Demand for research information is greater than ever – why is research funding declining?

28.11.2019

MEDIA RELEASE

Free for publication: Friday 29 November 2019 at 10 a.m.

 

Demand for research information is greater than ever – why is research funding declining?

“We commit to knowledge-based policy-making” is one of the pledges stated in the Finnish Government Programme 2019. The latest Science Barometer shows that people in Finland have strong confidence both in scientific research and the science community. National and international examples indicate that there is a greater demand for research information than ever before. 

‘It is, thus, quite contradictory that the funding allocated to science as the foundation of research information is declining both nationally and at the EU programme level’, says Jouni Kivistö-Rahnasto, the Chair of the Finnish Union of University Professors.

The Finnish Union of University Professors finds it extremely important that the Government has promised to implement the university index in full and to raise the core financing for universities by 40 million euro. These promises will not, however, much alleviate the situation within research. 

In light of the figures proposed by the Government after its budget workshop, the Academy of Finland would have received 45 million euro less than in the preceding year. Of this amount, 25 million euro represented flagship research funding of a temporary nature. The Government’s supplementary budget of 21 November granted an additional 10 million euro in funding to the Academy of Finland, but even so, research funding will decline from the preceding level. The Finnish Union of University Professors considers this trend to be misguided. 

Business Finland’s funding decisions have been delayed, and important projects have been left without funding as a result of budgetary cuts made during the past Government term. Increasing the overall financing for Business Finland in the state budget for 2020 is a positive sign, but the volume is not sufficient.

News regarding the EU’s research funding situation is worrisome. During the Finnish presidency of the Council of the EU, Finland is proposing such cuts to the EU budget that would, if implemented, significantly limit our researchers’ opportunities to obtain funding. The Horizon Europe research programme is facing a possible cut of 12 bllion euro, which equals 15 percent of the programme funding. 

‘Decision-makers in Finland have encouraged researchers to apply for grants from the EU funding instruments. This branch is now being sawn off. The fewer euros there are to distribute, the less our researchers will obtain in terms of EU funding. The most bizarre aspect here is that, despite Finland’s emphasis on knowledge and competence, this EU budget cut is being driven by Finland itself during its presidency of the Council of the EU.’ 

The Finnish Union of University Professors has exerted influence on a broad basis as a means of restoring the level of EU research funding to the raised level that was approved by the previous European Parliament. 

Science and research need not only money, but also time. The absolute majority of the membership feedback received by the Finnish Union of University Professors concerns the fact that professors lack sufficient time to carry out research. Various time-use surveys and the Union’s own survey reports show that professors’ total annual working hours are filled with a variety of duties related to teaching, the supervision of theses, and expert and administrative tasks. Additionally, the acquisition of external funding is increasingly time consuming. 

‘Professors’ right to take a research period will be a priority issue for our Union in the oncoming collective agreement negotiations’, states Kivistö-Rahnasto.

The collective agreement negotiations concerning the members of University staff will start at the end of January 2020. 

The Council of the Finnish Union of University Professors convened in Helsinki on Friday, 29 November 2019.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Chair Jouni Kivistö-Rahnasto, tel. +358 (0)45 657 5757 

Executive Director Tarja Niemelä, tel. +358 (0)50 340 2725