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March 24, 2014 | by  | in News |
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CoRE Funding Changes Ignore Core Problems

Four of the seven established Centres of Research Excellence (CoRE) will lose government funding in a decision slammed by the Māori Party.

The CoRE Fund was established in 2001 to encourage high-quality, tertiary-education-based research. The fund allocates $35 million annually through a funding arrangement with the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC). This year’s successful applicants will receive funding until 2020.

Programmes removed from the shortlist for funding this year included the University of Waikato’s Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga, the only Māori CoRE institute, as well as Massey’s Riddet Institute, the University of Auckland’s Gravida National Research Centre and Lincoln University’s Bio-Protection Centre.

Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith, founding co-director of Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga and Pro-Vice Chancellor Māori at Waikato, described the decision as unethical, and said funding had been cut off just as progress was starting to be made.

Pita Sharples, co-leader of the Māori Party, has called for an overhaul of the Government’s funding processes in the wake of the decision. Sharples said the party has “serious misgivings about the process used to assess Centre of Research Excellence proposals.”

Sharples also questioned the makeup of the committee which allocates the funding, saying two of the six members were “professional board members” and only two had “pure science backgrounds.”

“We also question why there are no Māori on the committee, no social scientists on the committee, and indeed why there is only one woman on that committee. That’s hardly a diverse group of people sitting at the top making decisions on behalf of our diverse and culturally rich nation,” Sharples said.

Minister for Science and Innovation Steven Joyce has said the Government is committed to Māori social and cultural issues, noting the Matauranga Capability Fund and other government investment to improve science systems for Māori researchers to use.

Victoria University’s MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology has not been told it will lose CoRE funding. The list of institutes which will receive CoRE funding for the next seven years will be announced at the end of April.


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