Equity Funding

Who applies? ITPs, PTEs, Universities, Wānanga Fund focus: Learner focus, Domestic students, Students with disabilities, Pacific students, Maori
Status: Ongoing Agreed through? Investment Plan (on Plan)

Equity Funding is a Government contribution to help improve access to tertiary education and the achievement of Māori students, Pasifika students, and students with disabilities.

Research shows that these three groups experience clear disadvantages within the tertiary education system. 

One of the objectives of the Education Act 1989 is to encourage a tertiary education system that fosters equity of access for all learners. Improving access to tertiary education and the achievement of all learners is a core part of the tertiary sector’s contribution to the educational priorities outlined in the Tertiary Education Strategy.  Tertiary education organisations (TEOs) can contribute by responding to the diverse needs and aspirations of students of all ethnicities, genders, ages, and socio-economic backgrounds.

The purpose of funding

The purpose of Equity Funding for Māori and Pasifika students is to improve participation in, and achievement at, higher levels of the tertiary education system at levels 5 and above on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.

The purpose of Equity Funding for students with disabilities is to improve participation in tertiary education and achievement of qualifications.

Equity Funding is not intended to be the sole or primary source of funding used to support Māori or Pasifika students, or students with disabilities. It is a ‘top-up’ to Student Achievement Component (SAC) funding.  It recognises the higher costs that can be associated with providing extra support for those students.


The funding mechanism for Equity Funding outlines the general form and essential components of how funding is to be administered and provides the mandate for the TEC to allocate that funding. This is determined by the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment under section 159L of the Education Act 1989 to support the achievement of government policy and the Tertiary Education Strategy (TES).

A TEO that receives Equity Funding is required to:

Changes for 2016

TEIs receiving Equity Funding for students with disabilities are required to complete an annual template on the ways in which they use the funding. The new template is available on the Monitoring and Reporting tab.


The Government’s and the sector’s expectations about the types of support available to students are set out in:

Practical information for improving student success can be found at Ako Aotearoa's Resource Centre.

  • Last changed: 8 June 2016
  • Last verified: 8 June 2016