New Zealand plans to change English test rules

05 May, 2015

New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) is seeking industry consultation on plans to change the English language entry requirements for international students, with proposals restricting the freedom of institutions to use internal assessment for ‘higher risk’ nationalities.

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority

Under the proposed changes to Rule 18 of the NZQF Programme Approval and Accreditation Rules 2013, Category 1 and Category 2 level providers will only be able to use internal English language assessments for students from countries with a visa approval rate of over 90 per cent.

A second proposed change to Rule 18 means that Category 1, 2 and 3 providers can only use previous study at English-medium schools as evidence of proficiency for nationalities with a 90 per cent visa approval rate.

NZQA will use an annual list of approved countries that achieved over 90 per cent approval rate in the last year, provided by Immigration New Zealand. Countries that are not on the approved list for 2014 include India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Institutions will have to use an approved English language test for students from countries below the threshold, currently: Ielts, Toefl, University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, the New Zealand Certificate in English Language (NZCEL), Pearson Test of English, and the IESOL qualifications from City & Guilds.

NZQA said the change was being proposed because the number of student visa applications declined by Immigration New Zealand over the last year had highlighted English language testing as an issue.

“Immigration New Zealand data provided to NZQA shows that the visa applications in question are more likely to have been declined when tertiary education organisations did not use an internationally recognised test of English language proficiency: i.e. when providers have used their own English language assessment or prior study at schools where English is the medium of instruction as evidence of English proficiency,” said NZQA in the consultation paper.

NZQA is seeking industry consultation until mid-May and is expected to announce final changes in late June.

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