The Qualifications Authority has confirmed it will review the causes of the surprise drop in the number of students achieving University Entrance this year.
Only 58 percent of last year's Year 13 students got UE, down from 70 percent in 2013.
The fall means about 4,400 fewer school leavers have the award and follows changes to UE, including a requirement that students get credits from at least three approved subjects.
Deputy chief executive of the Qualifications Authority, Richard Thornton, told Radio New Zealand there would be a review by universities, the ministry and the Qualifications Authority.
"One to make sure there is understanding of it, that the three buckets system is fit for purpose, and to make sure that no student is being disadvantaged," he said.
Mr Thornton said organisations including NZQA would try to help those students who had not met the new requirements.
But principals spoken to by Radio New Zealand said that was not realistic.
Rangitoto College principal, David Hodge, said schools cannot organise catch-up courses.
"We follow a very rigid and rigorous teaching and assessment structure, and the idea that a student could come back and in three or four weeks do a catch up course that had been organised on the spot as it were - they're in dreamland."
Mr Hodge said the new rules for UE had been clearly explained to students.
Director of Universities New Zealand Chris Whelan said many students applying to university this year had failed to meet the new University Entrance requirements.
Universities, he said, are dealing with roughly double the number of applications from students without UE and one has reported 400 applications from students without UE - up from 200 last year.