiary institutions.

Quality assurance at the universities

Universities New Zealand is responsible for quality assurance at the universities , a body that consists of all rectors of New Zealand universities. Universities New Zealand has quality assurance in higher education in New Zealand carried out by two different organizations : the AQA and the CUAP .


The AQA ( Academic Quality Agency ) carries out audits every five years at all New Zealand universities . Similar to an accreditation, the university first carries out a self-study ( self-review ). In it she evaluates her progress in achieving the goals she has set herself. As a result, a committee of four to five auditors visits the university on site. She speaks to representatives of all interest groups and carries out an external evaluation of the progress in quality assurance.

The university then receives feedback from the auditors on their efforts and – if necessary – suggestions for further measures to improve quality assurance in higher education in New Zealand.

While an audit and an accreditation differ little in terms of the procedure, the goal of an audit is fundamentally different. It is not about certification or approval, and it is not just about meeting minimum standards. Instead, the focus is on constant quality improvement . It is important to accompany and advise the universities on their way in order to guarantee even better educational offers in the future. An audit is not so much a control instrument, but supports the further development of quality assurance in higher education in New Zealand .

Accreditation by CUAP

The CUAP ( Committee on University Academic Programs ) is responsible for the official recognition and accreditation of study programs at universities.

Twice a year, the organization deals with applications from universities for the accreditation of new courses and with applications for major changes to existing courses.

The universities themselves do not need accreditation in New Zealand, since start-ups only take place under state supervision and are subject to legal regulations. With just eight universities , New Zealand’s university landscape is still very manageable.

Quality assurance in non-university tertiary educational institutions: NZQA

The non-university universities include the Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) . This type of university corresponds roughly to the German university of applied sciences. There are also Wānangas (higher education institutions geared towards Māori culture) and numerous Private Training Establishments (PTEs) .

The NZQA ( New Zealand Qualifications Authority ) is responsible for quality assurance in higher education in New Zealand at all of these non-university educational institutions . Only the private providers need recognition as an institution. This is to ensure that they provide a solid and stable learning environment. Such recognition is not necessary for state non-university institutions. In any case, their approval is only granted subject to strict legal requirements.

The official recognition of courses at the NZQA takes place in two steps:

  • Confirmation of the quality of the course (Course Approval)
  • Course Accreditation

The accreditation certifies that the institution is able to successfully offer the already confirmed course.

The NZQA regularly carries out external evaluations at the institutions and then publishes the reports . In this way, it provides an independent assessment of training performance and self-assessment skills. This shows parallels to the audits that AQA carries out at universities. However, a bad result here can lead to the discontinuation of an entire course of study.

The New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF)

The New Zealand Qualifications Framework assigns all officially recognized New Zealand educational qualifications to one of ten levels. This applies to degrees from universities and technical colleges as well as degrees from vocational training courses. The NZQF also contains a list of all officially recognized educational qualifications including their assigned level.

This means that it is always clear what level of education a qualification is at and how the students can best pursue their planned educational path. In this way it is also possible to switch between educational institutions and the recognition of academic achievements is simplified.

Quality assurance in higher education in New Zealand for international students

To protect the interests of international students, New Zealand has a special form of quality assurance . For example, non-university educational institutions must be registered with the NZQA in order to be able to accept international students. This way you can be sure that you will only study in officially recognized courses in New Zealand.

This is not only important for the recognition of academic achievements in your home country. The New Zealand authorities only issue a visa if you intend to attend an officially recognized course.

Universities, on the other hand, do not need a separate registration in order to be allowed to accept international students. All you need to do is have signed the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students . The code obliges the educational institution to comply with minimum standards with regard to assistance, advice and provision of information to international students. The code also regulates complaints management.

Higher Education in New Zealand