The Maori Tertiary Students' Association says student representation on wananga councils may be lost if proposed changes are adopted.
The Government wants to slash university and wananga councils from up to 20 members to between eight and 12. Four members would be appointed by the Government and the institutions themselves would decide how to appoint the remainder.
The tumuaki (principal) of the National Maori Tertiary Students' Association Te Mana Akonga says there will be limited places available under the proposed model and she fears student representatives would be the first to go.
Ivy Harper says the proposed cuts to wananga councils will limit the institutions' flexibility to choose representatives, not increase it.
Ms Harper says if four places are taken up by ministerial appointments, the move would reduce the number and the flexibility of wananga to determine who will be on the councils.
Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce expects wananga will welcome the chance to choose representation that reflects the make-up and stakeholders of the institutions.