New Zealand confirms English requirement changes

06 July, 2015

New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) has confirmed changes to English language requirements for international students, meaning providers’ own internal language proficiency assessments can only be used for students from a country with a student visa approval rate of at least 80 per cent.


The new changes, which were for published for public consultation in May, came into effect in mid-June.

Under the new system, Category 1 and 2 assessed providers can only use internal tests, and Category 1, 2 and 3 providers can only use a previous English-medium school as evidence of proficiency for students from countries above the 80 per cent threshold.

Providers can still enrol students from countries below the student visa threshold, but students will need to provide a required score on one of the approved English language tests (Ielts, Toefl, Cambridge, IESOL, Pearson and New Zealand Certificate in English Language). NZQA has published a list of required scores for each test and programme level.

Alternatively, a NCEA (National Certificates of Educational Achievement) Level 3 qualification, a bachelor’s degree from one of the major English-speaking study destinations, or the Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (Celta) will be accepted as evidence of suitable English skills.

Major source countries below the 80 per cent student visa success threshold in 2014, according to data published by Immigration New Zealand, included India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

India was the largest growth market for New Zealand in the recently published full-year 2014 data with an additional 8,135 students, despite a student visa approval rate of 62 per cent.

Unveiling the 2014 data, which was the country’s strongest performance for a decade, the Tertiary Education Minister, Steven Joyce, referred to the imminent English language rule changes and said, “Government agencies are working together to ensure provider standards remain at appropriately high levels.”

Matthew Knott
News Editor


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