Education leaders are unhappy with the big drop in the number of Maori and Pasifika students getting University Entrance (UE).
Only a third of last year's Maori and Pasifika Year 13 students got the qualification, down from half the previous year.
COMET Education Trust chief executive Susan Warren said poor UE results would worsen the under-representation of Maori and Pasifika students at universities.
"We've already got not enough Maori and Pasifika kids coming through to university. This is going to make that worse.
"We're missing out on young people who could have gone through and got higher paying jobs than perhaps they will now.
"We're also probably going to have a lot of young people having to do a foundation year. That's an extra cost for them, and that's an extra cost for the country."
But Education Minister Hekia Parata said it was better for students to find out they were not ready for university before they got there and got student loans.