Cuts in Romania’s scientific research funding cause mass resignation from National Research Council

Romania’s Ministry of Education, Research, Youth and Sport is looking for 19 replacements for the country’s National Research Council (CNCS), the main research funding agency in Romania, after the council members resigned in protest over backdated cuts to previously approved research grants.

The cuts to 2013 budgets, by between 40 and 55 percent, appear to have been a shock for Romania’s scientific community, given their sudden announcement well into the year. There is a sense of bewilderment in the open letter, dated April 9, sent to PM Victor Ponta, Minister of Education Remus Pricopie and Minister of Research Mihnea Costoiu and signed by hundreds of Romanian researchers. According to the open letter, “no justification was offered for either the general reduction in funds or for the uneven reduction between different types of projects.”

The move appears to be an attempt by the Romanian government to redirect the focus of research spending, but it has resulted in a clash with CNCS, ultimately causing the mass resignations. Science Insider details the case of Romanian paleoclimatologist Bogdan Onac of the University of South Florida, who used grants awarded in 2011 to hire graduate research students in Romania. After being hit with a 45 percent cut in his 2013 grant, Onac said his Romanian collaborators could be hurt. “I will just keep going until I finish the grant money and then I will just stop working with them,” said Onac, quoted by Science Insider.

The whole affair reminds of the tiff between Romania’s Cultural Institute and the Social Liberal Union (USL) government last year. Leadership resignations, cuts in funding and a questioning of the projects supported by the government also appeared in the row between the government and the Cultural Institute.

Read the Science Insider article.

Read the open letter from Romanian researchers to the government.

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