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.

The PBRF is accessed by universities, ITPs, wānanga and 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 tertiary education organisations.

Next steps

The TEC will convene a Sector Reference Group (SRG) later in 2014 to begin preparing the Guidelines for the 2018 Quality Evaluation. The SRG is expected to operate in a similar way to previous Quality Evaluation rounds and will produce a range of consultation papers to seek sector input into how Cabinet decisions will be implemented.

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 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.

Evaluation of the PBRF

The government has committed to a three-phase evaluation of the PBRF. The first two phases were completed and were released in 2004 and 2008, respectively.

In March 2014 the Government announced planned 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.

The changes will:

  • clarify the objectives of the PBRF
  • better value user-perspectives of research quality and engagement in user-oriented research
  • simplify the PBRF Quality Evaluation to reduce transaction costs
  • better support the sustainability of the tertiary education research workforce
  • strengthen reporting on research performance.

The TEC will work with the sector on implementing the agreed changes. All of the changes will be implemented prior to the next Quality Evaluation in 2018.

In addition, the Government is considering one further change to increase the value of the ERI from 15 percent to 20 percent of the PBRF, and reduce the value of the Quality Evaluation from 60 percent to 55 percent of the fund. As this was not part of the previous public consultation, the Ministry of Education will proceed with a short, targeted consultation with the most affected TEOs and some science organisations before the government finalises this proposal.




  • [1]

    Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF)

  • [2]

    Tertiary education organisation (TEO)

  • Last changed: 11 April 2014
  • Last verified: 11 April 2014