Performance-Based Research Fund

Performance-Based Research Fund

Last updated 25 July 2022
Last updated 25 July 2022

The purpose of the Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) is to increase the quality of research by ensuring that excellent research in the tertiary education sector is encouraged and rewarded.  This means assessing the research performance of tertiary education organisations (TEOs) and then funding them on the basis of their performance.

Eligibility:  Te Pūkenga, PTEs, universities, wānanga can choose to participate

Agreed through:  Investment Plan (on-Plan fund) 

Review of the Performance-based Research Fund 2019-2020

Cabinet announced decisions on changes to the PBRF in July 2021. This followed a periodic review of the PBRF that commenced in July 2019.

The aim of the 2019 Review was to examine the ways government can continue to support research excellence by improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the PBRF settings and to ensure the benefits of this research are shared across Aotearoa New Zealand.

More information on the review, including the panel’s final report, and Cabinet’s decisions on changes to the PBRF can be found on the Ministry of Education's website.


The Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) is designed to increase the quality of research by encouraging and rewarding excellent research in Aotearoa New Zealand’s degree-granting organisations. It does not fund specific research projects directly but provides bulk funding to support an organisation’s research capability, including postgraduate level teaching support.  


The primary objectives of the PBRF are to:

  • increase the quality of basic and applied research at Aotearoa New Zealand's degree-granting tertiary education organisations (TEOs);
  • support world-leading, research-led teaching and learning at degree and postgraduate levels;
  • assist Aotearoa New Zealand's TEOs to maintain and lift their competitive rankings relative to their international peers;
  • provide robust public information to stakeholders about research performance within and across TEOs; and
  • support a robust and inclusive system for developing and sustaining research excellence in Aotearoa New Zealand.

In doing so, the PBRF will also:

  • support the development of postgraduate student researchers and new and emerging researchers;
  • support research activities that provide economic, social, cultural, and environmental benefits to Aotearoa New Zealand, including the advancement of Mātauranga Māori; and 
  • support technology and knowledge transfer to Aotearoa New Zealand businesses, iwi and communities.

To meet these objectives, the main focus of the PBRF is on rewarding and encouraging excellence. Excellence is not just about the production of high-quality research articles, books, exhibitions and other forms of research output. It includes all of the following:

  • the production and creation of leading-edge knowledge;
  • the application of that knowledge;
  • the dissemination of that knowledge to students, iwi and hāpu, and the wider community; and
  • supporting current and potential researchers (e.g. postgraduate students) in the creation, application and dissemination of knowledge.

Cabinet has asked the TEC, working with the Sector Reference Group (SRG) for the Quality Evaluation 2025, to consider how the definitions of research and research excellence can be improved.

Guiding principles of the PBRF

The PBRF is governed by the following principles:

  • Partnership: the PBRF should reflect the bicultural nature of Aotearoa New Zealand and the special role and status of the Treaty of Waitangi / Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
  • Equity: different approaches and resources are needed to ensure that the measurement of research excellence leads to equitable outcomes.
  • Inclusiveness: the PBRF should encourage and recognise the full diversity of epistemologies, knowledges, and methodologies to reflect Aotearoa New Zealand’s people.
  • Comprehensiveness: the PBRF should appropriately measure the quality of the full range of original investigative activity that occurs within the sector, regardless of its type, form, or place of output. 
  • Respect for academic traditions: the PBRF should operate in a manner that is consistent with academic freedom and institutional autonomy. 
  • Consistency: evaluations of quality made through the PBRF should be consistent across the different subject areas and in the calibration of quality ratings against international standards of excellence. 
  • Continuity: changes to the PBRF process should only be made where they can bring demonstrable improvements that outweigh the cost of implementing them. 
  • Differentiation: the PBRF should allow stakeholders and the Government to differentiate between providers and their units on the basis of their relative quality. 
  • Credibility: the methodology, format and processes employed in the PBRF must be credible to those being assessed. 
  • Efficiency: administrative and compliance costs should be kept to the minimum, consistent with a robust and credible process. 
  • Transparency: decisions and decision-making processes must be explained openly, except where there is a need to preserve confidentiality and privacy. 
  • Complementarity: the PBRF should be integrated with new and existing policies, such as Investment Plans, and quality assurance systems for degrees and degree providers. 

How the fund works

The PBRF is accessed by universities, Te Pūkenga, wānanga and private training establishments (PTEs).

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

PBRF funding is paid through the Investment Plan. Delivery of the Plan is monitored by the Tertiary Education Commission (the TEC).

The PBRF comprises three funding components – Quality Evaluation, Research Degree Completion and External Research Income.

Quality Evaluation

The Quality Evaluation is an assessment of the research performance of staff at eligible TEOs. TEOs present their staff members' research in Evidence Portfolios that are assessed for quality by expert peer review panels. This component is used to allocate 55 percent of the fund.

The Quality Evaluation is held periodically. The next Quality Evaluation will be held in 2026. 

