Delaying the Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) Quality Evaluation to 2026

Delaying the Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) Quality Evaluation to 2026

Last updated 25 July 2022
Last updated 25 July 2022

The Minister for Education has decided to delay the next PBRF Quality Evaluation by twelve months. The Quality Evaluation submission and assessment process will therefore now take place in 2026, with the results published in 2027.

The Minister has also agreed to extend the assessment period by twelve months. This means that the assessment period for Quality Evaluation 2026 will be 1 January 2018 – 31 December 2025.

This decision has been made following a request from Universities New Zealand, which raised significant concerns about the impacts of COVID-19 on individual researchers and on tertiary education organisations (TEOs).

To ensure this delay does not affect implementation of Cabinet’s recent decisions, which included new funding weightings for Māori and Pacific research and researchers, the Minister has requested the TEC to back-date the results of the next Quality Evaluation round. This means that the new funding rates will still take effect as planned starting from the 2026 funding year.

We will continue to run our Sector Reference Group (SRG) consultation process with the aim of delivering the Guidelines in 2023. This will ensure that this delay to the Quality Evaluation round provides a longer period for TEOs to prepare between the finalisation of Guidelines and the submission date.

However, to allow for longer consultation periods on the remaining issues and the final Guidelines, we will now be publishing the Guidelines later in 2023 than the June 2023 date we have previously advised.  We will publish the new dates for our SRG consultations and the publication of the Guidelines in due course.

How this affects the assessment and funding periods of the PBRF Quality Evaluation

The original arrangement for the next PBRF Quality Evaluation was a six-year assessment period (2018-2023) followed by a submission and assessment round in 2024 that determined a six-year funding period (2025-2030).

The government’s previous decision to delay the QE from 2024 to 2025 varied this usual arrangement, creating a seven-year assessment period (2018-2024) and a year’s delay to the QE round, while retaining a six-year funding period (2026-2031).

This new decision creates the need for a further variation. The next QE will now have an eight-year assessment period (2018-2025), take place in 2026, and inform a seven-year funding period covering 2026 through to 2032.

The extra year in the assessment period will give researchers and TEOs extra time to prepare and to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 over the last two and a half years.  The extra year in the funding period is necessary as a transitional step to allow the PBRF to return to the usual six-year assessment period and six-year funding period for the 2032 QE round. Without this extra year in the funding period, there would be no PBRF Quality Evaluation results available to calculate 2032 funding.

How back-dating of 2026 results will work

Indicative allocations for both 2026 and for 2027 will be calculated using 2018 results, rather than just for 2026 as would otherwise have been the case. Once the 2026 QE results are confirmed, the allocations for both these years will be adjusted in a wash-up process.

The confirmation of the results of the QE and the wash-up process for 2026 and 2027 will take place in 2027. For the 2027 funding year, the wash-up will involve a new indicative funding allocation which, as part of the normal PBRF funding cycle, will remain subject to a further wash-up of the Research Degree Completions (RDC) and External Research Income (ERI) components in the following year.

From 2027, the results of the QE 2026 will be used to calculate funding as normal, with the funding period for these results covering up to the end of 2032.