The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) has today published the interim results of the 2018 Quality Evaluation, a major component of the Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF), worth $315 million per year.

The Quality Evaluation is one of the country’s biggest research assessments and equates to approximately 55 percent of the PBRF, totalling over $1 billion for a six year period. It assesses the research performance of staff at participating tertiary education organisations.

More than half of the researcher portfolios submitted to the 2018 Quality Evaluation were awarded an A or B quality category, the two highest categories possible. An A quality category suggests a researcher’s portfolio is of a world-class standard and a quality category B means a researcher’s portfolio is of a high quality. Compared with the 2012 Quality Evaluation, the number of As awarded increased by nearly 40 percent and the number of Bs increased by 17.5 percent.

The 2018 Quality Evaluation saw greater gender parity, with women making up nearly 43 percent of researchers, up from approximately 39 percent in 2012. This round also saw a 33 percent jump in the number of tertiary education organisations that participated.

Among those participating was New Zealand’s youngest university, AUT. The number of Category A researchers at AUT has risen from 20 in 2012 to 50 in 2018.

“We are also pleased to have 133 new and emerging researchers at AUT – an increase of 32%,” said Vice-Chancellor Derek McCormack.

Chief Executive of the Tertiary Education Commission Tim Fowler congratulated all participating tertiary education organisations and their staff.

“I would also like to acknowledge the hard work of the moderators and 263 peer reviewers who assessed over 8,000 researcher portfolios.

“Research carried out by the tertiary education sector contributes to our social and economic wellbeing. These are great results for our researchers and tertiary education organisations. Quality research gives us a better understanding of the world around us and helps us shape solutions to domestic and global issues.”

Subjects with the greatest increase in total funded Quality Categories were in the areas of biomedical, nursing, and engineering and technology. The increase in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects over the last six years supports wider government priorities in science, research and innovation.

The 2018 Quality Evaluation was the fourth round to be held. Previous Quality Evaluation rounds were held in 2003, 2006 and 2012.

Following the release of the interim results there is a complaints process for tertiary education organisations. Once the complaints process has been completed, the TEC will publish a final report on the 2018 Quality Evaluation and funding allocations.

The periodic review of the PBRF is scheduled to begin mid-2019. It will examine the ways that the government can continue to support research excellence by improving the effectiveness and efficiency of PBRF settings and ensuring that it delivers solid outcomes for learners, businesses, communities and New Zealand as a nation.


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