University research performance

What We Have Found

Forty-seven percent of academic and research staff in universities were assessed as producing work that is of high quality or better, and recognised in New Zealand and elsewhere.  These staff received an A or B quality rating in 2012.  This is an increase of about 9 percent from 2006 and 15 percent from 2003.

Date Updated: January 2017

Indicator Description

The percentage of university research staff (full-time equivalent) who received an A or B quality category in the Performance-Based Research Fund 2012 Quality Evaluations.  (See the 'definition' document for a more detailed description of this indicator.)

Why This Is Important

The New Zealand government, like other governments, has recognised the role played by the innovation system in a knowledge-based society and economy.  It has also recognised the part played by the tertiary education sector in the innovation system.  The sector is an important producer of research and hence of new knowledge, producing more than 60 percent of New Zealand's research outputs.  It also has the responsibility of training New Zealand's researchers.

The contribution of the universities to the national research effort is in the area of pure basic research, which involves exploring and expanding the frontiers of knowledge.  The Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) has been developed by government to provide a greater focus on the quality of research in the tertiary education sector.  The purpose of the fund is to encourage tertiary institutions to improve research performance at all levels in the sector.The Performance-Based Research Fund avoids a simple quantitative assessment of research output by taking a holistic view of research quality and focusing on a qualitative, expert-led assessment of each researcher's 'best' outputs.  As such, the fund provides an excellent way of assessing the overall quality of research from the tertiary education sector.

How We Are Going

Forty-seven percent of academic and research staff in universities were assessed as having achieved an A or B quality category in 2012.  That is, producing research that is at least high quality and recognised in New Zealand and elsewhere.  This represented an increase from 38 percent in 2006 and 32 percent in 2003.In 2012, 835 university staff (12 percent) were assessed as producing highly original or innovative research recognised as being of world class standard, compared with 600 staff (8.6 percent) in 2006 and 425 staff (6.3 percent) in 2003.

Figure 1: Proportion of university academic and research staff by Performance-Based Research Fund quality category

Figure 1


  1. Source: Tertiary Education Commission (2013) and Ministry of Education (2013).
  2. From 2006, two new quality categories C(NE) and R(NE) were introduced to recognise new and emerging researchers.
  3. The measure of academic and research-only staff used to generate proportions in this indicator includes academic full-time equivalent staff (professors, associate professors, senior lecturers, and lecturers), as well as research-only full-time equivalent staff.


Indicator Pages


Where To Find Out More

Contact Us

Education Data Requests
If you have any questions about education data then please contact us at:
Email:      Requests EDK
Phone:    +64 4 463 8065