Performance-Based Research Fund

Who applies? ITPs, PTEs, Universities, Wānanga Fund focus: Capability funding, Research
Status: Ongoing Agreed through? Investment Plan (on Plan)

The primary purpose of the Performance-Based research fund (PBRF[1]) is to ensure that excellent research in the tertiary education sector is encouraged and rewarded. This entails assessing the research performance of TEOs[2] and then funding them on the basis of their performance.

  • [1]

    Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF)

  • [2]

    Tertiary education organisation (TEO)

The PBRF is accessed by Universities, Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs), Wānanga and Private Training Establishments (PTEs).

The size of the PBRF funding pool is determined by government through its annual Budget. 

PBRF funding is paid through the Investment Plan. Delivery of the Plan is monitored by the TEC.

The funding period for the PBRF is the calendar year from 1 January to 31 December and is calculated using an established formula.

The PBRF model has three elements:

  • Quality Evaluation: to reward and encourage the quality of researchers - 60 percent of the fund
  • Research Degree Completions: to reflect research degree completions - 25 percent of the fund
  • External Research Income: to reflect external research income - 15 percent of fund.

Quality Evaluation

This element is an assessment of the research performance of staff at eligible TEOs by expert peer review panels. It is held periodically. There have been three Quality Evaluations to date – 2003, 2006 and 2012. In 2003 the assessment included all eligible researchers while 2006 was a partial round, with many of the Quality Categories achieved by researchers in 2003 carried over into the results for 2006. The 2012 Quality Evaluation was a full round of PBRF-eligible researchers from participating TEOs.

The TEC has convened a Sector Reference Group (SRG) to prepare the guidelines for the 2018 Quality Evaluation. The SRG's consultation papers can be found on the SRG Consultation Papers page.

Research Degree Completion

This element is a yearly measurement of the number of PBRF-eligible postgraduate research-based degrees completed at participating TEOs.

External Research Income

This element is a yearly measurement of the amount and type of income received by participating TEOs from external sources for research purposes.

Access to funding

Access to PBRF funding will be considered in accordance with government policy (as directed by the Minister’s determination under section 159L of the Education Act 1989), the Tertiary Education Strategy, and in response to performance.

Review of the PBRF

In March 2014 the Government announced changes to the PBRF following a review and public consultation in 2013. Learn more about the review and changes on the Ministry of Education’s website.


  • Last changed: 30 January 2015
  • Last verified: 30 January 2015