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Certificates and other records of achievement


The New Zealand Education system operates a years 1–13 system, parallel to Australian states’ years K–12. Secondary schooling covers years 9 to 13.

What award does the New Zealand Qualifications Authority issue to students on successful completion of study in Year 13?

In 2004 the awards for year 13 students are qualifications registered on New Zealand’s National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and the Register of Quality-Assured Qualifications: Level 3 of the standards-based National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), other NQF qualifications at or above level 3, and the new New Zealand Scholarship Certificate. The NCEA is a group of three qualifications registered on the NQF, viz. NCEA Level 1, NCEA Level 2 and NCEA Level 3, which have been progressively introduced since 2002. These qualifications are gained by accumulating a prescribed number of credits. These credits are awarded when set standards have been achieved. The New Zealand Scholarship Certificate is a level 4 qualification on the Register of Quality-Assured Qualifications.

The NCEA uses both achievement standards, which are in traditional school curriculum areas, and unit standards, which cover a wide range of learning areas. In achievement standards, students can achieve the standard with merit or excellence grades. National standards have been set in each area of learning within which different aspects of skills, knowledge and understanding are assessed. When students achieve these standards they earn credits toward NQF qualifications. Qualifications awarded in schools are primarily the NCEA group, at levels 1, 2 and 3. Each student's results are detailed in a Record of Learning that provides a profile of their achievements.

Though the NCEA Level 2 qualification became available in 2003, the previous year 12 award, Sixth Form Certificate, remains available on a transitional basis in 2004.

From 2005, the only national qualifications in the senior secondary school will be those registered on the internationally benchmarked NQF, including the NCEA, and the New Zealand Scholarship Certificate.

Before 2004, two year 13 credentials were available: the New Zealand Higher School Certificate (HSC), and the University Entrance, Bursaries and Scholarships (UEBS) award. Both were awarded for the last time in 2003.

The New Zealand Higher School Certificate (HSC) was a course completion award which certified the satisfactory completion of five years' secondary schooling, signalling that the holder has a basic preparedness, including English language and study skills, for tertiary study.

Full-time or part-time students either enrolled in year 12 or year 13 at a school, or studying a course one year in advance of an equivalent course in which they had gained a Sixth Form Certificate qualification, could enter for the University Entrance, Bursaries and Scholarships (UEBS) award. The results of this credential were used to grant entrance to universities, selection for a range of study and employment purposes, bursaries for tertiary study, and scholarship awards to high-achieving candidates.

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What must students do to be awarded NCEA Level 3?

The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (Level 3) will be awarded to those who are credited with a minimum of 80 credits from achievement standards and/or unit standards anywhere on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). At least 60 credits must be at level 3 or above, with the balance from level 2.

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Which document(s) lists the subjects/courses studied in Year 12 and/or Year 13?

Both achievement and unit standards can be accessed at, while unit standards are listed on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) website These are the standards that must be attained to gain credit; the learning programmes/courses that students follow are not explicitly prescribed. The Assessment and Certification Rules and Procedures for Secondary Schools can be found at

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What advice is given relating to tertiary selection?

In 2004, a student meeting the following criteria will be academically qualified to enter a New Zealand university:

Tertiary institutions set their own entry policies to restricted courses. Admission to restricted courses (e.g., medicine) is competitive and from 2004 will make use of results achieved from NQF assessments. The required level of performance varies from year to year depending on the number and calibre of applicants. Universities may take other aspects into account in making selection to restricted courses.

Individual universities’ and tertiary institutions’ liaison officers provide advice and guidance on tertiary entry requirements.

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Who issues this advice?

The Qualifications Authority provides advice and guidance to assist tertiary providers to adapt their entrance and selection criteria as the National Certificate Educational Achievement (NCEA) is implemented.

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