Chapter 1: Overview


Fund background

1.1The Tertiary Education Commission Te Amorangi Mātauranga Matua (TEC) manages the PBRF which has the primary goal of encouraging and rewarding excellent research in New Zealand’s tertiary education sector. This involves assessing the quality of research carried out by New Zealand-based degree-granting TEOs – and their wholly-owned subsidiaries – and funding them on the basis of their research performance.

1.2The PBRF considers the quality of research carried out by researchers working at participating TEOs, rather than the quantity of research outputs or the particular nature of the research as such. The purpose of the PBRF is not to provide funding for research projects, but to reward research excellence and support TEOs to provide an environment that produces high quality research. One of the key reasons for taking this approach is to ensure that degree and postgraduate-level teaching is underpinned by high quality research activities.

1.3The PBRF has grown since its introduction in 2003 to $250 million per year in 2012.1 The original funding that allowed for the creation of the PBRF came from existing Vote Education research funding paid as a top-up to Student Component Funding to support the delivery of postgraduate courses. A decision was made through Budget 2012 to increase the fund to $300 million per annum by 2016.


1.4In 2011 and 2012, A total of 27 TEOs participated in the measures that form the PBRF. These participants include all eight of New Zealand’s universities; ten of the 17 eligible institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs); two of the three eligible wānanga; and seven of the 17 eligible private training establishments (PTEs).


1.5The PBRF has three components:

1.6In the PBRF funding formulae, these three components are weighted 60 percent, 25 percent, and 15 percent respectively.

1.7For each of the components, a provider’s share of funding is determined by its performance relative to other participating TEOs. QEs were held in 2003, 2006, and 2012. The 2006 evaluation set TEOs’ QE ratios until the end of 2012, with the 2012 evaluation then setting ratios for 2013 onwards. The RDC and ERI measures are calculated annually using weighted three-year rolling averages.

The 2012 Quality Evaluation and beyondTop

1.8The results of the 2012 QE were published in October 2013. The report shows an overall increase in research quality, with 15.8 percent growth in the number of funded evidence portfolios (up by 861.81) on 2006 levels and proportionally more PBRF-eligible staff assigned an “A” or a “B” – 53.3 percent in 2012, compared with 48.9 percent in 2006. Detailed analysis of results can be found on the TEC website.2
1.9The PBRF was reviewed following both the 2003 and 2006 QE rounds. A further review, undertaken by the Ministry of Education, concluded in September 2013 and included findings on the extent to which the PBRF has achieved its longer-term aims. Recommendations were made to Cabinet and these were agreed in February 2014. Further information can be found on the Ministry of Education’s website.3 A Sector Reference Group has been convened to provide advice on the 2018 QE.