The New Zealand Qualifications Authority has introduced a micro-credential system as part of New Zealand’s regulated education and training system.

This page:

  • outlines NZQA’s expectations for tertiary education organisations (TEOs) submitting micro-credentials for approval
  • provides information for employers, industry, community/iwi on how they may work with TEOs to develop micro-credentials that meet their needs.

NZQA will consider applications from New Zealand TEOs from 22 August 2018.

What is a micro-credential?

A micro-credential certifies achievement of a coherent set of skills and knowledge; and is specified by a statement of purpose, learning outcomes, and strong evidence of need by industry, employers, iwi and/or the community.

They are smaller than a qualification and focus on skill development opportunities not currently catered for in the regulated tertiary education system.

At a minimum, micro-credentials will be subject to the same requirements as training schemes or assessment standards and will also be required to:

  • be 5–40 credits in size
  • have strong evidence of need from employers, industry and/or community
  • not duplicate current quality assured learning approved by NZQA
  • be reviewed annually to confirm they continue to meet their intended purpose.

Transitioning from Training Schemes to Micro-credentials

Legislation is being changed to replace training schemes with micro-credentials, as part of NZQA’s work simplifying New Zealand qualifications and other credentials to enable the intent of RoVE.

This means that from around August this year all current training schemes will be treated as micro-credentials. Training schemes will no longer be an education product which NZQA can approve.

The change to the legislation will also separate the approval and accreditation of micro-credentials. This means providers will be able to be accredited to deliver approved micro-credentials developed, for example, by a WDC. NZQA will consult on updated micro-credential Rules once the legislation is passed.

What does this mean for my existing training scheme?

All training schemes will automatically become micro-credentials once the legislation is enacted. You do not need to apply for this to happen.

Once your training scheme becomes a micro-credential it will need to be reviewed to ensure it meets micro-credential rules. NZQA will communicate with you about this and provide further guidance later this year.

If we are developing something now, should we apply for a new training scheme or micro-credential?

We strongly recommend you apply for a micro-credential approval rather than a training scheme. This will help ensure your new offering better aligns with the updated legislation and NZQA Rules.

If you have a query/question about the transition of training schemes to micro-credentials, please send it to micro-credentials@nzqa.govt.nz

Rules for micro-credentials

NZQA considers applications from New Zealand TEOs for the approval of micro-credentials through the Training Scheme Rules or Consent to Assess Rules.

Additional requirements apply for micro-credentials as stated in the Rules.

Which Rules do I use?

The Training Scheme Rules are intended to approve micro-credentials delivered mainly in blended, online and classroom-based settings, while the Consent to Assess Rules are intended to approve micro-credentials delivered mainly in industry and workplace-based settings.

If you are unsure which set of Rules is appropriate for you, please discuss this with Approvals and Accreditation before making your application.

Micro-credentials register

Once NZQA approves a micro-credential, it is published on a micro-credential register.

Can I partner with other organisations to develop a micro-credential?

A range of groups can partner with TEOs to develop micro-credentials that meet their needs.

This section outlines how you may partner with TEOs to develop packages of learning and assessment that meet the needs of your employees, members, and people.

What should I do first?

  1. Identify the specific set of skills and/or knowledge that is needed.
  2. Identify a TEO (e.g. a regional private training establishment or a metropolitan subsidiary of Te Pūkenga, or a transitional industry training organisation) who is able to work with you to develop a micro-credential that will contain the skills and/or knowledge you need.
  3. Work with the TEO to develop a micro-credential that is educationally sound and meets NZQA’s approval requirements.
  4. Work with the TEO to arrange delivery of the micro-credential to your employees, members, and people.

Who should I work with?

Professional associations may be able to work with a TEO to develop a micro-credential that, once approved and registered by NZQA, can be delivered by TEOs as needed across the country.

If you have a micro-credential that you want to directly deliver then see below for details on NZQA’s assessment service that will evaluate your micro-credential in terms of levels and credits on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.

Professional associations and regulatory bodies

NZQA has identified support for the concept of 'New Zealand micro-credentials' following consultation on the introduction of micro-credentials as part of New Zealand’s regulated education and training system in March 2018.

There will be opportunities for professional associations or regulatory bodies to develop and assess micro-credentials to maintain the competency of their members.

NZQA would like to invite professional associations or regulatory bodies to discuss expressions of interest for the approval of ‘New Zealand micro-credentials’ with NZQA. Please email Approvals and Accreditation to make an appointment.

Can micro-credentials ‘stack’ to qualifications?

Yes. Programmes leading to qualifications may include micro-credentials as components of learning, provided the overall design of the programme is coherent and meets the qualification outcomes and strategic purpose.

Any micro-credential must continue to meet the NZQA definition and requirements for a micro-credential: i.e. an award that is a stand-alone package of learning, valuable in and of itself, that meets the needs of employers, industry, and/or iwi, hapu and community.

  • The micro-credential’s learning outcome(s) would be expected to map to the qualification outcome(s), and the micro-credential’s purpose to contribute to the qualification purpose.
  • The micro-credential application must state which qualification the micro-credential would be ‘stacked’ towards.
  • The programme application would be expected to continue to meet the requirements specified on the programme approval page.

