The union representing students is calling on all universities to ensure that new enrolment criteria are transparent and unbiased.
The Union of Student Associations made the call after universities announced new admission schemes under which scores of "underperforming" students could be kicked out - and many secondary-school students planning to go to university refused admission altogether.
The move has been driven by a government-imposed cap on funding at a time when student numbers are going up.
Union vice-president Pene Delaney describes the plan as unfair and is calling on the Government to increase the universities' budgets.
Mr Delaney says the action will have a big impact on many students and universities must now take extra measures to ensure fairness in selection.
Tougher selection criteria 'unavoidable'
Massey University's vice-chancellor, Steve Maharey, says the institution is aware of the dangers and will do its best to ensure fairness for all.
But it has no choice other than to apply tougher selection criteria, he says.
Mr Maharey says that as well as all current students, the move will affect first-time enrollers, with those who did well in school exams more likely to be get in.
The Auckland University of Technology's vice-chancellor, Derek McCormack, says it's adopting a similar approach, but its primary focus will be on new enrolments.