Lobbying efforts by TEU and others mean that the Tertiary Education Commission will change the way it calculates and reports on PBRF ranking. Currently researchers rated R or R (NE) are included in a tertiary institution’s Average Quality Score. TEU argued that this led to a number of universities targeting R rated researchers with practices involving excessive management scrutiny, limiting of career progression opportunities and so forth. In some instances the employment status of these staff were changed in an attempt to ‘game’ the PBRF system. While such practices did not gain the universities any more money, they do improve their ranking comparative to other universities.
TEU’s written submission told the commission staff whose institutions had targeted them in this way suffered limited career progression opportunities and, in some instances, in redundancy. It supported processes that offer the better protection against using PBRF performance as a rationale for making changes to employment conditions.
Meanwhile, Otago unviersity’s branch co-president Dr Brent Lovelock today told the Otago Daily Times people were losing their jobs because universities were “desperately trying to maintain or improve” their positions on PBRF tables.
“The PBRF process … has put alot of stress on staff and resulted inthe largest number of redundancies,in terms of academic staff, in my memory and I have been here for 12 years,” he said.
Associate editor of the New Zealand Journal of Psychology Associate Prof Neville Blampied told theOtago Daily Times PBRF was distorting research by discouraging some academics away from studying local issues.
“[Some may] have chosen to study something that is a hot topic internationally … and not to study stuff which is of very local interest but isn’t likely to sell internationally,” Prof Blampied told the paper.