Leading American universities including Caltech and New York University are recruiting students in Auckland on Saturday.
It is only the second time American institutions have run a recruitment fair in New Zealand. The fair will include Caltech, which boasts 32 Nobel Prize winners among its lecturers and alumni, New York University and UCLA.
Some have tuition fees as high as $55,000 dollars a year but they also have many scholarships.
University of Auckland vice-chancellor Stuart McCutcheon said New Zealand universities were at a severe disadvantage in the international competition for good students. He said universities around the world were keen to enrol the very best students, but New Zealand universities were hamstrung.
"We are seriously hamstrung in our ability to compete with these universities because our resourcing levels by international standards are very low. Our ability to charge for a quality product domestically, which is our main source of revenue, is low and that disadvantages us in these international competitions."
Professor McCutcheon said Australian universities were also recruiting in New Zealand.