PBRF rort is fault of system, not universitiesPublish By NZweek News Staff Updated 20/04/2012 1:32 pm in NZ News / no comments
TEU national president Dr Sandra Grey welcomed the Tertiary Education Commission’s announcement last week that it would attempt to end the widespread gaming of research funding.
“Universities have tried to change their research rankings compared to other universities by ‘hiding’ staff they consider will compare poorly in terms of research output,” said TEU national president Dr Sandra Grey. “Universities have changed people’s employment agreements, restructured departments and people’s jobs and in some cases made academics redundant simply so that they can appear higher on a rankings ladder than other universities.”
The commission has released an initial audit of the performance based research fund exercise carried out by KPMG. The audit shows a range of problems with the way institutions are engaging the exercise, confirming that gaming has been occurring in the research funding exercise.
TEC general manager of strategy, planning and information David Nicholson told the Otago Daily Times the commission was taking the issues raised in the audit seriously and was concerned the way institutions managed their staff could affect their ranking on league tables. “We are now consulting with the sector to determine if there is a more meaningful way to report the [league tables],” he said.
Dr Grey said that competitive funding, by its nature can create perverse incentives. In this case, the perverse outcome has been job insecurity for many academics.
“TEU has consistently and publicly lobbied the commission about this issue for a long time and we are glad to see that our concerns have been recognised,” said Dr Grey. “I hope that this review and consultation on performance based research funding will mean that good teachers and emerging researchers at universities can have more job security.”