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Unitec top ranked ITP in research funding

Unitec ranked top of the 14 ITPs participating in the latest Performance Based Research Fund (PBRF) Quality Evaluation, with 124 portfolios achieving a fundable rating, according to initial results released last week.

The PBRF is a highly competitive, nationally peer-reviewed process, run by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), that awards funding based on the quality of research in the tertiary industry.

With over a quarter of ITP sector share of the PBRF funding going to Unitec, and with Unitec ranked 9th out of the 36 participating tertiary organisations in a fund that better suits the university sector, this result highlights the outstanding research programme in place at Unitec.

Unitec’s 2019 performance is an improvement on their already successful outcome in the last PBRF round in 2012, with 97% of submitted portfolios being awarded funding, up from 71% in 2012. Unitec was awarded more of the highest quality ‘A’ categories and more ‘new and emerging’ categories than in 2012, reflecting the ITP’s focus on the high quality of its research and its support of new researchers.

Marcus Williams, Unitec’s Director of Research & Enterprise, said “We’re thrilled with our PBRF results this year, which highlight Unitec’s ongoing focus on applied research, and our support of our new and emerging researchers. For a number of reasons, PBRF is better suited to the university sector, therefore the success of any ITP must be seen in this context and is all the more notable.”

Evidencing the quality and breadth of research undertaken at Unitec, staff were awarded funding across a range of disciplines: Architecture, Design, Planning, Surveying; Visual Arts and Crafts, Engineering and Technology; Education, Computer Science, Information Technology and Information Sciences, Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour; Sociology, Social Policy, Social Work, Criminology and Gender Studies and Management, Human Resources, Industrial Relations and Other Business.

The awarded funding will be utilised for the continuation and expansion of Unitec’s diverse and successful research programme.

Disciplines of particular strength within the Unitec submission were “Architecture, Design, Planning, Surveying”, with 12% of the national funding in this suite of disciplines, and “Visual Arts and Crafts”, with 8% of funding.

“PBRF has been constantly reviewed since it started in 2003 and has, over that time, become more inclusive and expansive of diversity of research,” Mr Williams said.

“The type of research that we’re good at and pride ourselves on is community and industry-engaged research – finding solutions to real-world problems, that often have an immediate impact.

“PBRF still provides challenges for those research areas, but it is improving and the national ITP Research Directors group is pulling together strongly to make the system more inclusive,” said Mr Williams.

Recent examples of applied research at Unitec are:

  • Unitec staff and students develop app for Auckland’s homeless community, aimed at creating connections, opportunities for work and personal development, at the 2018 Datacomp Hackathon event.
  • Dr Glenn Aguilar, Associate Professor Dan Blanchon and Lauren Hannah explore the effect of climate change on weeds.
  • Rau Hoskins and Jenny Lee-Morgan conducted research into how marae can assist with addressing whānau aspirations and needs for long-term, affordable and healthy housing, based on the approach of Te Puea Memorial Marae in Mangere, that assisted with housing homeless whānau in winter.