Universities NZ – Te Pōkai Tara, which is made up of NZ’s eight universities vice-chancellors, has welcomed the increased numbers of secondary school students achieving NCEA Level 2.

However, it continues to be concerned over at the significant disparity between Māori and Pasifika achievement rates, compared with those of Pakeha and Asian students.

The final 2016 NCEA data released recently by education minister Hekia Parata shows roll-based achievement of University Entrance now sits at 49.2 percent.

The data shows only 31.4 percent of Māori and 30.7 percent of Pasifika students are achieving University Entrance, compared with 57.8 percent of NZ European and 66.5 percent of Asian students.

Executive director of Universities NZ Chris Whelan says it means a significant proportion of Māori and Pasifika do not have the opportunity to take on university education, with the significant benefits that it brings to them and their families, and to the nation as a whole.

“This continued disparity in achievement rates must be of concern to government, the education sector and to all New Zealanders,” Whelan says.

“Universities remain committed to working with the Ministry of Education and schools to support work to help increase numbers of Māori and Pasifika who achieve University Entrance.”

Meanwhile, the data released by Minister Parata confirms more students are achieving NCEA Levels 1, 2, and 3, with the most significant increases in achievement being by Māori students and Pasifika students.

The final results for 2016 show that Year 12 NCEA Level 2 achievement by Māori students has increased from 51.6 percent in 2008 to 74.9 percent, and achievement by Pasifika students increased from 50.5 percent to 79.5 percent.

Across the board, data shows achievement is up, according to Minister Parata.

In Year 11 NCEA Level 1 is 75.5 percent, up from 62.5 percent in 2008; Year 12 NCEA Level 2 achievement is 78.4 percent, up two percentage points on last year and 12 percentage points since 2008.

Year 13 NCEA Level 3 achievement is 64.5 per cent, up from 53.4 percent in 2008, and achievement of the University Entrance Award since its strengthening is up 0.6 percent to 49.2 percent.