University of Tartu was successful in this year’s call for proposals for institutional research grants
According to the preliminary resolution of Estonian Research Council, institutional research grant (IUT) for 2014 will be awarded to 38 research topics of the University of Tartu in the total amount of 6.5 million euros. UT applied for 57 IUT in 2013. Grant was also awarded to seven core infrastructure applications submitted by UT.
Altogether, 75 topics from different scientific research establishments of Estonia received state funding in this year's call in total amount of 13.4 million euros.
According to Vice Rector for Research Marco Kirm, the University of Tartu did well in receiving IUT's also this year, university as a whole is about to get more money within IUT for 2014 compared with this year. At the same time, a series of applications did not pass such intense competition.
According to Marco Kirm, the university is definitely going to look for possibilities for funding important research directions even if these were only narrowly left without funding. Although IUT makes up the majority of the research and development budget, it is still only one of many research funding instruments. Scientists of the university have successfully applied for funding during recent years from more than a hundred different funding schemes.
It is possible for the university to redirect funds inside the university. At this point we should emphasize that IUT’s are not personal research grants and not only the persons referred to in the application should be funded on account of IUT's.
According to the valid law, scientific staff work at university mostly with a fixed-term contract and nobody should be surprised at the fact that science funding and research are project-based. Irrespective of the end of research projects, the employment contracts will be valid until their expiration date. Employment contracts are concluded in compliance with the valid procedure, further continuation of the employment relationship is agreed not at the level of the management of the university but rather at the level of faculty, institute and research group based on substantive arguments related to research. “The aim of our university is definitely not to finance all members of the workgroups, which have narrowly been left without funding, but to ensure the best scientists, who could pull the chestnuts out of the fire in next calls for proposals, the possibility to continue,” says Marco Kirm.
Institutional research grants were awarded last year for the first time when 21 successful applications of UT received the total of 4.5 million euros. With this new funding scheme, which replaces the targeted financing of science topics, the state wishes to reduce fragmentation of science funding and to ensure the scientific research establishments stable quality-based funding. The process is still pending as it is difficult to implement changes if total funding is not increased. However, it can already be observed that compared with earlier targeted financing of science topics the topics of IUT are larger, and thus fragmentation is decreasing.
The University of Tartu together with other scientific research establishments have made several proposals to the state in order to reach the targets of IUT even more and to decrease the project-based science in Estonia. Before the call for proposals in 2013, the application terms and conditions of IUT’s were changed and the assessment criteria of the applications were specified. Due to significance of IUT’s, everything related to them has repeatedly been discussed inside the university, e.g. it has been under discussion in the Senate six times during 2013 and scientists have also been informed of that.
Estonian Research Council will wait for feedback of scientific research establishments on their preliminary financing proposal until 18 October 2013. According to Marco Kirm, they can be satisfied with the preliminary resolution as the total financing of the university for 2014 will exceed this year’s total amount of targeted financing of the science topics and IUT approximately with EUR 700,000. Currently, main executors and action plans are being specified with the heads of IUT topics and feedback on applications’ reviews are being collected. The university wishes to increase the part of the component of institutional financing based on quality in financing research and development in Estonia in future, too.
Management of Estonian Research Council will make a proposal to the Minister of Education and Research regarding granting IUT applications on 25 October, the grants will be allocated from the state budget via the budget of Estonian Ministry of Education and Research next year.