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Research Funds Increase Modest

Media Release 23 May 2008
Research Funds Increase Modest

Budget increases in research funds of interest to universities have been described as modest by their peak body, the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee.

Research, Science and Technology Minister Pete Hodgson announced an additional $205 million would be provided over four years, with $37 million made available in 2008/09.

“While some of the increases are the largest in recent years, the effect on the universities will be small as significant amounts will be difficult for these institutions to access,” Professor David Skegg, chair of the NZVCC Research Committee, says.

“Recent proposals to increase the level of negotiated funding and Budget moves to earmark funds for national databases and long-term, outcome-based investment funding, reduce the size of the contestable pool.

“These developments should be viewed in the context of universities remaining the largest providers of research in New Zealand and will limit their ability to contribute to the Government’s innovation and economic transformation agenda.”

Professor Skegg said the additional $4 million a year boost for health research, along with a further $2 million for diabetes and obesity research, were welcome moves but a further $2 million for the Marsden Fund in 2008/09 would barely keep up with inflation. Such limited funding for basic research meant that currently more than 90 per cent of Marsden applications were unsuccessful.

“New funds for high-technology platforms and energy research are positive developments. On the other hand, universities have limited access to the three main output classes administered by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology which received reasonable boosts.

“With regard to the Budget provisions affecting tertiary education, there is confirmation that the Performance-Based Research Fund should grow to the target of $250 million by 2012, but the additional $7.2 million to be allocated to the fund in 2008/09 has to be seen alongside inflation currently running well above three per cent,” Professor Skegg says.


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