For the third year in a row the number of scientists in institutions and organizations that are financed from the budget continues to decline.
As reported by Rosstat (Russia’s statistics agency – RRT), by the end of 2016 the total number of researchers in budgetary institutions was 80,211 people. Compared with 2013, they became 27 thousand people (or 25%) less.
The reason for the layoffs is a drastic reduction in the state funding of science. According to the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 268 billion rubles ($4.75 billion – RRT) was allocated for science last year. This is only 1.6% of the whole federal budget, which is the minimum level in 12 years.
An increase in planned for 2017: up to 336 billion rubles ($6 billion – RRT). However, it is only for restoring the financing of the space program, which was cut by almost 80% in 2016.
The budget of the Federal Agency of Scientific Organizations was decided to reduce by 10%, to 74.6 billion rubles ($1.32 billion – RRT).
Evgeni Onischenko, who is a physicist and a member of the Union of the workers of the Russian Academy of Sciences, says that without financial support the “Strategy of scientific and technological development of Russia – 2035”, which sets the goal to become one of the world leaders in science, is nothing but a “piece of paper with beautiful words.”
“In all countries the fundamental science is the area of financial responsibility of the country. Currently, the GDP share that is allocated for the fundamental research is 1.5-2 times lower than in Hungary, Greece, Poland and Portugal, not to mention more developed countries, so any talking about ‘leading positions’ is a deliberate show off,” says Onishchenko.
According to him, scientific institutions might suffer another wave of layoffs: the management of the institutes must comply with the presidential decree, which requires that the average salary in the scientific sphere be not lower than 200% of the average for the region.
“If the institutes are required to increase salaries, the layoffs are inevitable,” Onishchenko said.