Chapter 1: Overview


Fund background

1.1The Tertiary Education Commission Te Amorangi Mātauranga Matua (TEC) manages the PBRF which has the primary goal of encouraging and rewarding excellent research in New Zealand’s tertiary education sector. This involves assessing the quality of research carried out by New Zealand based degree-granting tertiary education organisations (TEOs) – and their wholly-owned subsidiaries – and funding them on the basis of their research performance.

1.2The PBRF considers the quality of research carried out by researchers working at participating TEOs, rather than the quantity of research outputs or the particular nature of the research as such. The purpose of the PBRF is not to provide funding for research projects, but to reward research excellence and support TEOs to provide an environment that produces research of a high quality. One of the key reasons for taking this approach is to ensure that degree and Post graduate-level teaching is underpinned by high quality research activities.

1.3The PBRF has grown since its introduction in 2003 to $250 million per year in 2011.1  The original funding that allowed the creation of the PBRF came from existing Vote Education research funding paid as a top-up to Student Component Funding to support the delivery of postgraduate courses.


1.4A total of 45 TEOs met the eligibility criteria2 for PBRF funding in 2010 and 2011. Of this group, 27 participated in the measures that form the PBRF. These participants include all eight of New Zealand’s universities; ten of the 17 eligible institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs); two of the three eligible wānanga; and seven of the 17 eligible private training establishments (PTEs).


1.5The PBRF has three components: a periodic Quality Evaluation (QE) measure; a Research Degree Completions (RDC) measure; and an External Research Income (ERI) measure. In the PBRF funding formulae, these three components are weighted 60 percent, 25 percent, and 15 percent respectively.

1.6For each of the components, a provider’s share of funding is determined by its performance relative to other participating TEOs. Quality Evaluations were held in 2003 and 2006, with the latter setting TEOs’ QE ratios until 2013. The RDC and ERI measures are calculated annually using three-year weighted averages.

The 2012 Quality Evaluation and beyondTop

1.7A third Quality Evaluation was held in 2012 and the interim results were published in April 2013. Detailed analysis of results can be found at

1.8The PBRF was reviewed following both the 2003 and 2006 Quality Evaluation rounds. A new review underway by the Ministry of Education will conclude in September 2013 with findings on the extent to which the PBRF has achieved its longer-term aims and recommendations for any changes.

1Unless otherwise specified, all funding figures in this report are GST exclusive and by calendar year.
2The PBRF Guidelines state that providers must have degree-granting authority and also participate in all three measures, even if their funding entitlement in one or more measure is likely to be zero.