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Goodbye NZLS Diploma - Hello NZQA

NZ Law Society NZQA diploma qualification transition transitional arrangements consultation completion feedback cross credit

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#1 Viola



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Posted 21 March 2017 - 07:58 PM

Hello fellow students.


If you're not aware of it, we are all going to be transferred to an NZQA qualification from the beginning of 2018.


For your information, I am posting the text of an email I sent to Jane Needham today, concerning the end of the diploma's relationship with the NZ Law Society, and its transfer to an NZQA qualification.  This is not what I signed up for.  If you are a student affected by this transfer, please be sure to read Ms Needham's recent email from customerservices@openpolytechnic.ac.nz as it may affect you.  I am concerned about losing the NZLS affiliation and the connection this gives us with the legal industry from day 1, and I'm apprehensive about becoming just another drop in the big NZQA bucket.  Some discussion would be great.


This is what I wrote :


Dear Ms Needham,
I have received your email notifying me of the proposed termination of my current program, and my involuntary enrolment in a program I have not chosen to undertake.  I am writing to ask you to reconsider the proposed cancellation of the NZLS Legal Executive Diploma for students like myself who are part-way through the course. The replacement of the NZLS-issued diploma by a generic NZQA-issued qualification was not in my contemplation when I enrolled in the program in 2015 for the 2016 academic year, and is not a possibility that has been properly raised with me meanwhile.
I will be contacting NZQA to query the propriety of the notified transitional arrangements which seem abrupt and devoid of any customer awareness, particularly this customer's expectation that he would have the opportunity to complete the program of study he enrolled in without variation of the program's paramaters; including the issuing body.  The way this has been handled is inconsistent with the way such transitions are normally handled in a learning institution.
Please note the following;
1) I have complied with all administrative requirements, including registration with the NZLS as a student of the program, and paid a fee, which creates a relationship of a different quality with the expected issuer than a student of a generic program that does not require the establishment of an industry affiliation at the outset of study.  
2) The intended issuer (NZLS) did not signify at the time of my enrolment or registration that it may unilaterally terminate our relationship despite my having passed both papers I enrolled in, and subsequently delegate its responsibility to conclude its existing obligations under our relationship to NZQA/Open Polytechnic, and I have not subsequently ceded it that right.
3) NZLS has not consulted me nor sought my agreement to end our relationship and nothing I have done can be taken to have agreed to the end of our relationship.  For the purpose of clarity, I now advise you that I do not consent to any variation in my existing relationship with NZLS, including the unilateral termination notified.
4) At the end of this year I expect to have passed two thirds of the program and it is not an unreasonable expectation, consistent with the manner these matters are normally managed in transitional arrangements in a learning institution, for me to have the opportunity to pass the remaining third of the program without untoward variations in the program's parameters.
May I suggest that the Open Polytechnic open a discussion page for affected students on it website, and allow a fair and open opportunity for your customers to consult on a consensus view?  I think it is appropriate for further action on the proposed transition to be put on hold until you have heard from your customers, individually managed each's transition, and complied with the industry standard for the transition of students from an existing qualification to a new one. 
Yours faithfully


#2 Lorna72



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Posted 22 March 2017 - 09:38 AM

Hi there I thought the way I understood it was that you have until 2020 to sit the rest of the papers to get the current legal exec diploma?

#3 Viola



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Posted 22 March 2017 - 11:29 AM

Hello Lorna,


That would be a great way of doing it and I would be very happy if the OP adopted this approach.  Unfortunately, this is not what Ms Needham's email says.  I will apologise all round if I have missed something in her 20 March email, but I have gone back and checked it and can find no mention of 2020, so I'm not getting out the cutlery for the humble pie yet.


I love this course, and I want it to have good academic standards.  I don't know if you were enrolled last year; it was my first year and Cedric Hunt ran my courses wonderfully well.  He's gone and standards have slipped already.  No assessments are posted yet, and for me these are important signposts for what I should be focusing on; that and the exam questions from the NZLS. OP has had 5 months since the exams to get this sorted. If this is the beginning of the transition, it has not started well. One of my study packs which should have arrived 2 weeks before the beginning of study only turned up on Monday this week - but I am overseas. Allowing a week for the courier, it is still about a month late, though.  Unimpressive, but a minor matter concerned with my major concern.


