Scientists rally against research funding cuts
Ljubljana, 19 April - Some 500 Slovenian scientists joined the global March for Science in Ljubljana on Wednesday in protest against cuts in funding of research and innovation. They urged the government to secure more funds in a transparent and predictable way.
The scientists want the budget funding to increase gradually to 1% of GDP by 2020. Instead of phased transition to institutional funding proposed by the relevant ministry, they demand a regular, predictable and transparent mode of stable financing.
They believe the country needs serious legislation to not merely regulate science and research, but to enable, support and stimulate such activity. Moreover, the protesters called for preserving the autonomy of science.
The march was joined by National Assembly Speaker Milan Brglez, who in a press release expressed his support for the scientists' demands and for the autonomy of science and universities. He said that Slovenia's future was in a knowledge-based society.
Support for the march was also expressed by Minister of Education, Science and Sport Maja Makovec Brenčič, who said her team was aspiring to secure more funds, as well as efficient spending and increasing the competitiveness of science in the international environment.
State budget financing of research dropped from EUR 187.1m or 0.76% of GDP in 2011 to EUR 153.8m or 0.44% in 2015. After that the funding started to rise again with EUR 156.4m allocated for research for each this and next year. Funding for higher education also increased to about EUR 100m for this year.
"It's important to boost science funding in Slovenia, in particular stable funding of basic research. The status and funding of science needs to be build up systemically and for the long run, and above all by raising the awareness of the whole society," the minister was quoted as saying.
The ministry noted that under the the current government's term, Slovenia has joined the European Organization for Nuclear Research, the European Space Agency as well as more broadly in ERA-NET initiatives. It also noted increased funding for junior researchers and more cohesion funds for R&D.
The main March for Science will he held on 22 April in Washington, DC, but satellite marches will take place in 600 cities around the globe.