School categories

NZQA

All New Zealand non-university education providers (including English language schools) are regularly assessed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and placed into one of 4 categories based on the overall quality of their:

  • Governance, management and strategy,
  • International student support, and:
  • Educational Performance.

Consider this New Zealand’s only official rating scale of all non-university education providers. Here’s what this means for international students, essentially:

  • Category 1 = Excellent
  • Category 2 = Good
  • Category 3 = Not good (needs improvement)
  • Category 4 = Bad (cannot accept international students)

As of early 2016, 90% of New Zealand English language providers are Category 1; the remaining 10% are Category 2. Luckily, there are no Category 3 and Category 4 English language schools in New Zealand. It is safe to expect that ALL New Zealand English language schools will be Category 1 by the end of 2020.

When it comes to Category 1 and 2 English language schools, there are a couple of differences:

Category 1 English language schools:

  • Excel in educational performance and self-assessment, and:
  • Allow international students to work part-time 20 hours per week when enrolled in an English course of 14 weeks or longer.

Category 2 English language schools:

  • Satisfy NZQA’s minimum requirements in terms of educational performance and self-assessment, and:
  • Allow international students to work part-time 20 hours per week when enrolled in an English course of 6 months or longer, given that they have an IELTS score of 5.0 or above.

In terms of fees, Category 2 English language schools typically offer cheaper courses overall.

A large number of New Zealand English language schools are members of English New Zealand – a private association of English language school operators established back in 1986. Member schools must meet the English New Zealand standards in addition to the NZQA requirements for registration and accreditation. These additional standards assess:

  • Academic staff qualifications and experience
  • Academic content
  • Professional support and development
  • Curriculum design and delivery
  • Student assessment
  • The learning environment and resources
  • Self-assessment and student feedback

NZQA recognizes the English New Zealand standards as part of their External Evaluation and Review (EER) quality assurance system.

A small number of New Zealand English language providers are also members of the International Association of Language Centres (IALC). Member schools must meet the IALC standards in addition to NZQA requirements for registration and accreditation.

Unlike with English New Zealand, NZQA does not recognize IALC standards as part of EER.

Typically, New Zealand English language schools are members of either English New Zealand or IALC, not both.

Please note: neither the NZQA, nor English New Zealand or IALC rate English language schools in terms of their:

  • Facilities,
  • Technologies,
  • Class sizes,
  • Afternoon activities,
  • Nationality mix, and:
  • Homestay families.

Official objective rankings of these factors are almost non-existent. International students who consider these factors important as part of their overall English language school selection process are encouraged to draw information from:

  • This website, in particular:
    • School descriptions,
    • Course descriptions, and:
    • Reviews;
  • English language school’s official website (typically ending with “.ac.nz”),
  • English New Zealand website, and:
  • IALC website.

Quality-conscious international students are encouraged to choose ONLY NZQA-accredited Category 1 English language schools that are members of English New Zealand and listed on Tambook.com

Happy searching!