International Affairs

2011 Australian Budget Preserves Research Funding

Despite rumors of significant budget cuts, the 2011 Australian Budget included a 4.3% increase in support to the National Health and Medical  Research Council (NHMRC), the primary provider of funding to Australian biomedical researchers. This news came after reports that there would be a $400 million AUD cut over three years to the NHMRC’s current $715.5 million AUD budget.

Researchers across the country protested this potential slash in funding. In early and mid-April, approximately 12,000 Australian scientists rallied across seven different major cities, including Melbourne and Sydney. A social media campaign with the catch phrase “protect research” was launched, garnering close to 12,000 signatures on a government petition, over 200,000 website views, 8,000 fans on Facebook, and 700 Twitter followers.

After multiple protests and rallies, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard reassured the scientific community that the rumored budget cuts to research funding were being reconsidered. Th e 2011 Australian Budget, released on May 10, revealed that the NHMRC would receive $746.1 million AUD in funding.

ESF-EuroHORCs Merge Falls Through

The proposed merger of the European Science Foundation (ESF) and the European Heads of Research Councils (EuroHORCs) to a single organization failed to obtain the required two-thirds majority in an ESF vote held May 4. A second option to reorganize the current ESF into a strategic lobbying body also was put to a vote but did not receive the required votes to pass.

The ESF, an independent nongovernmental organization, is a primary source of research funding in Europe and works to advance European research and scientific collaboration. Heads of research funding and research performing organizations in Europe make up EuroHORCs, which focuses on research cooperation. Euro-HORCs serve as a representative body for scientific research interests at an international level.

The proposed organization would have served as a replacement for ESF and EuroHORCs and would have been smaller and more streamlined, serving as a united voice for European scientists. Supporters of the merger believed that this new body would more effectively represent the interest of European scientists while contributing to the development of research policy.

Opponents of the merger worried that the new organization would have too much of a focus on policy strategies and little emphasis on research. For more information, visit www.esf.org or www.eurohorcs.org.

July 2011 Table of Contents