I am deeply concerned that losing the NZLS connection will lead to dumbing down of the course, and that will ultimately lead to the course losing its good reputation with practising lawyers. Employment might become harder. The level 5 papers I did last year were real level 5, and quite challenging, as you would expect with the law.  If you look at similar courses that polytechnics teach in the business field, the picture is not great.  I would hate this program to meet the same fate.  Take a look at the national external moderation reports for the NZ Diploma in Business, for example.  Large numbers of organisations fail moderation each year - the assessments are not up to standard, so student achievement has not been validly measured.  A lot of the problems, reading the reports, arise from the assessments being dumbed down to keep pass rates up and funding up, too.  The media are full of reports of problems arising from failures to maintain decent academic standards.


The transition from NZ Diploma in Business to the new qualifications is being managed differently, and students making that transition DO have up to 2020 to complete.  I do not see anything to that effect in Ms Needham's communication. 


I don't know about you, but this program represents a very big investment of time and funds to me, and I don't want to end up with a qualification that will be mistaken for another shonky, dumbed-down NZQA bus-ticket. I would feel a lot more confident that academic standards are being realistically maintained with a strong on-going presence from the NZLS,  including the ultimate expression of confidence by the NZLS itself issuing our diplomas. 


I hope you understand my point of view.  I don't want the course to be harder, but I do want it to be a good preparation for working in a really demanding environment. We need to be able to hit the ground running.


I am not going to invest a lot of time and energy in this, but I wanted to get some discussion going before we all get steam-rollered into a transition nobody has been consulted on or agreed to.  It seemed likely, so I spoke up.


Thanks for your comments and happy studying. That's what we're all here for.



#4 Leanne (OP Admin)

Leanne (OP Admin)


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Posted 23 March 2017 - 03:11 AM

Hi Viola and Lorna

Thanks for your posts on the changes to legal executive studies at Open Polytechnic.

Viola, Jane Needham has received your email with your concerns, and will be following up with you on this.

Our email to students sent on Monday 20th March was to inform students about the changes to legal executive studies that were affecting all institutions across New Zealand. 

Our information from the New Zealand Law Society is at this stage they will not be conducting the examinations for the existing qualification in 2018.  We wanted to ensure our students did have a confirmed pathway to complete a recognised legal executive  qualification, and wanted to assure students that if they didn’t complete their studies this year, they will be able to transfer over to the new qualification. The Law Society does have the capacity to award their qualification until mid 2020 and we understand that this is under consideration. Please contact Dick Edwards from the Law Society on 027 491 4409 if you would like to discuss.

Please be assured we have been working very closely with the New Zealand Law Society on our programme leading to the  new qualification to ensure it meets the same high standards as the existing qualification.



#5 Viola



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Posted 24 March 2017 - 06:58 AM

Hello Leanne,


Thanks for your comments and news about the NZLS's ruminations about this change.  I hope they do adopt the 2020 option and I am interested in the views of other students about that possibility, so hope we get a few more posts.


The Mandatory Review of qualifications has been underway for 6 years to my knowledge and any issues affecting the NZLS Legal Executive Diploma should have been managed long before this. Springing it on people now is just not the way things should be done, nor have they been done that way in other programs.  The NZ Diploma in Business has been transitioning for 2 years already, and that will continue until 2020. It's a fine example that the decision-makers might reflect on in respect of our diploma.