There have been four previous Quality Evaluation rounds in 2003, 2006, 2012 and 2018. For more information about these earlier rounds see Previous Quality Evaluation rounds.

Research Degree Completion

The Research Degree Completions component is a yearly measurement of the number of PBRF-eligible postgraduate research-based degrees completed at participating TEOs.

This component is used to allocate 25 percent of the fund.

External Research Income

The External Research Income component is a yearly measurement of the amount and type of income received for research purposes by participating TEOs from external sources.  

This component is used to allocate 20 percent of the fund.

Following the 2019-20 review of the PBRF the Government decided to amend the weightings applied to the different types of ERI.

From 1 January 2022 the following weightings by income source will apply. 

Sources of external research incomes


Aotearoa New Zealand government contestable funds


Aotearoa New Zealand public sector contract research


Non-Government income from within Aotearoa New Zealand


Overseas research income


The new weightings on ERI income source will apply to the 2022 ERI data that is reported in 2023 and inform the calculation of TEO’s PBRF funding allocations from the 2024 funding year onwards. By 2026, all of the ERI component will be allocated based on ERI weighted by source.

Any ERI data reported by TEOs for years prior to 2022 will continue to be weighted at the rates set out in the 2014 Funding Determination as set out in the table below:

  Sources of external research incomes


Aotearoa New Zealand government contestable funds


Aotearoa New Zealand public sector contract research


Non-Government income from within Aotearoa New Zealand


Overseas research income


Allocation of funding for ERI is based on the proportion of total ERI earned by participating TEOs, weighted by funding source. 


The Performance Based Research Fund (PBRF) funding mechanism is issued by the Minister responsible for tertiary education. The funding mechanism outlines the general form and essential components of the fund. It provides the mandate for us to allocate the funding and what the funding can be used for, and details how we administer the fund.

Funding is agreed through a tertiary education organisation's (TEO’s) Investment Plan (Plan).

A TEO that receives PBRF funding is required to:

Funding allocation

2022 Performance-Based Research Fund indicative allocation

Our approach to calculating your 2022 indicative allocation for the Performance-Based Research Fund

Your prior performance information was used to calculate your 2022 indicative allocation.

Starting point

The PBRF is a mixed performance-assessment regime that employs both peer review processes and performance measures.

We calculate PBRF allocations based on the performance of eligible TEOs in:

  • the latest Quality Evaluation;
  • the number of eligible Research Degree Completions; and
  • the value of External Research Income.

The Quality Evaluation: this is a periodic assessment of the research performance of eligible TEO staff, undertaken by expert peer review panels. This component makes up 55% of the fund.

The funding allocation is based on the award of funded Quality Categories and subject area weighting of Evidence Portfolios submitted by TEOs. It is calculated relative to:

a. The funded Quality Category assigned to Evidence Portfolios (EPs) – e.g. A,B,C or C (NE);
b. The full-time equivalency status of the participating TEO’s PBRF-eligible staff member as recorded in the PBRF Staff Data File; and
c. The weighting for the subject area to which EPs have been assigned.

The postgraduate Research Degree Completions (RDC): this is a measurement of the annual number of PBRF-eligible postgraduate research-based degrees completed at participating TEOs. This component makes up 25% of the Fund.

The funding allocation is based on a three-year rolling average of a TEO’s research-based postgraduate degree completions, weighted by research volume, relative costs of the subject areas, and ethnicity and completions in Te Reo.

The External Research Income (ERI): this is the annual amount of income participating TEOs receive for research from external sources. This component makes up 20% of the Fund.

The funding allocation is based on a three year rolling average of a TEO’s proportion of total ERI earned and weighted by funding source.

The allocation percentage for Te Pūkenga is based on the consolidation of the relevant year data for each of the three funding components for the Institute of Technology and Polytechnic (ITP) it replaces.  

An indicative funding allocation may be made to a TEO that later transfers delivery to a transitional or other TEO. In that case, we will engage with the new TEO to transfer and adjust the allocation.

We will adjust the allocation of the provider receiving the largest portion of Research Degree Completion Funding if the 2022 final rounded calculations create an over allocation against the 2022 funding of the PBRF.  A small difference will be accepted where funding is under allocated due to rounded calculations.  

Performance-Based Research Fund Wash-up

For the methodology and technical specifications for the PBRF wash-up, refer to Funding wash-ups by year

Researchers' requests for assessment information

Individual researchers may request information on the assessment of their own Evidence Portfolio from the 2018 Quality Evaluation.

To request this information, you will need to complete a Request for Evidence Portfolio Information form (PDF 197 KB) (PDF, 197 Kb).

Important: This is a writable PDF form. Please ensure you download and save the form, complete it, then save again before emailing it to

You can choose to have your results emailed to you rather than posted, and we encourage you to select this option for speed and efficiency.

To ensure confidentiality, if we have any concerns related to your identity, the information will not be released.

TEOs cannot request this information on behalf of staff.