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New Survey Finds U.S. Sequester Has Meant Less Academic Research

11 November 2013 2:00 pm
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A new survey of U.S. universities tries to quantify the impact of the budget cuts known as the sequester, which was a target of researchers demonstrating in Washington, D.C., this past April.

David Malakoff/Science

Quantifying the sequester. A new survey of U.S. universities tries to quantify the impact of the budget cuts known as the sequester, which was a target of researchers demonstrating in Washington, D.C., this past April.

This year’s mandatory across-the-board budget cuts to U.S. research agencies have translated into less money for academic scientists and delays in their research projects.

A survey of public and private U.S. research universities released today finds that 70% of the 74 respondents report that sequestration has caused a reduction in federal research grants to their institutions and has slowed campus-based research. The biggest effects are fewer student positions (31%), a reduction in temporary or part-time staff positions (30%), and a decline in postdoctoral fellows (24%). Some 22% of respondents said they also have had to reduce the number of permanent staff members.

The survey, conducted last month, polled 171 members of the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. “The survey shows that sequestration is already eroding America’s research capabilities at universities across the country,” according to a statement issued by the two organizations and by The Science Coalition, which lobbies for academic research.

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