Victoria Victorious in Research Rankings

Victoria Victorious in Research Rankings

In its trademark bureaucratic and inaccessible style, the Tertiary Education Commission has published the results of its 2012 Quality Evaluation. The evaluation, which is the first since 2006, ranked the research performance of over 6,300 tertiary staff across the country.

Despite the influx of aspiring Critic interns, no one was foolish enough to volunteer to wade through the data. When confronted with the weighting formula on page 36, a visibly distressed lecturer from Otago’s Pure and Applied Mathematics subject area, which ranked first in the country in its field, said he would prefer to try his hand at proving the Continuum Hypothesis.

Victoria University was the big winner in the evaluation, claiming gold in two of the four measures. Otago took the honours for the “extent that postgraduate degree-level teaching and learning is underpinned by the research undertaken” – in other words, research quality weighted by the number of postgrad students. Deputy Vice-Chancellor Richard Blaikie told Critic that for every 100 Otago postgrads, there were 20 top-quality (“A” or “B” ranked) researchers at the Uni.

Professor Blaikie described the results as “an 8-high straight,” noting that Otago was the only university to score in the top four of every category. However, he acknowledged that Otago “still wants to do better,” and that although Otago’s performance had increased in all four measures since 2006, the environment was “very competitive” and other universities had improved faster.

Otago now has over 700 A- and B-ranked staff, comprising more than half of the total research staff. A-ranked researchers are those who have “high international standing” while B-ranked researchers have “high national standing.” Due to their size, the Universities of Auckland and Otago will receive 30.6% and 20.3% of the quality evaluation funding pool respectively.

Otago ranked top in seven subject areas: Dentistry; Education; Law; Pharmacy; Philosophy; Pure and Applied Mathematics; and Religious Studies and Theology.

AUT University scored poorly, but this was partly due to their score being halved under the weighting formula, as their official name “Auckland University of Technology University” means they are treated as two tertiary institutions.
This article first appeared in Issue 7, 2013.
Posted 5:49pm Sunday 14th April 2013 by Callum Fredric.