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Open letter To the Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta, Minister of National Education Remus Pricopie and Minister of Research Mihnea Costoiu

Subject: IDEI and PARTENERIATE Research Projects

Funding Dear Prime Minister,
Dear Ministers,

On behalf of the scientists included in the list attached herewith, the undersigned Dr. Corina Ionescu, university professor at the Faculty of Biology and Geology, Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca, Director of Grant PN II-ID-PCE-2011-3-0881, would like to bring to your attention the situation created in the Romanian research by the recent cuts in the funding of the Parteneriate, IDEI PCE and IDEI PCCE projects of type National Plan (PN) II and respectfully ask you to restore the budget agreed in their contracts signed in 2011.

Three years have passed since the crisis caused by the poor management of funds designated for research (2010). The announcement yesterday by UEFISCDI through which we were told of the reduction by 40-55% of the budget for the Parteneriate Projects, for the IDEI Exploratory Research Projects and for the IDEI Complex Exploratory Research Projects, places us in an even worse situation, especially since this announcement was made nearly halfway through the year.

Furthermore, no justification was offered for either the general reduction in funds or for the uneven reduction between different types of projects. On what basis was it decided that the cuts of the funds for IDEI projects should be at 55%, Partnership projects 40%, IDEI TE projects 0% and Human Resources projects 0%?

Aside from this, if there is no money to fund currently on-going projects, why are there new calls for projects being initiated?

We respectfully remind you that:
1. Research cannot be carried out when budgets are cut, after the first year, by up to 55%. Research is a continuous process, not one improvised, in leaps imposed by unpredictable funding. Research is carried out according to a pre-established plan, which includes three main categories of expenses: salary, logistics and travel. Each section of the project budget was thought out in function of the specifics of the project, with a clear relation between the number of members, the logistical necessities and the chronological stages, in order to achieve the projectís objectives.
2. The research of masterís and doctoral students involved in these projects can no longer be sustained. This jeopardises not only their learning process but also if and when they will finish their studies.
3. Running a scientific project usually entails international commitments.

These measures will have severe effects in the future:
1. The breakup of research teams. The members employed solely through these projects have to face two options: a) accept a reduced salary unilaterally imposed by the contracting authority, or b) leave the university or the institute.
2. For the personnel of projects carried out within the network of national institutes of research and development the actual amount of money remaining after the cuts cannot even cover the originally agreed salaries (when the full-time employment at the host institution was an obligatory condition for the projectís funding).
3. The turning upside down of the research in Romania through the continuation of its underfunding. We no longer believe in the promises that we will receive the remaining sums of money in 2014. The same situation happened in the period 2010-2011, when in the end the budgets were reduced to 45% of their initial amount, with the promises of this being remedied - something which never took place.
4. The regression of Romanian research and the continuation of Romania coming in the last places in the international world of science. Iran and Turkey, not to mention China, are more aware that their future as nations lies in education and research.
5. Failing to honour international commitments already assumed for 2013 (collaborations, attending scientific meetings).

In the light of the above situation, in your role as Prime Minister of the Government of Romania, we demand that you urgently reconsider the current situation and implement the necessary measures for appropriate funding of Romanian scientific research, in particular to allocate to the above mentioned projects the amounts of money set out when the projects were initiated and contracted.

Prof. Dr. Corina Ionescu

The open letter with 361 signatures at April 23, 2013:

The Romanian version:

Posted by Lucian Stefan Ancu


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