29 Jan 2019   |   News

University heads hit out at Romania’s prolonged budget limbo

Budget delay puts ‘extremely high’ pressure on Romanian universities, vice rectors say

Research minister Nicolae Hurduc has yet to announce 2019 budget. Photo: www.gov.ro

Concerns are mounting in Romania over the delayed 2019 budget, with university researchers left without funding to pay for materials and equipment.

Universities can cover researchers’ salaries but until the government passes the budget, “research activities foreseen by projects cannot be conducted,” said Dan Vodnar, vice rector for research at the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine in Cluj Napoca.

Unlike national research centres, universities cannot advance researchers money to continue their projects. Procurement of materials and equipment is not possible until the ministry actually wires the money.

Universities have to pay the base salaries of researchers out of their own funds and that is taking a toll on their limited budgets. “Unfortunately, the financial pressure on universities is extremely high,” Vodnar said.

Romanian universities do not have a constant stream of funding for research but instead rely on national projects, which are often delayed.

“This is absurd,” said Daniel David, vice rector for research at Babeș-Bolyai University. As things stand, Romanian universities cannot become competitive internationally, he says. “It has a negative impact on innovation, [the country’s] competitiveness and the quality of life of Romanians.”

The association of Romanian researchers previously said the delay “has catastrophic effects on the national research system.”

Both universities and researchers in national institutes want the government to meet the funding levels promised and established in the national research and innovation strategy in 2014, of 0.83 per cent of GDP for 2019 and 0.97 per cent for 2020.

In 2018, funding was less than a quarter of that promised in the national research and innovation strategy, with more than 20 per cent of the €350 million originally earmarked for research being reallocated to other budgets. Researchers put the blame on the frequent changes in leadership at the ministry for the chaos in Romanian research funding.

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