The University of Canterbury’s proposal to fine underperforming colleges $40,000 a year, or $200,000 over five years, if they have more ‘research inactive’ staff in the 2012 PBRF round than planned for by college managers has drawn criticism from TEU deputy secretary Nanette Cormack.
She told the Press that the move was a “further worrying sign” that universities are misusing PBRF information:
“PBRF scores were designed and intended as tools for government funding allocation, not for universities to use to punish individual colleges and the staff within them.”
“If the university’s central focus becomes chasing research dollars, it needs to be very aware that it does not let its other role, teaching, suffer,” Ms Cormack said.
And she told National Radio’s Morning Report that the University of Canterbury’s approach could threaten academics’ jobs. In particular it could make finding work hard for new academics who have not yet built up an international research profile. The lead-in time for publication in many international journals is 12 months or more.
Vice Chancellor Rod Carr told Morning Report that the scheme was not a punishment but an incentive: “At the end of the day what we want is the research.”
TEU president Tom Ryan says that another issue that needs to be considered as universities strive to increase their PBRF funding is the workload impact PBRF has on general staff.
“General staff, and in particular the technical staff, provide significant support to academics in their research. Yet as universities ratchet up the competition for PBRF funding, they usually do not take into account the impact this has on the workload of general staff. Some better acknowledgement of their contributions needs to be factored in.”