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Lincoln University ranked second

Lincoln University ranked second

Lincoln University will win 6.5 percent more Government funding for research this year under the Performance Based Research Fund (PBRF) formula than in 2003, making it the second highest percentage increase “winner” among the eight universities, and second only to Otago.

By comparison, Auckland University’s increase is 4.3 percent and Canterbury’s 2.1 percent.

“Doing well in the allocation of Government research funding is the real issue for the universities in the PBRF exercise, and in that respect Lincoln is pleased with the result,” says the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Field.

“Government funding for research is the real import of the PBRF rankings released by the Tertiary Education Commission on Thursday night. They are a research funding table, not an across-the-board league table of institutional quality.

“It is important that the public of New Zealand, as the principal stakeholders in our universities, understand this point.

“The formula used to arrive at the PBRF determinations is a complex one, but Lincoln University achieved a quality score virtually identical with the overall tertiary sector average, another result we are pleased with.”

Twenty-two tertiary institutions took part in this first PBRF determination and relatively high quality scores were achieved by subject areas within the biological and physical sciences, traditional areas for Lincoln.

“Lincoln University has a long record of academic research in these areas that is typically focused on relevance to industry needs and applied to current problems and issues,” says Professor Field.

“Contributions to the research needs of the New Zealand economy characterise much of the work at Lincoln University. The PBRF results demonstrate this point with good performances by Lincoln in the Nominated Academic Units of Agriculture and Primary Products, Food and Health, Biological Sciences and Environment and Natural Resources.

“Lincoln University is good at transferring basic research into relevant application. Our work has always had national relevance and has always been linked to matters of national importance related to the economic, social and environmental goals of New Zealand.

“This is recognised in the PBRF tables by our ranking at Number 3 out of the eight universities for External Research Income, per fulltime equivalent staff member.”

The External Research Income (ERI) measure accounts for 15 percent of the total funds to be allocated through the PBRF each year. Its inclusion as a performance indicator in the PBRF was based on the judgement that it provides a good proxy for research quality. The underlying assumption is that external researchers are discriminating in their choice of whom to fund.

“Lincoln is particularly pleased to be ranked third in the country in this category,” says Professor Field. “In dollar terms our ERI per fulltime equivalent staff member is almost double that of, for example, Canterbury University, and only a shade behind Otago, which shows we are achieving very competitively in this respect.”

The PBRF determinations are heavily weighted towards performances in “pure research”, the discovery and creation of knowledge, as opposed to “applied research”, the application of existing knowledge.

“While not suggesting that there is no involvement in basic, pure research at Lincoln, the emphasis is definitely on the applied,” says Professor Field.

“It is this emphasis that has informed agriculture for over one hundred years and is contributing to the current broader needs of biotechnology, economics, commerce, environmental science, resource management, landscape architecture, recreation management, tourism, the social sciences and many other disciplines.

“In terms of the overall PBRF determinations, we need to ask whether the process treats applied research - which is very relevant in the Lincoln context - appropriately.

“Whether PBRF gives full and appropriate recognition to applied disciplines is an open question, but worthy of challenge,” says Professor Field.

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