According to a new survey released Monday, 81 percent of responding universities said that the automatic federal spending cuts of budget sequestration have directly affected their research activities. More than half of universities said a decrease in new federal grant opportunities, and the shrinking value of existing grants, has prompted them to reduce research-related positions, and nearly a quarter of the institutions said they have laid off research employees as a result of the cuts.
“The survey shows that sequestration is already eroding America’s research capabilities at universities across the country,” the Association of American Universities, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and The Science Coalition announced in a written statement.
(graphic via Inside Higher Ed)
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block has been criticized in the past by student activists for dolling out lavish salaries for high-profile hires amid tuition hikes, budget cuts and recession, but on Monday he stated that a $50 million loss to the university’s research funding could lead to a brain drain, top researchers leaving in a mass exodus.
Block put things in stark terms, reminding members of Congress that many universities have no more emergency funds or administrative flexibility to help compensate for the sequester cuts.
“The buffer is much thinner,” said Block. “So if faculty members lose their grants, if grants don’t get re-funded because of sequestration, there is a limited amount we can do to keep labs running. So if you ask what is the long-term effect? …. Literally labs close and people end up on the street. That’s the danger.”
The negative effects of sequester are already on display in Ohio. Dr. Stan Gerson, director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, spent much of the past year calling members of Congress in hopes they would repeal cuts to research programs. Gerson told WCPN, “It’s real jobs and real people” at stake.
Case, like Michigan, receives some of the biggest federal grants in the U.S. for research.
Of the roughly $400 million Case spends on research annually, about 80 percent comes from federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the Dept. of Defense, and the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
Case’s cancer center offers an example of how sequestration funding is slowly squeezing the budget. This summer, news came that the center’s 5-year operational grant fell by $6 Million.
“It’s undoubtedly the case over an 18-month period that there will be a smaller workforce in our school and our university. Just because, where else are the dollars going to come from?” Gerson says.