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April 15, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Students at Victoria can truly claim to be getting amongst the best, with the University confirmed as New Zealand’s most research-intensive last week.

The latest quality evaluation of the Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) shows that Victoria is the highest-ranked in New Zealand for research quality. As a result, the University will see an increase in PBRF-based funding.

Victoria has 678 staff actively involved in research. Of these, 70 per cent are rated A or B, the two highest levels of quality. In addition, Victoria ranks first or second in 24 subject areas, an increase from 11 in 2006.

The first PBRF quality evaluation took place in 2003; Victoria ranked fifth. At the most recent evaluation in 2006, Victoria ranked fourth behind Otago, Auckland and Canterbury universities. In 2013, Auckland, Otago and Canterbury ranked second to fourth respectively. Evaluations are intended to take place every six years.

In 2009, the University Council looked to improve research quality. Goal One of the University’s Strategic Plan is to dramatically improve research performance, a goal which concerns every staff member and which will be achieved through staff development.

“… Staff have been very focused on achieving this. That commitment has certainly paid off and we are very proud of what we have accomplished,” said Vice-Chancellor Pat Walsh.

Salient spoke to Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Research) Charles Daugherty, who emphasised the role of academic and non-academic staff alike in supporting each other with research objectives.

“The only way we could have achieved this result is by everyone working towards it,” said Daugherty.

“There was across the board improvement [since 2006] and some of it was quite extraordinary.”

Tertiary Education Commission Chief Executive Tim Fowler believes that the results benefit more than just the University’s bottom line.

“This result is … good news for students, as research plays an important role in supporting teaching, especially at the postgraduate level,” says Mr Fowler.

Daugherty also drew a strong link between research quality and teaching, with the former improving the latter, given the role it has in creating new knowledge.

The full report can be found at


Victoria came top in:

– Biomedical
– Chemistry
– Communications, Journalism and Media Studies
– Computer Science, Information Technology, Information Sciences
– Design
– Earth Sciences
– Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour
– Economics
– English Language and Literature
– History, History of Art, Classics and Curatorial Studies
– Human Geography
– Music, Literary Arts and Other Arts
– Physics
– Political Science, International Relations and Public Policy
– Psychology
– Sociology, Social Policy, Social Work,
– Criminology & Gender Studies
– Theatre and Dance, Film, Television and Multimedia.


What is the PBRF?

The Performance-Based Research Fund, or PBRF, was introduced by the last Labour Government as a response to the previous ‘bums-on-seats’ approach to tertiary-education funding. It incentivises universities to focus on research. Based on certain indicators, universities are ranked and given a corresponding level of Government funding.

The current value of the fund is approximately $250 million per year, which will rise to $300 million per year in 2016. The share each institution receives is based on three measures: quality evaluation (60 per cent), research-degree completions (25 per cent), and external research funding (15 per cent). PBRF funding makes up 15 per cent of total Government funding to universities. Quality evaluations are undertaken every six years, and research degrees completions and external research income averages taken every three years. Universities have been known to ‘work the system’, responding to incentives within the rules using staffing contracts.

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