Hearing that the NZLS will not even be the examining body any more worries me.  I hadn't realised that.  Will this mean that the providers do their own assessments and final examinations?  This is a shocking possibility for anyone who has read the reports on NZ Diploma in Business national external moderation, as a high-profile example of rubbery standards.  The statistics are sobering and in some prescriptions 20% to 30% of providers fail moderation.  Presumably this includes some major ITPs.  How are we going to look if this starts to happen on the diploma?  Will we even have moderation so that assessments are consistent nationally? It is obvious to the discerning reader of the NZ Diploma in Business moderation reports that assessments are not of a consistent standard, and some providers must be dumbing assessments down so people who would not pass an assessment at the prescribed NZQA standard (check these for level 5 and 6 on the NZQA website - I have no doubt the OP is pitching things at the right level btw), just sail through.  We have a lot to lose if people with no real skill start graduating with the same diploma. I would feel a lot happier for the NZLS with all its years of accumulated experience in the control of the legal profession, and its high ethical standards, to remain both the examining and issuing body.  I have no confidence in the NZQA's competence to control the education of people entering a regulated professional environment. It has a well-documented propensity to look the other way and let serious issues fester until something catastrophic happens and the weight of public opinion makes them get involved - too late.  The students suffer most. The media are full of stories that record the truth of that observation. I think we continue to need thoughtful, informed professional oversight from our future employers, rather than the occasional dabble from a tower full of side-steppers in Wellington.


It would probably be straightforward for even a mere LE in training to find statutes and cases that establish a basis for action where a party to a relationship offers to deliver a pony after 3 years of buyer's effort and investment, takes your registration fee to seal the deal, and on the due day has an unrelated party deliver a goat. Litigation is probably not the way to go, however. I would much prefer the decision makers reviewed their performance in managing this situation, humbly admit that it has not been done well, and adopt the 2020 option, so we can get through with what we signed up for.  That's the ethical thing to do. They should also be clearly notifying the change to new enrollees, not burying advice about the change in the boiler-plate, if it is there at all. That's the ethical thing to do.


I am interested in the views of the NZILE - are there any members reading this?


Yes, Leanne, I have received Dr Needham's reply to my message and I will be contacting her to request her permission to post it here.


I do not want to be the sole voice on this matter and would love to hear from other people.  Please write to Dr Needham directly, or to the NZLS's Blocked Word Edwards to express your views;  Blocked Word.edwards@lawsociety.org.nz   ...or just post your views here.


Back to the books!

#6 Viola



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Posted 24 March 2017 - 07:10 AM

Can't believe the settings on this thing.  No,I didn't use bad language in my last post.  The name of the NZLS person dealing with this issue also happens to be a vulgarism used to describe a hapless, unaware loser.  It is the diminutive form of Richard; d**k, and sounds like 'sick'. So, if you want to share your views, you should write to Mr Edwards, and his email address is d**k.edwards@lawsociety.org.nz


I hope this gets through!

#7 Viola



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Posted 26 March 2017 - 06:21 PM

Take a look at this link if you think there is no serious issue here. http://www.radionz.c...dge'-of-courses


It provides good support for the proposition that NZQA's oversight may not be that effective when it comes to maintaining good educational standards, valid assessments of student achievement and the reputation of qualifications.  I'm not making this up.


Let me be clear about what I think of my experience with OP so far, so there's no mistake. I am not 'having a go' at OP because the change did not originate there, and I do not want anyone to think I am.  The instruction I received last year was excellent and the course exceeded my expectations in many respects.  Cedric Hunt was a great teacher, and the online materials exemplified the very best standards of instructional design for distance learning.  I gave excellent feedback and I would be surprised if the program evaluations were not overwhelmingly positive from OP students.  I am looking forward to a similarly excellent year in 2017, but I do want to get this transition issue better managed because I never signed up for an NZQA qualification.  Could anyone who did, please put their hand up?


Have a great week.

#8 Viola



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Posted 28 March 2017 - 06:11 PM

I had a nice reply from Mr Edwards of the NZ Law Society and it seems that he and NZLS are doing their best for us to have the 2020 option adopted....but no promises.  An announcement is expected around the middle of the year. I think Mr Edwards and the NZLS should be left to get on with it, but let's keep watching.


Meanwhile, have a look at this link if you think I am making it up about the mayhem that can arise if institutions less principled and less prudently managed than OP is, are just left to their own devices with NZQA's 'oversight'.  http://www.nzherald....jectid=11827075It's about how academics are being pressured to ignore cheating and to pass incompetent students.  

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