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A qualification is:

a formally recognised award for educational or training attainment, where formal recognition means that the qualification is approved by one of the following (or their predecessors):

  • New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA)
  • Universities New Zealand - Te Pokai Tara
  • Association of Polytechnics of New Zealand
  • Association of Colleges of Education in New Zealand
  • approval bodies that have been recognised by NZQA since the release of this standard
  • the recognised overseas authority of a secondary school, profession, academic discipline or trade.

In general, a qualification is defined as requiring full-time equivalent study of three months or greater. Study time is an estimate of the typical time it takes a learner to achieve the learning outcomes of the qualification. This includes direct contact time with teachers and trainers, as well as time spent in studying, assignments and assessment.

Qualification level

A secondary school and post–school qualification must be assigned to one of the 10 levels of the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF). Secondary school and post–school qualifications can be gained at the same level, for the first four levels, of the NZQF. Levels of qualifications are assigned in two ways:

  • the highest number of credits that are at or above the particular level at which the qualification is awarded
  • for qualifications awarded before the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) was introduced the qualification will be assigned to the equivalent level

Qualification subject

The subject is the main topic or field of study of a qualification. This means that subjects of all courses studied within a qualification are not captured.

'Subject' applies to a post–school qualification, not to a secondary school qualification.

Operational Issues

A qualification that does not meet the minimum three–month full–time study criteria is not included as a qualification for statistical purposes.

Questions for secondary school qualification and post–school qualification must be asked to derive highest qualification.

Qualifications gained overseas or via the Internet

Qualifications gained overseas, or via the Internet, are included if:

  • they are awarded by a recognised authority, and
  • the post–school qualifications meet the minimum three–month full–time study criteria.

Explanatory notes

Explanatory note 1

The definitions used for a qualification in this Standard differ in wording but not intent from the NZQF and The New Zealand Standard Classification of Education (NZSCED) definitions. A requirement of the Standard is to meet statistical reporting requirements which include both the NZQF qualifications and those qualifications awarded before the NZQF was established.

Explanatory note 2

Where qualifications have been granted on the basis of recognition of prior learning, the study time is the amount of time it would have taken a learner to achieve the same level of knowledge through formal study. On–the–job training is counted as study time towards some qualifications, for example, apprenticeships.

Explanatory note 3

Secondary school qualifications can no longer be assumed to be gained at a lower level than post–school qualifications. Levels 1 to 4 of the NZQF are used to classify both secondary school and post–school qualifications.

Explanatory note 4

The highest qualification output is derived from school and post–school qualifications. As the levels for school qualifications overlap with post–school qualifications, there will be no separation of secondary school and post–school qualifications in highest qualification output. However, separate input questions will continue to be used.

Explanatory note 5

There is the possibility of output for post–school qualifications Levels 1 to 3 as three separate categories instead of the one former 'basic vocational qualification' category.

Explanatory note 6

Primary school qualifications are not included as a qualification for secondary school or for highest qualification.

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