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Research excellence gets another boost

Research excellence gets another boost – total spending up by over $200m

Shifting to a performance-based funding system for research in tertiary education sector will significantly improve knowledge creation in New Zealand and that’s why the government is investing more than $200m in extra funding via a variety of mechanisms over the next four years, says Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey.

The government today released the report of the Performance Based-Research Fund Working Group, Investing in Excellence, and said it had accepted all its recommendations. The Working Group, made up of tertiary sector and research community representatives, was established in June to advise the government on how the Performance Based-Research Fund will work in practice.

Steve Maharey said the government is heavily investing in top quality research in the tertiary education sector. The introduction of performance-based research funding will take total new investment to $207.9m over the next four years – as well as redistributing existing funds intended for research, but currently included as part of the block student grant (EFTS), on the basis of research quality.

“The Performance-Based Research Fund will allow New Zealand’s research-intensive tertiary institutions to retain, attract and develop top researchers, and will improve their ability to contribute strongly to knowledge production in the international research community.

“From 2004, research in the tertiary education sector will start to be funded on the basis of its quality, rather than being delivered on the basis on enrolments (the EFTS system). Excellence will be measured by peer review, the number of advanced research degrees completed, and the amount of external research income earned. In future higher quality researchers and research departments will receive higher levels of funding.

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“The establishment of the Performance-Based Research Fund continues three years of funding boosts for research (all figures over four years unless specified): $36.3m in extra funding will be channelled into the Fund as it develops – with an additional $20m being added by the time it is has been fully phased in 2007. By then the Fund will total $134m annually in new and existing resources; $130.2m in capital and operating funding is being provided to establish the seven centres of research excellence; . . / 2 $25.2m is being invested to support the development of collaborative research consortia with the private sector; and, universities have significantly the funding they receive from Vote: Research, Science and Technology (for example via the Marsden Fund and FoRST) – total funding is 20% over the last three years (from $75.8m in 1999/2000 to $92m in 2001/02).

“Knowledge creation, application and dissemination are the lifeblood of the knowledge society. While New Zealand’s tertiary education sector produces much high-quality research and has world-class researchers in many fields we need to get much better at providing the right environment to achieve these results as a matter of course in the future,” Steve Maharey said.

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