About Us

The Academic Quality Agency for New Zealand Universities (AQA), previously known as the New Zealand Universities Academic Audit Unit, was established in 1993 by the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee to carry out audits of the processes in universities which underpin academic quality.

AQA's governing Board is appointed by the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors' Committee. AQA is operationally independent of Universities New Zealand - Te Pōkai Tara. The mission and terms of reference of AQA encompass both academic quality assurance and academic quality enhancement, including the dissemination of good practice.

Academic audits are carried out by panels of 4-6 auditors. Auditors appointed to audit New Zealand universities are individuals who have been identified by AQA as meeting specific criteria pertaining to academic audit of a university. Auditors are most commonly senior academics or professionals experienced in quality assurance who have been trained as academic auditors either by AQA or by another quality assurance body. All New Zealand audit panels include at least one overseas auditor. Cycle 6 Academic Audits will include students or recent grduates as a member of the audit panel.

AQA is one of two bodies established to oversee the quality assurance of New Zealand universities. The Committee on University Academic Programmes (CUAP) is charged with setting up and applying qualification and regulation approval, accreditation and programme moderation procedures across universities. To learn more about the work of CUAP and of AQA, have a look at this brochure, Academic Quality Assurance of New Zealand Universities, or read our Frequently Asked Questions (and answers).

AQA is, itself, subject to regular external review and was reviewed in 1997, 2001, 2009 and 2015. The report of the June 2015 review is expected to be released later this year.


Students Voice

In 2017 AQA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with NZUSA. The MoU gives effect to AQA and NZUSA's shared objective of having an authentic, enduring, diverse and effective student voice that contributes to academic quality and quality assurance in New Zealand universities. The MoU also supports a specific objective to include students, or recent graduates, as auditors in the sixth cycle of academic audit for New Zealand Universities.

International engagement

AQA is a full member of the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education, INQAAHE, and adheres to its Guidelines of Good Practice in Quality Assurance. AQA is also a full member of the Asia-Pacific Quality Network. AQA has strong relationships with a number of peer international agencies and has signed memoranda with the Taiwan Assessment and Evaluation Association (2013), the University of the South Pacific (re-signed 2013), National University of Samoa (2014), and the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications (2015). From time-to-time AQA undertakes audits of international institutions. Most recently AQA has audited the University of the South Pacific (2013) and the National University of Samoa (2015).

In 2013 AQA was awarded the Asia-Pacific Quality Network (APQN) inaugural Quality Award for Stakeholder Engagement. APQN Quality Awards are determined by an international panel with a focus on identifying and distinguishing extraordinary quality assurance contribution and good practices that have the potential of replication across the APQN network.

About our name

Previously the New Zealand Universities Academic Audit Unit, from 1 January 2013 we are now the Academic Quality Agency for New Zealand Universities (AQA). Our new name reflects the broader quality enhancement focus of our independent organisation.

Our Māori name - Te Pokapū Kounga Mātauranga mō ngā Whare Wānanga o Aotearoa - translates as: Pokapū meaning agency, middle, hub, and axis; Kounga meaning quality, the degree of excellence or desired standards; Mātauranga meaning education, wisdom, knowledge, understanding and skill. Our flax motif is distinctly New Zealand. Strong and nurturing, harakeke provides a place for birds to rest and refuel before travelling onwards.