Investigations and reviews

One of the Tertiary Education Commission’s key functions is to monitor tertiary education organisations (TEOs) to ensure they are delivering programmes in line with their funding agreements with us.

Our monitoring and risk management decisions and procedures are informed by ongoing data analysis, information from NZQA and Studylink, and complaints.

Monitoring can include some or all of:


Audits are carried out to ensure compliance with conditions of funding.  Audits place emphasis on procedures, processes, accuracy of records and how a TEO’s statutory obligations and conditions of funding are managed within the organisation. We conduct up to 70 audits each year.


Reviews are generally carried out as a result of the TEC receiving information about or becoming aware of matters relating to the activities of a TEO that require further examination. Reviews typically cover a two-year period.


Investigations examine the activities of a TEO in more depth than an audit or a review, and cover six years. Investigations are more likely to be initiated in relation to specific actions, activities or questions of conduct identified as a result of an audit or a review, or a complaint received.

The TEC commissions external consultancies to carry out reviews and investigations. We publish reports as reviews and investigations are completed.

On this page:


Reports of investigations


Lincoln University’s Telford Division

New Zealand School of Outdoor Studies


Manaakitanga Aotearoa Charitable Trust

Agribusiness Training Ltd

Tectra Limited

Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre



In 2014, the TEC commissioned a number of investigations of tertiary education organisations. Two are complete:

Te Whare Wanānga o Awanuiārangi

Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT)

Reports of reviews



In late 2015, the TEC began more in-depth analysis of TEO data using pattern recognition software. This is now applied to the Single Data Return (SDR) which TEOs submit three times a year. Each round of data analysis can raise queries which have the following outcomes:

  • no concerns
  • minor matters that can be followed up by the TEC investment teams through normal contact
  • matters that look unusual that are followed up by the TEC auditors as part of their annual audit schedule
  • matters that are of concern that are followed up more immediately by external contractors (reviews)
  • serious matters that are investigated immediately (investigations).

It is important to note that when we instigate an audit, review or investigation we do not necessarily believe that a breach of our funding conditions has occurred. 

We commissioned seven reviews following the August 2015 SDR analysis. Most of these were as a result of the data analysis, but some were chosen because they had similar characteristics to TEOs where issues had previously been identified.

Four of these reviews (see reports below) have been completed and any issues found addressed satisfactorily. The remainder are not yet finalised but will be published when they are.

Focused reviews 

In late 2014, the TEC and NZQA announced that a series of focused reviews would be carried out in selected tertiary education organisations (TEOs).

The reviews focused on TEOs which offered programmes that displayed similar features to those found in two previous investigations at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT).  

These features included:

  • a high level of sub-contracting, and/or
  • programmes with very high course and qualification completion rates, and/or
  • courses that had grown very rapidly. 

Six TEOs had focused reviews completed. Five reviews found no significant issues and the TEC took no further action. Copies of these reports can be found below:

*Note: TEC accepted the findings from an independent report commissioned by Service IQ.

One TEO, Agribusiness, was found to have issues that required further scrutiny.  The TEC elevated this to an investigation. Completed in 2015, the outcome for the Agribusiness investigation is reported above.

The TEC has not undertaken any further focused reviews at this time. 

Our monitoring

In 2015, the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), together with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, commissioned Deloitte to review the two agencies’ monitoring approaches.

Deloitte Review of Tertiary Education Organisation Monitoring Framework (PDF, 718 Kb)


  • Last changed: 19 October 2016
  • Last verified: 19 October 2016