How to fix the clunky design of the NZQA Annual Fees Return Form AF01

If you are tertiary training provider in New Zealand you have to complete various compliance exercises each year to maintain registration with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

clunky soup final

While I’m generally happy with my interactions with the NZQA. I do think however, that the AF01 form is horribly clunky, needs to urgently change and I’d like to make these suggestions:

  1. The AF01 form should be an online form. These days I expect this kind of paperwork to be semi-automated.
  2. Data and information that NZQA already holds on my organisation and me could be used to prepopulate many of the basic fields in an online form, e.g. MOE#, name of provider, contact person details etc.
  3. It seems crazy to ask me to download and use a word document and two separate spreadsheets, and then print, sign, and scan the final hardcopy of the word document, and then upload multiple documents to email and send (or post or fax). This is too many steps, using too many separate software applications, and just generally bad design given the options available online now. NZQA should design a web-based form to conduct the simple calculations for credit value and learning hours online either as part of the main form or as calculators that open in separate windows.
  4. Likewise, it’s not efficient to use a word document as a collection point for the info that has to go in the various boxes. Even if they didn’t use a web-based online form to efficiently capture all of this information NZQA should at least automate the simple addition involved to get the estimated fee required in box G.
  5. Also, if they moved to a completely online version of this form they will need to have an alternative to the signature box. I suggest that the person authorised to complete this form already has a high level clearance from ESAA so all you need is a digital attestation that they are who they say they are. Access to the online version should only be accessed behind the ESAA security wall in any case. So the right person would already be authorised and signed in to access it, complete it, and upload anything (if needed).

Not only would this speed things up for providers, it would make NZQA’s own administration work much more efficient as they would not have a mishmash of different formats coming in (scans, emails, posted copies, faxed copies) and the data entry would already be done.

I also think that there is a seriously confusing transition between Section 2 and Section 3. The worksheet calculators are available for Section 3 for “Non Funded Providers” but not for Section 2 “Funded Providers”.

This gives the impression that providers with funding just automatically know their EFTS value. I’d like to suggest that this is not  aways the case. I know how to calculate the EFTS value for my two funded courses (one with credit value and one with learning hours), but I think that this will cause multiple headaches for some people trying to figure out how to fill in this form when they assume the spreadsheets only apply to “Non funded students” in the following section.

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

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