“It’s time to scrap PBRF and start again.”
TEU vice-president Sandra Grey says that the union’s industrial and professional committee is recommending an end to PBRF in TEU’s draft submission to the Ministry of Education.
The draft submission still needs the support of the union’s governing council before it goes to the ministry, but at present it argues that PBRF, as a funding model, is “no longer efficient or effective”.
“Despite its reported effectiveness in lifting research outcomes in line with the criteria for the PBRF (but not broader measures of research quality and impact), the effects on staff, students, and communities; the distortions in the teaching and research environments of tertiary institutions; and, the costs of administering the model outweigh any benefits attributed to the system.”
Instead the draft submission argues the current system for funding other parts of the tertiary education sector – development of a tertiary education strategy, implementation plans, and annual reports – provide a robust system of accountability of public expenditure, and that research funding should be publicly accountable in a similar way.
The draft submission also argues that long-established and internationally agreed processes of peer reviewing of academic research and academic audits by teaching peers must again be recognised as the robust and proper way to ensure quality in the tertiary education sector.
Sandra Grey says the cost of PBRF outweighs the benefits.
“For three PBRF rounds now the worth of New Zealand academics has been counted, weighed, and tallied. The time and energy expended on the last PBRF quality evaluation round was $58 million.”
“The academic colleagues I speak to – those who put in the time and energy filling in research portfolios – don’t know how universities reached this figure. They don’t know whose time and energy had been counted. What they do know is that $58 million into actual research projects rather than form filling makes more sense in an age of austerity.”
“Unfortunately the flaws in the PBRF system are too much to tinker with or fix. The whole system needs to be scrapped and start again with a fresh new approach. A new approach that invests in all academics and all research rather than rewarding bureaucracy and form filling.”