The NZ Qualifications Authority is embarking on a NZ$6.5 million IT systems upgrade that includes implementing sophisticated services via the web.
The upgrade for NZQA is part of a NZ$78 milllion, four-year effort to allow the authority to better administer the NCEA qualification, the successor to School Certificate, Sixth Form Certificate and Bursary.
It involves web-enabling the NZQA by way of new software, services and hardware, mainly servers. The NZ$6.5 million has been granted for the 2003-4 financial year and the IT upgrade is being carried out under the banner of e.QA, the authority's electronic strategy.
Two early examples of what is to come are already up and running, in the form of online services launched last month that allow schools and the public to access 2002 statistics and students to check their personal details.
E.QA has been started, spokeswoman Jocasta Whittingham says, because the authority's existing information systems are up to 12 years old and are struggling to meet the increased demands being placed on them.
"Where packages are available that meet our requirements, they are being investigated, but a number of the core systems are being redeveloped."
The latter include SPER, the student entry and results processing system; Exam, the exam preparation, administration and assessment application; and Contacts, the system for managing details of NZQA contractors, providers and partners. All were developed in the Zim environment.
Among the new systems to be developed are Qualifications, to manage qualifications and standards; The Register, to be "an authoritative public register" of all quality assured qualifications in New Zealand; and Accreditation, which will manage the registration, approval and ongoing audit of organisations requiring NZQA accreditation.
"They will automate parts of the business process that have been largely manual to date."
NZQA says it will continue the development of web services which provide an audience-specific window of the core business systems.
The $6.5 million will not be used to upgrade or replace off-the-shelf applications such as operating systems, office automation and infrastructure utilities.