The University of Otago has confirmed it could consider imposing caps on the number of Māori admissions to its medical school through a designated entry pathway, but has refused to give any more detail about the option.
RNZ understands a discussion document presented to the Medical Admissions Committee earlier this month by the Division of Health Sciences pro-vice-chancellor and the Medical School dean suggested capping the Māori Entry Pathway to 56 students and the Pacific Entry Pathway to just 20 students.
The pathways currently have no limit, and were designed to boost the number of Māori and Pasifika in the health workforce.
The university has refused to release the discussion document.
Division of Health Sciences pro-vice-chancellor, professor Paul Brunton, said it would be inappropriate to do so.
"We're working on the basis of having a free and frank discussion about possible options we might consider, so it's not appropriate to share details more widely at this stage," he said.
"Some of the possible options being considered include how we might approach the implementation of our mirror on society policy."
Brunton confirmed the discussion document did include a suggestion to cap the Māori Entry Pathway to 56 students and the Pacific Entry Pathway to just 20 students.
But he wouldn't say how he and the Medical School dean arrived at those numbers.
"Our Mirror on Society policy that we have at the Division of Health Sciences is where we want a health workforce that's representative of the community that they will serve when they are practising... It's an interpretation of how we mirror society within our admissions processes so that is a possible way that we might think of doing it," he said.
"This is just something that is there to prompt discussion as we review our Mirror on Society Policy."
The discussion document has prompted concern among student body presidents who say the proposed caps are not enough to transform a predominantly Pākehā health workforce.
Brunton said they had no reason to be concerned as no formal proposal had been brought forward.
"I don't want any of our students to be concerned about anything at this stage. There will be no changes to the admissions process this year and we've made that absolutely clear," he said.
"We're actually only thinking about possible changes we might include from next year onwards so we haven't made any decisions to make any change. In our communications I've been very keen to stress to our students that they shouldn't be anxious about this because at the moment, as I say, we're not suggesting any change to the current way we implement the Mirror on Society Policy."