This approach allows for including micro-credentials in the design of a programme. It helps enable a more modular and flexible approach to learning and achievement where a learner may enrol into a qualification and/or the micro-credential depending on their goal.

Examples include:

  • a micro-credential that enables a learner to gain specific skills for an industry that leads to employment and could also be a first step to a qualification in that industry
  • a micro-credential that enables a learner to gain specific skills that are part of a larger qualification

Can micro-credentials make up all of a programme?

NZQA considers it unlikely that most programmes could be wholly made up of micro-credentials because each micro-credential would also need to meet the requirement of being an individual award that is a stand-alone package of learning.

In the rare instances where this could occur and programmes are submitted wholly designed with micro-credentials, these will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Micro-credentials can't duplicate current quality-assured learning

NZQA requires that micro-credentials typically do not duplicate current quality assured learning approved by NZQA.

Where NZQA considers a micro-credential duplicates learning within an approved programme, it must show that it meets the definition and requirements of a micro-credential.

Recognising learning and transferring credit from micro-credentials to qualifications 

Approved micro-credentials continue to be able to contribute relevant learning toward the components of programmes leading to qualifications through recognition of learning.

For further information about how to use credit recognition and transfer to recognise learning toward qualifications see the Guidelines for the recognition and award of learning for credit.

How do I apply?

Guidelines and application form for micro-credentials

NZQA has Guidelines for applying for approval of a training scheme or a micro-credential.

Please use these guidelines when preparing to apply.

If you are thinking about delivering the micro-credential using Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) funding, we advise that you contact your TEC Relationship Manager or TEC's Customer Contact Group when preparing your application.

Micro-credential application form

NZQA also has an application form (DOCX, 97KB). It contains prompts for what documentation to include in your application.

Requests for further information following submission of application

Please note that there will be no requests for further information (RFI) for micro-credentials.

If sufficient information is not supplied during the initial submission the application will be declined.

Consent to assess

If your micro-credential contains standards listed on the Directory of Assessment Standards, you will need consent to assess for those standards.

You will need to apply separately for consent to assess, but the application will be evaluated at the same time as your micro-credential application.

To apply for approval of a micro-credential, use NZQA’s online application process.

Steps for online application

  1. Login to the NZQA secure extranet.
  2. Login into your TEO profile.
  3. Create an application.
  4. Choose ‘other’. This takes you to an application overview. Make sure you include Micro-credential in the title of the application.
  5. Click on Contact Details. The Contact Details page will be pre-populated with your organisation’s information. You should make any changes necessary to ensure the details are appropriate for the micro-credential.
  6. Follow the instructions and guided application template.
  7. On the supporting documents page, attach and upload the following:
    1. Statement of purpose and learning outcomes for the micro-credential
    2. Evidence of need by industry, employers, iwi and/or community.
    3. Any other supporting documentation
    4. Completed application form (optional)
  8. Submit the application.

An email acknowledging receipt of your application will be generated automatically and sent to you.

How long will it take?

NZQA will process applications for approval of micro-credentials from Category 1 and 2 TEOs. The process will take up to 20 working days.

Category 3 TEOs may not be able to apply. Please contact Approvals and Accreditation to discuss any applications before submitting.

How much will it cost?

NZQA charges $190.00 (excluding GST) per hour for evaluation.

NZQA will send the applicant an invoice after the application has been processed.

Applications from organisations that are not New Zealand Tertiary Education Organisations

A separate assessment service will evaluate the content of micro-credentials from international and New Zealand organisations that are not TEOs.

NZQA will issue equivalence statements showing the credit value and level of such learning against the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.

For more information see Micro-credential equivalency on the NZQF.

Who can have their micro-credential assessed for equivalency?

Any organisation which is not a New Zealand Tertiary Education Organisation can apply to have their micro-credential recognised.

This includes employers, government agencies, iwi, community organisations, professional associations and overseas education organisations.

Reporting a micro-credential

When a learner has achieved a micro-credential, you can report their achievement to NZQA so it is displayed on their New Zealand Record of Achievement (NZRoA).

There is no legal requirement for you to report a learner’s achievement of a micro-credential to NZQA. You may still have to report it through the Single Data Return (SDR). However, NZQA recommends that you report micro-credential completions so that learners benefit from having this achievement appear promptly on their NZRoA.

To report the achievement, you will need:

  • the learner's NSN number
  • the date of the achievement
  • the name of the micro-credential or qualification achieved.

Cost to report a micro-credential

To report the achievement of a micro-credential there is a $5.10 (GST inclusive) charge per micro-credential.

This charge supports the administration of the system.

Reviewing a micro-credential

If you have an approved micro-credential, you need to review it every 12 months.

Your review needs to reflect if learners are doing your micro-credential and if the relevant industry, employers or community still need it.

Please complete the micro-credentials review report (DOCX, 55KB) and email it to nzqfquestions@nzqa.govt.nz.

Removing a micro-credential from the register of approved micro-credentials

If you want to remove an approved micro-credential from the register of approved micro-credentials, you will need to:

Further information

If you have any questions, or would like to request further information, please email Approvals and Accreditation.

Skip to main page content Accessibility page with list of access keys Home Page Site Map Contact Us newzealand.govt.nz