A review of New Zealand's 6,000 qualifications will result in a more streamlined system with fewer qualifications that are more easily recognisable to both students and employers, says Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce.
The review, which is being carried out by New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), is the first significant work in this area since 1990, when the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) was established.
"Since that time there has been an ongoing proliferation of qualifications. There are now more than 6000 qualifications on the NZ Register of Quality Assured Qualifications (the Register) - many of which are unused, or used only by the provider that set them up," says Mr Joyce.
"In Finland - which has a slightly larger population than ours - there are just 500 qualifications on offer. I don't think we need to get it that low, but 6,000 certainly seems too high for a country of our size.
"Employers and industry have told us they want a simplified system that allows qualifications to be recognised more readily throughout the country."
The first priority is establishment of the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) in July this year.
This will unify the existing NQF and the NZ Register of Quality Assured Qualifications, allowing students, parents and funders to see what qualifications are active, inactive or closed.
Mr Joyce says this change alone will reduce by around 25 percent the overall number by the middle of the year.
"The goal is to cut duplication, and also reduce the number of new qualifications being added to the system unnecessarily.
"The new framework will also enable students, parents, funders and anyone else with an interest to see what qualifications are active, inactive or closed."
Currently, all quality assured qualifications are listed on the New Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications. Within the Register, the NQF contains only those qualifications that are made up of unit and achievement standards.
A system for pre-assessment of proposed qualifications, including support from industry, to reduce the number of new qualifications coming into the system will also be set up following the review.