Equity FAQs


What is "equity"?

“Equity” means fairness and justice. The Equity Office - Te Ara Tautika leads the University of Auckland’s commitment to be a fair and inclusive place to study and work.

Equity does not mean one size fits all.

Why is the University committed to equity?

How does the University achieve equity?

How do we know we are succeeding in achieving equity?

What does the Equity Office do?

Our priorities are to increase recruitment, retention and success of Māori and equity groups, and to support an inclusive work and study environment. These activities help enhance opportunities for success among Māori, as well as for women, Pacific, people with disabilities and other equity groups. We offer academic, pastoral and career guidance, and we host events including the annual Māori & Pacific Welcome, STEAM Ahead and BEAMS (on-campus recruitment events for senior Māori and Pacific students), and the Māori & Pacific Finance Evening.

Why does the University refer to “Māori” separately from “equity groups”?

Māori people have status as tangata whenua outside of equity group status. In addition, the University has specific responsibilities to address Māori educational and employment equity.

Who are the University’s equity groups?

The University prioritises equity groups including:

  • Pacific students and staff
  • Staff and students with disabilities
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (LGBTI) students and staff
  • Students and staff from refugee backgrounds (SSRB)
  • Students from low socio-economic backgrounds (low SEB)
  • Men or women where there are barriers to access and success

Equity groups and their members are identified by a number of factors including:

  • How they are defined by law
  • Whether they are under-represented in proportion to the wider community
  • Whether they are disadvantaged in their ability to reach their potential
  • If certain barriers need to be removed in order to improve their ability to succeed

Read the University’s Equity Policy

What can I do if I experience racism, sexism, ageism, ableism or any other “unacceptable isms” at the University?

As well as being damaging, such “isms” have no place in our University. There are a number of ways the University can support anyone who experiences or witnesses any form of discrimination. Information is available at:

Read the Vice-Chancellor’s full statement about unacceptable isms here

What is the University's position on academic freedom and responsibility?

Although the Education Act 1989 requires universities to “accept a role as critic and conscience of society” (section 162(4)(a)(v), the issue of what academic staff and students may or may not say is often a vexed one. Expressions of particular views by members of the University occasionally lead to complaints that those views are “unreasonable” or “hurtful to others”. Read more in the document below.

Why do policies matter?

Policies link University strategy to its day-to-day operations. They enable staff and students (and others) to have common understandings about their roles, responsibilities and entitlements. They assist decision-making and provide parameters for expectations about processes and procedures. They also help guard against the risk of breaching regulations and legislation.

What are “Special Conditions” for tests and exams?

Special Conditions support students with an impairment to achieve their academic potential. Students applying for Special Conditions must have medical proof of their condition or impairment. Read more here

Why can’t we just use merit to decide who gets in to University?

We do. “Merit” is not just about “achievement” but also recognising the potential to succeed. Applications for enrolment are assessed through marks already gained and consideration of factors beyond the individual’s control that may have been a barrier to their ability to fully achieve (eg, low socio-economic status, limited access to support while studying, mental or physical disability).

How does the University’s commitment to equity help me if I’m not a member of an equity group?

A fundamental commitment to fairness benefits everyone. Nearly everyone, at some stage of their lives, will benefit from equity. For example, some people may develop a disability (temporary or permanent) or need to care for a family member.

What is Tuākana?

The Tuākana Learning Community is a University-wide tutoring and mentoring programme to help Māori and Pacific students achieve the best possible grades through tutorials, workshops and study groups led by student mentors (tuākana). Tuākana students also have opportunities to connect with potential employers and an established cohort of students and staff to support them in achieving their goals. Most Māori and Pacific students at the University of Auckland engage with Tuākana. Our research shows that students who engage with Tuākana are more likely to not only maintain their grades but improve them. Read more about Tuākana

How does the University support international students?

In addition to the wide range of services and facilities available to all our students, the University offers specialised support services, including dedicated student advisers, for international students through our International Office. Read more here

What kind of support does the University offer LGBTI students and staff?

The University of Auckland’s Equity Policy includes Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex students and staff (LGBTI) as an equity group. This forms part of the University’s commitment to supporting all those who have the potential to succeed here. Read about the LGBTI Student and Staff Network and other initiatives

What kind of support does the University offer students and staff from refugee backgrounds?

The University of Auckland’s Equity Policy includes Students and Staff from Refugee Backgrounds (S&SRB) as an equity group. This forms part of the University’s commitment to supporting all who have the potential to succeed here. Read about the range of initiatives to support students and staff from refugee backgrounds

What kind of support does the University offer students from low socio-economic backgrounds?

The University of Auckland’s Equity Policy includes Students and Staff from Refugee Backgrounds (S&SRB) as an equity group. This forms part of the University’s commitment to supporting all who have the potential to succeed here. Read about the range of initiatives to support students from low socio-economic backgrounds

Please email us if you have any questions that you would like to be added to our FAQs: equity@auckland.ac.nz

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