Cycle 6 Academic Audit


The sixth cycle of academic audit for New Zealand universities commenced in 2017 and will run until 2024. The Cycle will be reviewed in 2025.
Cycle 6 is a composite cycle with 10 components (see below) operating over an enhancement phase and an audit phase. The enhancement phase ran from September 2017 to March 2020. Enhancement Theme materials can be found on the Enhancement Theme website.

The audit phase of Cycle 6 will commence in 2022. The indicative schedule for university audits is set out in the table below. The specific audit timeline for each university will be agreed between AQA and the university.

AQA will undertake an interim review of Cycle 6 at the end of 2022 to confirm that audit processes are performing as anticipated. This will include examining whether the two guideline statements arising from the enhancement theme are eliciting expected information. The review of Cycle 6 will take place in 2025.

Guides to Cycle 6

Audit requirements and processes are set out in the Guide to Cycle 6 and a Supplement for Auditors. A short guide to the Cycle 6 Audit Framework is also available.
Between December 2019 and March 2020, AQA delivered a series of workshops to introduce Cycle 6 and inform preparation for self-review. Slides from the workshop are available here. AQA has also developed an online short course based on these workshops. The course is on the iQualify platform. Please contact the Executive Director to enrol in this course.

Cycle 6 Components 

  • maintains an internationally referenced, cyclical, peer-review model of external quality assurance
  • maintains a high-trust, enabling relationship between the universities and AQA that recognises and respects universities’ responsibility and accountability for quality as well as AQA’s Terms of Reference and independence
  • maintains the scope of academic audit on teaching, learning, support and outcomes for students
  • builds on and refreshes the Cycle 5 academic audit framework (guideline statements) and further emphasises outcomes and the use of evidence. 
  • incorporates a thematic enhancement topic agreed by all universities that is both a strategic priority for universities and of national importance. The enhancement theme topic for Cycle 6 is Access, outcomes and opportunity for Māori students and for Pasifika students.
  • audits universities 7-8 years after their Cycle 5 audit
  • includes students or recent graduates in audit panels
  • amends the audit delivery method so that panels spend more time together initially and that time spent at the university is more targeted and requires meeting with fewer individuals
  • develops audit reports to comment on outcomes and enhancement initiatives, as well as processes
  • includes a public report on a university’s response to recommendations. A mid-cycle follow-up report on Cycle 5 recommendations has been introduced.

Cycle 6 development

The development of Cycle 6 is reported on pages 57 – 62 of “Good Practices of External Quality Assurance Agencies across the Globe” published by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) of India and the Asia Pacific Quality Network (APQN) and also in an Evolving quality paper presented at the 10th Higher Education Conference on Innovation and developments in Teaching and Learning Quality Assurance in 2018.