The Tertiary Education Commission of New Zealand says it is lifting its game in order to boost the achievement rates of Maori and Pasifika students.
The commission says achievement rates have barely changed despite targeted funding over the last 15 years.
The deputy chief executive Gus Gilmore says the commission is changing funding for bridging programmes and plans to engage more effectively with Pasifika communities, especially in Auckland, where two thirds of the country's Pacific population live.
The chair of the Association of Pasifika Staff in Tertiary Education, Tapeni Fa'alogo, says achievement rates haven't changed because many Maori and Pasifika students face economic disadvantages that affect their study.
Mr Fa'alogo says government policy isn't flexible enough to consider some of those disadvantages when calculating student allowances.