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Classification and coding process

Classification criteria

Qualifications are classified by level and by subject.

Qualification level

The New Zealand Qualification Framework (NZQF) qualification level and level criteria can be found on the New Zealand Qualifications Authority's website.

Criteria for level
NZQA homepage

Qualification subject

Classification criteria used for New Zealand Standard Classification of Education – Field of Study (NZSCED), the subject classification, are available on the Ministry of Education's (MoE) website.

Descriptions of NZSCED categories all levels
MoE website address


Qualification level

NZREG is the classification used to record the level of the qualification. The classification is a flat classification with 12 categories – excluding residual categories.

Note: NZREG is a classification developed by the Tertiary Education Commission, NZQA, and MoE. Any proposals for change to NZREG by Statistics New Zealand would need to be made to these agencies.

Qualification subject

The New Zealand Standard Classification for Education – Field of Study is a hierarchical classifications of three levels. Excluding residual categories level 1 (broad fields) has 13 categories, level 2 (narrow fields) has 72 categories and level 3 (detailed fields) has 379 categories.

Note: Statistics New Zealand includes macrons for Māori spelling in this classification and these may not appear in other publications of this classification.

The residual categories for both classifications are defined in Glossary and references.

The full classifications are available in the 'Available files' section on the main page.

Coding Process


A codefile is a comprehensive list of probable survey responses and the classification categories to which they are coded. The qualification level codefile for NZREG contains qualifications such as 'journeyman' and 'Pitman's certificate'. The subject codefile for NZSCED contains subjects such as 'acting' and 'diving'.

Coding qualification level

Secondary school qualifications

A secondary school qualification completed after leaving school is classified as a secondary school qualification, not a post–school qualification. A secondary school qualification can be awarded for Levels 1 to 4 of the NZQF.

Post-school qualifications

A post–school qualification that does not meet the minimum three–month full–time study criteria will be included in the 'no qualification' category.

All levels of the NZQF apply to post–school qualifications.

Overseas post–school qualifications will be coded to equivalent levels of the NZQF.

Where a qualification can be awarded over more than one level of the NZQF the subject needs to be identified for appropriate coding of the level.

Post-school qualifications awarded before the introduction of the NQF will be coded to equivalent qualification levels. As names of qualifications may be very similar, care is needed when coding written responses. For example, not all diplomas are coded to levels five and six. A 'master' written response may mean shipping master, rather than Masters degree. (examples Appendix 1 level 4).

Insufficient detail may be given about the level of the qualification to allow the NZQF level to be ascertained. The subject of the qualification may help in indicating the appropriate level. A 'certificate' written response does not necessarily indicate unidentifiable, the subject requires checking as it may be able to be coded appropriately. For example, Banking Certificate is coded to level four. (see Appendix 1 for more examples).

Coding of common responses: see  Appendix 1 (in draft form awaiting confirmation from approval bodies)

Coding qualification subject

Qualification subjects with insufficient detail to code at the lowest level of NZSCED are coded to a 'not further defined' category. For example, an engineering response is not detailed enough to code in a specific engineering category and would be coded to Broad Field 03. At the lowest level, Detailed Fields it is called Engineering and Related Technologies not further defined.

Unless there is something to indicate otherwise the following subjects should be coded as described.


University qualifications in 'English' should go to field of study 091523 Literature rather than to English language.


Qualifications in 'Māori' should go to 091502 Te Reo Māori rather than Māori customs.


Qualifications in 'nursing' should go to 060301 Nursing rather than Nursing nfd.


Qualifications in 'retailing' should go to 080501 Sales.

Word processing, spreadsheets, database, etc

Qualifications in 'word processing', 'spreadsheets', 'database', etc should go to 080904 Text Processing and Office Tools.

Multiple response

When multiple responses are given to a question asking for highest completed secondary school or post-school qualification, then the highest of the qualifications should be recorded.

Derived variables

The variable 'highest qualification' is derived from the responses to the highest secondary school qualification and the highest post-school qualification.

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