Frequently Asked Questions

The Capable NZ programmes offer great opportunities for learners, especially those who found "life got in the way". Our assessment processes measure skills, knowledge and learning to enable people to achieve the tertiary qualification they have always wanted.

On this site you will find information about our programmes, the processes we work with, and stories from successful Capable NZ graduates. But interested individuals and organisations often have questions about the services and qualifications we offerand we have tried to provide answers to many of them here.

If the information you're looking for is not here please contact us and we will be happy to answer any questions you have about Capable NZ.

Who is Capable NZ?

Capable NZ is a school within Otago Polytechnic, and we have been helping learners achieve tertiary qualifications since the early 2000's.  Our main office is in Dunedin, and we also have offices in Wellington and Auckland. We provide services for learners throughout New Zealand and our team of expert facilitators and academic mentors can offer support in person, and using a range of tools from the phone through to web conferencing.

Are your qualifications nationally recognised?

The simple answer is 'Yes'. On successful completion of a Capable NZ programme you are awarded an Otago Polytechnic qualification. It's the same award that you would receive completing a taught programme here at Otago Polytechnic. All of the qualifications we award are NZQA accredited and nationally recognised.

Through Capable NZ you can achieve almost all of the awards available at Otago Polytechnic from certificates and diplomas, through to bachelor and postgraduate degrees. Currently out highest level of award is the Master of Professional Practice, which is an NZQA level 9 qualification.

You can read more about the qualifications we offer on our 'programmes' pages.

How do you assess me for the qualification?

We use three methods of assessment which are an Independent Learning Pathway (ILP) which includes assessment of prior learning (APL), Work-based Learning (WBL) and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). The appropriate pathway will depend on your level of skills, knowledge and learning, and the qualification you want to achieve. Some qualifications such as the Bachelor of Social Services can be achieved through both an Independent Learning Pathway and Work-based Learning, depending on the learner. Other qualifications, such as the Graduate Diploma in Professional Practice, are only delivered as Work-based Learning because the nature of the programme requires new specific new learning to be demonstrated in a work-based context. Qualifications such as the Diploma in Horticulture are unit standards based, and therefore will be assessed using Recognition of Prior Learning methods.

  • Independent Learning Pathways are an assessment of your skills and learning from work and life experience using the benchmark of a Graduate Profile. This combines with a demonstration of new learning acquired through your Capable NZ enrolment. This can take the form of case studies (minimum of two) and other writing that explores your skill and knowledge aligned with academic theory and models.  Read more about Independent Learning Pathways.
  • Work-based Learning begins by assessing your prior learning, then working with you and your employer to develop a new learning project that allows you to gain the skills and knowledge you need, whilst addressing a challenge facing your organisation. Read more about Work-based Learning.
  • Recognition of Prior Learning assesses your experience and knowledge against specific criteria, such as unit standards, using evidence that demonstrates your ability to meet that criteria. This is used in qualifications such as certificates and unit-standard based diplomas.

What is required in a portfolio of evidence?

Each portfolio of evidence is unique to you as a learner as everyone brings something different based on their experience and personal learning opportunities. However as a general guide these are the kinds of elements we would expect to see in a portfolio of evidence.

  • Contents page
  • Current, up-to-date CV that reflects the skills, knowledge and attributes of the qualification you are hoping to achieve
  • Reflections of early life influences, values and role models
  • Timeline of work history as it relates to the context of the qualification
  • Two or three comprehensive case studies of work relating to the qualification, with evidence of deep and critical reflection
  • Examples of theories, models, strategies and tools that underpin your professional practice
  • A document detailing your solid framework of practice showing integration with the graduate profile
  • Evidence of prior qualifications, study, and learning
  • Attestations and references from people affirming that you have held roles and responsibilities, including details of skills and examples of strengths and qualities
  • Examples of work relating to the qualification
  • Awards and other evidence of professional development
  • Details and evidence of relevant voluntary and community work
  • Reference list / bibliography

A portfolio for qualifications such as Bachelor of Design and Bachelor of Visual Arts will also include examples of completed work with detailed development work. Similarly a portfolio for the Bachelor of Information Technology or Bachelor of Engineering Technology will include a completed new learning project agreed with your facilitator / academic mentor.

What does the panel assessment involve?

