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Profile of Universities New Zealand

22 January 2016


This is a profile of Universities New Zealand.  We're the peak body for New Zealand’s eight universities, representing their collective views and interests, nationally and internationally.


Universities New Zealand - Te Pōkai Tara is a statutory body established under the Education Act 1961 as the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee.
The Education Amendment Act 1990 gave us statutory responsibility for university quality assurance matters and the administration of scholarships.
Since 2010 we have operated as Universities New Zealand.

Our organisation

Today we’re a peak body promoting the collective views and interests of New Zealand’s eight universities, represented by their Vice-Chancellors.

The Vice-Chancellors are led by a Chair and Deputy Chair. These positions rotate amongst Vice-Chancellors every two years.
Vice-Chancellors meet bi-monthly, supported by Universities New Zealand staff. University Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors also meet formally during the year.

Universities New Zealand has a small team led by the Executive Director and responsible to the Chair and Vice-Chancellors. Our Portfolio Managers drive work programmes focusing on key sector issues.

Our focus

1. To maintain a high quality tertiary education system that benefits New Zealand and New Zealanders.  Investment in universities is critical to ensure they can continue to deliver high-quality education.

2. To produce well-educated graduates, and to ensure they have the skills to prepare them for their future life and careers, and meet employers’ skills needs.  Universities work closely with industry and employers to ensure universities deliver the technical and soft skills that graduates and employers need. A key focus is to lift participation rates for Māori and Pasifika.

3. To increase understanding of the economic impact and contribution that universities and university research make, both regionally and nationally.  Universities are the engine rooms of New Zealand and are critical to the future growth of New Zealand.

4. To continue to contribute to New Zealand’s GDP through export education earnings.  We support the government’s goal to double the value of international education by 2025.

5. To contribute to tertiary sector strategy and policy to help inform decision-making.  We contribute a sector-wide position on key issues to ensure universities can continue to make a positive and significant contribution to New Zealand.

Our key functions

- Ensure academic quality assurance
We have statutory responsibility for quality assurance in the university sector to ensure academic programmes and qualifications are relevant, of the highest quality, and respected internationally. We also make recommendations to NZQA on criteria for University Entrance.

- Co-ordinate international education policy
We contribute to international policy and ensure international education initiatives are well coordinated within New Zealand. We work with other governments and international research agencies to create new, and strengthen existing, agreements.

- Provide sector coordination
Through our committees, made up of representatives from each university, we contribute a sector-wide approach to government policy and decision-making; share information and best practice; and facilitate planning and collaboration. The committees cover the following areas: Academic quality, Facilities, HR, International Policy, IT, Libraries, Māori achievement, Planning, Research, Scholarships, and Student administration and academic services.

- Inform and influence decision-making
We work with other organisations and sectors to support informed decision-making, and to increase awareness of the significant role universities play in New Zealand’s economic growth and social well-being.

- Administer scholarships
We administer over 40 undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships, valued at over $2 million per annum.

Contact us E: T: +64 (04) 381 8500; W:; @universitiesnz

Last modified: April 6th, 2017