Four of the country's top research institutions will miss out on millions of dollars of funding next year.
The Tertiary Education Commission says the Riddet Institute at Massey University, Gravida at Auckland University, the Bio-Protection Centre at Lincoln University and Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga at Waikato University have not made the shortlist to be renewed as Centres of Research Excellence.
The commission's chief executive, Tim Fowler, says they missed out partly because of greater competition from other institutions.
"All of the existing cores as well as new applicants compete on a level playing-field," he says, "so it is clearly a very high-stakes process and one that's subject to a high level of competition, to the extent that we had 27 applications and only eight were shortlisted."
Mr Fowler was not immediately able to say which applicants made the shortlist.
Centres of Research Excellence share a $32 million funding pool intended to make them the best of the best in their fields of study.