A Pacific academic at Auckland University says social and economic issues affecting Pacific students need to be addressed in order to lift achievement rates at tertiary level.
Damon Salesa says achievement rates for Pacific students have failed to increase, despite the growing number of Pacific students at tertiary level.
Government figures show a higher proportion of Pacific people studying at tertiary level compared to the general population.
Professor Salesa says the education ministry has been responsive to the needs of Pacific students but factors outside the classroom mean achievement rates haven't changed.
He says the government needs to give the students more support.
"They're facing not just educational challenges but social challenges. They're coming from poorer households. They're coming from less healthy households. They're overcrowded. So I think, for many of the issues we're facing, they can't just be solved in the classrooms."