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Universities New Zealand is the peak body for New Zealand's eight universities.

We ensure universities deliver high-quality education through robust quality assurance systems; we co-ordinate international education policy; provide sector coordination, inform and influence decision-making, and administer scholarships.

We are a statutory body. Under the Education and Training Act 2020, we have statutory authority for the quality assurance of academic programmes delivered in New Zealand’s universities, and administering scholarships.

The eight university Vice-Chancellors meet on a formal basis six times a year. The current Chair for 2023-24 is Professor Cheryl de la Rey, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Canterbury. The position of Chair rotates every two years.

Universities New Zealand is supported by a small team led by the Chief Executive, Chris Whelan, who is responsible to the Chair and Vice-Chancellors. A team of Portfolio Managers drive work programmes focusing on key sector issues. The work programme is informed by a network of specialist committees and advisory groups, made up of representatives from each university.

We are funded by New Zealand’s eight universities.


Universities New Zealand was established under the Education Act 1961 as the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee. Since 2010 we have operated as Universities New Zealand.

Our Māori name, Te Pōkai Tara, represents a flock of Caspian Terns, the largest species of tern and an inhabitant of New Zealand’s shores, moving together on a journey upwards. It evokes a connection with the source of knowledge and it carries with it a sense of the awakening that university education can provide.

Our visual imagery features eight Caspian Terns, representing each New Zealand university.