Higher education institutions are second only to Swedish companies when it comes to R&D in Sweden, and in terms of pure research they are the prime players. In 2005 Swedish universities turned over at least SEK 19 billion for research, compared with SEK 12 billion in the business community.
Foreign funding on the rise
The most noticeable change in the funding picture regarding Swedish research in the last few years is the increase in financing from abroad, from SEK 2.6 billion in 1999 to SEK 8 billion in 2005. Most of this funding went to companies. Of the third that went to the higher education sector, the majority was from the EU.
Trend shift in 2002
The primary focus of the report is what resources for universities and university colleges look like and how they are distributed. What characterizes the ten-year period under review is that the proportion of direct government allocations declined, despite having grown by SEK 1 billion. Overall, income grew up to 2002 and then stagnated.
“Reduced funding has primarily affected the agricultural sciences, but in 2005 the curves showed for the first time in ten years a negative development also for the domains of the humanities and natural sciences and engineering”, says Per Hyenstrand, analyst at the Swedish Research Council and one of the authors of the report. In the social sciences and medicine, on the other hand, funding has increased in the last few years.
Changes in university world
Funding for research and postgraduate education at universities and university colleges increased 34 percent over the ten-year period, above all owing to increases in so-called external funding. However, this boost in resources must be seen in relation to changes in operations over the same period. Some key figures are:
• Resources for undergraduate education rose by 33 percent
• The number of students registered grew by 38 percent
• The number of doctoral students went up by 16 percent
• 54 percent of doctoral students have doctoral studentship
• The number of doctoral students completing their doctorates per year rose by nearly 82 percent
• The total number of employees at universities and university colleges increased by 37 percent
• The number of professorships more than doubled and the number of assistant professors rose by 35 percent
The number of doctoral degrees thus increased considerably more than economic resources did. More personnel and shifts in the composition of personnel have entailed that a larger proportion of resources goes to salaries. At the same time, an ever smaller share of resources is being used for investments (equipment, machines, etc.): in 1997 investments constituted 6.4 percent of total R&D costs; by 2005 the share had shrunk to 3.9 percent.
“These figures explain why many researchers today are experiencing that their economic conditions are deteriorating—quite simply, more people are sharing the resources,” observes Pär Omling, Director General of the Swedish Research Council.
The report “Finansiering av forskning inom den svenska högskolan 1995-2006” (“Funding for research in Swedish higher education instiutions 1995-2006”) can be downloaded at: www.vr.se. The report is in Swedish but has an English summary. In addition, a selection of the graphs in the report has been translated and can be found at http://www.vr.se/2.69f66a93108e85f68d480000.html