Media release: 12 April 2013
PBRF report shows Postgrad students missing out
Results showing up in the Performance Based Research Fund report, released this week, beg some questions about hidden trends occurring in the tertiary education sector says the NZ Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA).
“A significant component of the fund, known as the PBRF, is the funding related to research degree completion. This is obviously of interest to students and more-so in a climate where it has already been shown that cutting access to postgraduate allowances is turning some students away from research degrees,” says Dr Alistair Shaw, Executive Director of NZUSA.
“The concerning trend we’ve noticed, and that we expect universities will be commenting on, is that in the period between 2006 and 2012 there has been a steady decline in the institutional funding that government allocates for each year of research degree completion. The 2007 report puts that figure on average at $14,966 with the latest report showing this has sunk down to $11,368, a drop of $3,600.
“This poses a set of serious questions that the powers that be have been ducking.
“First, if the PBRF is intended to be a major driver for research degrees why is the per-student funding falling?
“Second, what thought, if any, has been occurred the double whammy of squeezing down this funding at the same time as putting potential research candidates on to a road of personal impoverishment?,” says Dr Shaw.
“The big question this begs is the shift away from placing a clear priority on making New Zealand a site of real excellence for producing quality postgraduate students and outcomes for the country as a whole.
“Without turning this trend around, the legacy of Tertiary Minster Steven Joyce may be that he has been the steward of a system hell-bent on undermining postgraduate research”.