The oral presentation takes approximately 2 hours. The first 1-1.5 hours will be your presentation when you will sum up what you have submitted in your portfolio of evidence, demonstrating a deep understanding of the theories and models that underpin your personal framework of practice. Where required you will reference specific materials that you have included within your portfolio.

Your presentation can be developed using applications such as Microsoft PowerPoint or Prezi, but other materials and media can be used where appropriate, for example a presentation for a Bachelor of Design learner is likely to include examples of work. However you present your summing up, it will demonstrate your capabilities and understandings at the appropriate academic level, and succinctly cover how you meet the graduate profile.

We allow an additional 30 minutes for discussion and questions from the academic panel, who may want to explore aspects of your presentation.

How long does it take to get a qualification, and how much time commitment is required each week?

For every qualification we enrol a learner on there is a defined duration depending on the demands of that award. Typically for a bachelor degree via ILP we enroll a learner for 10 months and you will be expected to complete your portfolio and assessment within that period. If you are completing the same bachelor degree via WBL we enroll a learner for 15 months to allow time to complete the new learning project. Learners undertaking the Master of Professional Practice are enrolled for 18 months.

Regardless of the qualification, the time commitment each week is in the order of 20 to 24 hours if the learner is enrolled to complete the qualification in the timeframes above - which are for full-time study. A part-time option is available if this time commitment is too challenging. Some of this time commitment may be integrated with the learner's usual work hours where new learning is directly work related.

What is the Independent Learning Pathway process?

ILP differs from traditional "taught" programmes where you attend classes. The ILP process assesses your skills, knowledge and learning acquired through years of experience in your life and workplace. Many of our learners have a more than 10 years working in their relevant field of expertise, and through this have learned a broad range of skills.

Once enrolled you work with one of our experienced facilitators to help you build your portfolio of evidence. This will require you to reflect on your life and previous work experience to identify key influences and the sources of the values and behaviours that define your working practice. This is often depicted in a visual timeline as part of your final presentation.

In many qualifications you will prepare a number of case studies (minimum of two) that detail challenges or scenarios demonstrating your range of skills against the appropriate graduate profile. Additional reading and research will help you identify and explore the appropriate academic frameworks and models you have been employing, that together define your own personal model of practice.

Once your portfolio is ready you will present to a panel of industry and academic specialists who will measure your evidence and presentation against the graduate profile. If successful you will be awarded the chosen Otago Polytechnic qualification.

For Work-based Learning the process includes developing a new learning agreement that includes Capable NZ, your organisation and you. This project will help develop the skills and knowledge identified as requiring further growth in your initial assessment. During this project you will be assisted by an academic mentor.

How long until I hear once I've completed the pre-assessment survey?

We will always endeavour to respond to your enquiry within 2 working days providing you with information about the appropriate pathway, costs, and what the next steps would be for you to continue with an application. At certain times of the year the response time may be slightly longer if we are receiving a higher than normal volume of enquiries.

When do I find out if my application has been accepted?

Once you have submitted all of the required documentation (such as a CV and application form) your application will be reviewed by one of our team and you will receive a call from a facilitator to discuss your prior learning, goals and understanding of the programme. If the decision is made to proceed and offer you a place this will be emailed to you be our administration team. You will need to sign this offer and return it before we can complete enrolment. Typically this will take approximately 2 weeks. However it can take longer if further information is required about your application, if there is a delay in sending back your signed offer, and depending on the volume of applications. You will a final confirmation of enrolment via email.

How much does it cost, what are my payment options and is it covered by a StudyLink student loan?

The cost will depend on the chosen qualification and the learning pathway that is taken. A work-based learning pathway typically takes 18 months and therefore the cost will be higher than a 10 month independent learning pathway. The cost represents what you would pay for a single year of study on a traditional taught programme. For example, to complete a bachelor's degree via Capable NZ costs the equivalent of the third year of studying a degree on campus.

You will be provided with a cost estimate when you enquire about completing a qualification, and an exact cost is provided as part of your offer letter if you are successful in your application. You are able to pay in a lump sum at the beginning of your enrolment or in part-payments throughout the enrolled period. You can indicate your preferred option when you sign and return your offer letter. All fees must be paid before you complete your final assessment.

The programmes delivered by Capable NZ are eligible for StudyLink student loans at bachelor's degree and above. National diplomas and certificates based on unit standards may not be eligible for StudyLink funding. To discuss your specific circumstances you will need to contact StudyLink directly.