Enrolling at the University of Auckland is to become more difficult.
In 2016 New Zealand's biggest university will more than double NCEA English requirements for undergraduate courses.
Currently students need eight credits at level 2 or higher to gain a university entrance. That will increase to 17 credits.
University deputy vice-chancellor John Morrow told Nine to Noon programme the English skills of many students are lacking.
"They're not able to write consistent coherent sentences, which meet grammatical requirements, and to build on those sentences in order to produce coherent paragraphs."
He said that lack of skill hampers students' ability to produce academic reports.
Professor Morrow said students who do not get enough English credits can still enrol if they take extra English classes.
However a careers advisor worries that lifting requirements in English will limit students' subject choices.
Head of careers at Auckland's Western Springs College Kay Wallace said some students will have to repeat Level 2 English to get sufficient credits.
She says some students find studying literature irrelevant if they know they want to study something else.
Ms Wallace says international students will be hit the hardest by the changes.