International students have revealed the pressure they are under to succeed after a 1 NEWS investigation found some are employing ghostwriters to write their essays.
One student claimed as many as half of the international students at Auckland University do it.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins called them very serious allegations and says the credibility of our universities rests on them having the highest possible standards.
The Tertiary Education Union blames the commercialisation of education for the problem and is calling for a nationally coordinated response.
"When you commercialise education, you treat the student as a customer and it creates a culture I think which students feel they almost have a right to purchase essays to gain the qualification they've paid for," TEU National President Michael Gilchrist says.
International students pay up to six times more than Kiwis do to study here.
Students who have spoken to 1 NEWS say there is a lot of pressure to succeed and go home with a qualification.
Some struggle with language barriers and say that although language help is available, developing language skills can take time making it harder to finish their assignments by their due dates.
International students are required to demonstrate proficiency in the English language before they can study at universities in New Zealand, but one student says they'd like to see more writing tutorials or workshops that teach students to write appropriate essays.
New Zealand universities have programmes for students stressing the importance of academic integrity but are working hard to create greater pastoral care for international students.
"I think it’s meaningless to get the degree if you pass the paper by buying essays, because you have learned nothing," one student said.