Researchers need money

Research institutes suffer from financial problems.  State subsidies have been considerably reduced. At the Parliamentary Committee meeting, representatives of research institutes called for increasing governmental grants.

Currently, in Poland there are 116 research institutes that deal with R&D towards implementation and practical uses. They are subsidized from the state budget just like university faculties or Institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

Last Thursday the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education released data that show how the level of state subsidies is going down year by year. In 2012 the institutions were granted in total over 654 million PLZ, in 2013 nearly 516 million while in 2014 no more than 455 million PLZ.

“Demand for higher statutory subsidy in research institutes is visible, even though the income of all institutes in 2013 was 6.4 billion PLZ and the statutory subsidy was 516 million, i.e. only 8.6 % of the income. It is still, however, an important financial pool that enables the institutes to increase their income levels by participating in national and international projects” – said Mr. Leszek Rafalski, the President of Head Council for Research Institutes during the meeting of Standing Committee for Education and Science Economics.

He stressed that research institutes have great ambitions to be present in Horizon 2020 program, though participation in a Horizon 2020 project costs several dozen thousand PLZ. A little less (between ten and twenty thousand PLZ) takes research teams to apply for national project calls at the National Science Center or the National Center for Research and Development.

“We are well aware of the fact that financing the statutory activity has been clearly decreased over the past two years. The year 2012 may not be a perfect reference point as it saw relatively significant allocation for science” said Marek Ratajczak, Deputy Minister for Science and Higher Education. “I realize that even those institutes that have high income from other sources cannot finance their all needs. That is why the statutory subsidy is so important”, he said.

Mr. Ratajczak pointed out that the subsidy reduction for research institutes  in 2014 was also caused by the parametric test of science institutes carried out in 2013. Compared to the previous tests, there were fewer institutes with top category. In 2013 the top category A+ and A was granted to 71 research institutes, while in 2014 to only 43. “The results translated into the level of subsidies” Ratajczak added.

President of Head Council for Research Institutes highlighted that his branch brought up a number of critical remarks concerning the testing criteria. In previous criteria technical sciences were missing points for participation in international projects. Thus the Council proposed ten amendment proposals to both, Research Unit Evaluation Committee and to the Ministry of Science.

The Deputy Minister emphasized that the budget draft to be soon referred to the Parliament allocates over 10% more means for science than in 2014. “We assume that those resources will partly be earmarked for statutory activity”, said Ratajczak.

He also reminded that in 2015 statutory activity will be divided under new rules. State budget funds allocated to science institutions will depend on the quality of their research performance as well as the scientific category. The system of transferring the amount from the previous year shall be done away with. (Polish Press Agency)




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