The University of Otago could be about to gain a large slice
of $35 million in research funding a year.
The university is involved in ''most'' of the eight
shortlisted projects selected as possible Centres of Research
Excellence and could benefit from confirmation four existing
centres - based at Auckland, Massey and Lincoln universities
- have missed out. The university is not host to any of the
seven existing government funded centres - meaning any
success it has will result in new funding.
Deputy vice-chancellor, research and enterprise Richard
Blaikie said yesterday it was ''strongly engaged in most of
the eight shortlisted applications, some of which will be
hosted or co-hosted by Otago University if successful''.
He could not reveal much, because the successful bids were
yet to be selected, but said five bids were submitted with
Otago University either the host or co-host - without saying
how many had made the shortlist.
''It would be very nice to be named as host for one or more
of these,'' he said.
The Otago Daily Times understands that two
Otago-hosted bids, involving aspects of advanced physics
research, and of ocean science, are included in the
And it is also understood a proposed neuroscience research
centre, to be jointly hosted by Otago University and Auckland
University, is also on the shortlist.
The Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution
is also understood to be included. The centre's director,
Hamish Spencer, is based at Otago University.
Some researchers believe a wind of change is blowing through
the Centre of Research Excellence arrangements, which could
prove positive for Otago University.
The Royal Society of New Zealand, which is making
recommendations to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC)
over which bids should be successful, says on its website
successful applicants would be funded for six years - from
January 2015 to December 2020 - subject to a mid-term review
in 2017. The Royal Society would make its recommendations to
TEC early next month after it finished site visits for
shortlisted centres this month.
Confirmation four existing centres did not make the shortlist
has come in for criticism from the Labour Party, Tertiary
Education Union and Federated Farmers, which all questioned
why funding for the centres was being cut.
A TEC spokeswoman responded saying the funding was ''fully
contestable'' and competition was ''fierce'' among the 27
''That means current [centres] needed to reapply and all
applications were considered using the same criteria.
''The short-listing is in no way a comment on the previous
performance of the existing [centres] as this was not part of
the selection criteria,'' she said.
TEC expected to announce successful candidates in May.
Budget 2013 increased the fund by 10%, bringing the total
amount of annual funding for the centres to just under $35