Universities fear changes that will increase research funding for Maori and Pasifika academics ahead of their Pākehā colleagues.
The government has announced that the $ 315 million per year Performance Based Research Fund (PBRF) will reward the work of Maori researchers at 2.5 times the rate of non-Maori academics, while the work of pasifika scholars will be funded. at twice the rate of non-Maori. Pasifika tariff.
It will also give research on Maori knowledge a financial weight three times the current rate of 2.5 which applies to the more expensive sciences.
Universities New Zealand chief executive Chris Whelan said the fund was successful because it only focused on rewarding excellent research.
Using it to increase the number of Maori and Pasifika scholars was an admirable goal but would be best attempted in other ways, he said.
“We totally agree, more high quality Maori and Pasifika researchers doing more relevant high quality Maori and Pasifika Maori research is important, but they need their own dedicated funding,” he said. declared.
Whelan said the universities are committed to increasing the number of Maori and Pasifika researchers and the quality of research.
“We would probably prefer there to be a fund more dedicated to this rather than trying to dilute the Performance Based Research Fund.
“There is always a risk that you end up with a system that ends up being played,” he said.
“The moment you start trying to drive particular areas, you start to distort that system.”
Whelan said the same criticism applied to the government’s decision to encourage universities to seek more foreign funding for research by increasing the weighting of this aspect of the PBRF.
Association of Scientists president Troy Baisden said measures to support diversity were welcome, but it was not clear whether they would be successful.
“There is little evidence that a similar mechanism to support early career researchers created benefits in previous PBRF cycles.”
Baisden said academics were discussing ways to encourage more Maori and Pasifikas to pursue academic careers.
“It is not comfortable in many traditional departments to be a Maori scholar or to be a Pasifika scholar,” he said.
A Cabinet document included a modeling of the changes that showed some universities would make money from the changes, but most would lose if the weights were changed without any increase in the amount of money distributed by the fund.
The University of Waikato would see its allocation increase by $ 1.14 million or 13%, while the University of Otago would lose $ 1.9 million or 5% of its share of the fund. Massey and Canterbury universities would each lose more than $ 500,000.
The modeling indicated that the two wananga that participated in the fund would benefit from huge percentage increases, although the amounts of money involved are modest.
Funding for Te Wananga o Aotearoa would increase from $ 174,149 to just over $ 1 million, while that of Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi would increase from $ 160,473 to $ 495,928.
Another Cabinet document said 4.8 percent of academics who participated in the latest PBRF quality assessment were Maori and 1.4 percent were Pasifika. Both figures were much lower than the percentage of the general population that is Maori (16.4 percent) or Pasifika (8 percent).