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 purpose and terms of reference of AQA are set out in its Constitution and encompass both academic quality assurance and academic quality enhancement.

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. Further information about the work of CUAP and AQA can be found in the Academic Quality Assurance of New Zealand Universities brochure.

AQA is subject to regular external review and was reviewed in 1997, 20012009 and 2015. The June 2015 report and AQA’s one-year follow up report on response to recommendations can be found here.

Student Voice

The Academic Quality Agency for New Zealand Universities and the New Zealand Union of Student Associations signed a Partnership Agreement in August 2021. The Partnership Agreement updates and reframes a 2017 Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations and reflects national and international developments in student engagement and contribution to academic quality.

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 or reviews of international institutions. AQA has audited the University of the South Pacific (2013) and the National University of Samoa (2015) and conducted a programme review for Macao Polytechnic Institute (2016).

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.

Our Name

Previously the New Zealand Universities Academic Audit Unit (NZUAAU), on 1 January 2013 we became 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.