Accreditation and Quality Assurance in New Zealand
The process of quality assurance is to ensure the quality of learning by examining the systems and processes employed for the delivery of quality by providers. New Zealand has in place quality assurance systems that guarantee consistent, high quality education across all levels of education. It also has a university quality assurance system that makes sure that the high standard of teaching and research is maintained across all its eight universities. The various quality assurance processes at different levels of education in the country are as follows:
Quality Assurance of Early Childhood Education (ECE) Centres and Schools
The Education Review Office (ERO)
The ERO is the body that is responsible for conducting external reviews of ECE centres, primary and secondary schools. It is an independent government department that reports directly to its own minister. Though schools and ECE centres are generally reviewed once in three years, schools or centres where the performance is poor or there are possible risks to the education and safety of the students are reviewed more often. ERO reviews the schools and their boards of trustees before publishing its reports. Though it is actually the responsibility of the organisation providing education to maintain the quality, the government of New Zealand has put in place these quality assurance processes to ensure the standard of education and training imparted to its people.
The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA)
The NZQA is the body responsible for maintaining the standard of all national qualifications on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and operating national senior secondary school examinations. It is also responsible for the quality assurance of education provided by private providers of tertiary education and for approving courses which have been designed entirely for international students in schools.
Quality Assurance of Tertiary Education
To assure the quality of the tertiary education sector, a Quality Assurance Body (QAB) is in place and government grants financial assistance only to those providers of tertiary education that are approved by this body. NZQA is the appointed authority for approval of Government Training Establishments (GTEs). It is also responsible for accrediting and auditing educational institutions and other registered learning institutes that offer approved programmes. Additionally, NZQA accredits Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) for listing workplace auditors.
The Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics Quality (ITPQ) is the authority that approves and accredits ITP courses up to bachelor’s degree level in New Zealand, a responsibility that has been delegated to it by the NZQA.
The authority responsible for quality assurance of qualifications provided at university level is the New Zealand Vice Chancellors’ Committee (NZVCC), which works through its Committee on University Academic Programmes (CUAP) and the independent New Zealand Universities Academic Audit Unit (NZUAAU).
All quality assured qualifications available in the country are listed in the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF), which includes the NCEA (National Certificates of Educational Achievement) - the national qualifications for senior secondary school students.
Quality Assurance of Teaching
New Zealand has rigorous and well-built quality assurance systems, controlled by various key government agencies, which ensure reliable and high quality education across all stages of the education system.
Early Childhood Schools
Early childhood schools are reassessed, usually, once every three years. Assessments are undertaken more often where the performance of a school calls for improvement and there are risks to the education and protection of the students. Reviews include a range of aspects such as the quality of management and education. These assessment reports are freely available to the public.
Quality Assurance in the tertiary sector concentrates more on the quality of learning outcomes acknowledged through qualifications as a whole. It also scrutinizes the systems and processes that support quality. Only those tertiary providers that are quality assured can obtain government financial aid.
Care for International Students
New Zealand has a national Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code). The Code recommends education providers to provide international students accommodation while studying in New Zealand. All education providers which enrol international students must be signatories to the Code, and their compliance is strictly supervised by the Government.
New Zealand also takes into account the quality of teaching that is imparted to the students, a crucial component of the education system that can make or break the standard of education. And for that it has established the New Zealand Teachers Council (NZTC) - the body that maintains the professional standards of teachers in the country.
NZTC’s functions include registration of teachers, renewal of their practice certificates, defining standards as also approval of teacher education programmes that lead to registration. It is also the body that has the authority to investigate complaints and take actions. It is mandatory that every school teacher be registered with the NZTC. It considers a teacher’s experience, character, qualifications and police record. However, it is not mandatory for teachers in the tertiary education sector to have compulsory registration.