Scientific research under threat

Flemish university heads have warned against making cuts in scientific research in Flanders. The university rectors voiced their concerns in an article in the daily De Standaard.

The academics say that last year's cuts were too severe and are concerned that the Flemish Government now intends to go even further. In 2010 the Fund for Scientific Research Flanders had to get by on 3 million euros less. The fund finances indirect knowledge gathering research.

The university heads believe that the Flemish Government intends to impose further cuts increasing total savings to 7.2 million euros. The academics also point to rumour suggesting the Federal Government will cancel its present contribution worth 20% of the total budget.

The rectors say that the fund threatens to lose 37 million euros in all and that 740 scientists will no longer be able to continue their work. The fear is that many will move abroad, if they lose their job here. The academics are getting their word in before a final decision is taken. They reject across the board cuts and suggest such an approach lacks vision and courage.

Leuven University head Mark Waer: "We understand cuts have to be made. We know that in a knowledge-based economy research can help to tackle the economic crisis. We believe cutting research is the wrong approach. It also conflicts with what is happening in neighbouring countries. There too savings are made but not in the sectors that can provide a solution."