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Role for polytechnics in the new research environ

Distinct role for polytechnics in the new research environment

Polytechnics can have a vital role in the new environment for tertiary education research by adhering to their core mission, Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) Steve Maharey today told the Association of Polytechnics in New Zealand (APNZ) Conference on “Research that Works”.

As part of a comprehensive series of tertiary education reforms, significant changes to the funding of research are being introduced. These centre on the development of a Performance-Based Research Fund, to replace current enrolment-related funding. By the time it is fully in place by 2007, approximately $134 million a year will be allocated through this fund.

Steve Maharey endorsed the mission for polytechnics set out in the Education Act, which states that the polytechnic sector has a role in carrying out “research that aids development”, with the emphasis on applied and technological research.

“Polytechnics’ research role is quite different from that of the universities, for whom it is their defining role. But it is just as vital if we are to operate as the smart nation we need to be to return New Zealand to the top half of the OECD rankings in GDP per capita.

“Polytechnic research matters because it is ‘research that works’, as the conference title suggests, and it’s also about working with industry to help them put other research to work. Under this government there is an increasing emphasis on taking the best possible advantage of research with commercial applications. This is a part of the innovation ‘value chain’ where polytechnics are especially important. “I acknowledge that the move to a performance-based research fund will present challenges to all parts of the sector, to varying extents. But it is fair to say that the PBRF will create opportunities that will make these challenges worth the effort.

“The Performance-Based Research Fund working group, officials and ministers have worked to ensure that we know as much about these challenges as we can before a model is realised, and that we will achieve a performance-based research fund that will provide incentives for excellence in research, whilst minimising costs,” Steve Maharey said.

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