RUSSIA: Huge boost to university science

Despite increased funding in recent years, Russian science has not yet recovered from a near collapse in the 1990s and the consequent exodus of thousands of researchers to the West, writes Quirin Schiermeier for Nature News. In an attempt to counter the decline and to foster science-driven innovation, the government is betting on its universities, promising to invest an extra 90 billion roubles (US$3 billion) into higher education and market-oriented university research over the next decade, on top of an annual university research budget of about 20 billion roubles.

But doubts remain about whether the initiatives can overcome weaknesses in universities and the long-standing dominance of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the largest basic research organisation in the country. The academy, which employs more than 50,000 researchers in 480 institutes across the country, gets about 50 billion roubles per year in funding from the federal government.

Yet it suffers from an ageing scientific workforce and poor links with the international scientific community. As Russia struggles to overcome its economic dependence on mineral exports, academy researchers are criticised for contributing too little to Russia's transformation into a high-tech economy.
Full report on the Nature News site