Cambridge exam system under spotlight as prestigious schools called to meeting.

The country's largest university has called a meeting with prestigious colleges using an alternative exam system amid concerns too many students are unprepared for degree-level study.

Auckland University will meet top schools tomorrow, including King's College and St Peter's College, about the Cambridge exams system.

Auckland Grammar School last year put most students on Cambridge exams, saying the international system outperformed NCEA.

But it is understood Auckland University has found that younger Year 12 students who gained a place with Cambridge exams have struggled.


A spokeswoman said the meeting would cover proposed changes for 2014 as the university sought to align the entry bars for different systems.

It needed to be able to specify requirements for each on an "equitable basis", she said.

St Peter's College principal Kieran Fouhy said it was right for universities to only take on students who could handle the work.

He discouraged students from going to university after Year 12 even if they had met entry requirements.

"High school is a time to work out what you don't want, what you do want and it's about doing a whole lot of things in your life, like music, sport and drama," he said.

The minimum requirements for university entry in New Zealand include 120 Cambridge points. This can be attained with two "A" marks in Year 12 AS-level courses.

Mr Fouhy said the university may increase its entry requirements to ration places in selected courses.

He envisaged the entrance requirements would inch up, but they needed to be careful about placing "excellence over equity".

King's College principal Bradley Fenner said there was a discussion earlier this year about changing entry requirements for next year, but the date was pushed out to 2014 after schools requested more consultation.

Sherida Penman Walters, executive principal at Pinehurst School, which teaches the Cambridge system exclusively, said most students far exceeded university requirements.

She believed the meeting tomorrow would be further consultation about the entry numbers for selected courses.

The systems
NCEA: NZ standard used by most high school students.
Cambridge: A exam-based system developed at the UK's Cambridge University and offered by more than 50 NZ schools.
International Baccalaureate: A complete curriculum used by about 750,000 students worldwide and available at about 10 NZ high schools.