The Research Council receives an extra NOK 1.64 billion

– With this, the government puts an end to the mess from the previous government and ensures long-term sustainability and predictability for Norwegian research environments, says Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

In the new balancing of the state budget for 2022, the government proposes NOK 1.64 billion to the Research Council.

– With this, we ensure a quick and lasting solution for Norwegian research after a period of much uncertainty. Without this money, the Research Council would have had to reduce the calls for new research projects by around 60 per cent next year, despite a roughly unchanged level of funding from the Storting, says Research and Higher Education Minister Ola Borten Moe.

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– Through a powerful one-off measure, we balance most of the budget items for Norwegian research through the Research Council, and ensure the activity of Norwegian research without further cuts. It gives us all the opportunity to look ahead again, says Research and Higher Education Minister Ola Borten Moe.

Secures FRIPRO for young researchers

Fact

Item 52 Long-term, basic research

The government proposes to increase licensing by NOK 670 million. The funds must be used for allocations and payment obligations linked to Free Project Support (FRIPRO).

Item 53 Cross-sector and strategic initiatives

The government proposes to increase licensing by NOK 730 million. The funds are to be used for payment obligations for already allocated projects.

Item 54 Research infrastructure of national, strategic interest

The government proposes to increase the licensing amount by NOK 240 million. The funds are to be used for payment obligations for already allocated projects.

Initially, the Research Council has canceled the entire award of free project support for research in 2023. However, with this they can still award Fripro to young research talents in 2023.

– I am very happy that we are now ensuring continuity and opportunities for our most talented and young researchers, by allocating funds already in 2023, says Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

– We do this so as not to miss out on our most talented researchers at the start of their careers, says Støre.

This single measure has been the most requested by an entire sector following the problems in the Research Council.

The Storting must allocate funds to young research talents

Fripro for younger researchers can now be announced in early 2023 and awarded in the autumn, confirms the Research Council. But the next ordinary Fripro call is still postponed so that the award will not be made until 2024.

A day of joy!

– This is a day of joy! It’s a big hit for us and our members, says leader Guro Lind of the Norwegian Association of Researchers.

Lind says that this is something the union has worked hard for. The government calculates that the allocation to younger researchers will amount to approximately NOK 240 million next year.

– Unfortunately, I am in Copenhagen. If not, I should have come to the Storting with flowers and cake. All credit to SV who has raised this in the negotiations on the budget. There is also reason to praise Ap and Sp who have now listened to the sector, says the union leader.

– There are now funds for young researchers to apply for in 2023 as well, and that is important for Norwegian research as a whole, says Lind.

She is now looking ahead to the long-term plan for research for the coming four-year period. This plan was put forward by the government last autumn, but no money came with it.

– I hope that we can get a corresponding cross-party boost for the long-term plan for research that will be considered in the Storting in the new year, says Lind.

Sunniva Whittaker, who is chairman of the University and College Council, would like to thank the government for listening to the signals from a united sector to strengthen Norwegian research.

With this money, we avoid a disaster

When the revised national budget was presented in May, the government notified the Storting of major irregularities and challenges in the Research Council’s budgets. The Research Council adopted a number of cost-saving measures which have caused great concern in the research environment.

With this, the government hopes to put an end to it, the press release states.

Both DFØ, KPMG and the National Audit Office have pointed out that the Research Council has broken the grant regulations and has not had sufficient financial management. This has contributed to putting Norwegian research in a very difficult situation.

– There has been a great need to clean up poor business management, one-off cuts from the Solberg government and extensive breaches of financial and grant regulations. We have now done that. We have installed a new board, and we have given the Research Council more flexibility and time to clean up. Now we propose to spend an extra 1.64 billion to bring the economy into balance. With this money, we avoid a disaster for Norwegian research, says Research and Higher Education Minister Ola Borten Moe.

The Research Council has gone sharply into the red, because over time it has spent more money than it has covered. Total overspending is estimated at around NOK 3.5 billion. Before this move, the Research Council itself adjusted the level of activity down by NOK 1.9 billion.

– I am very happy for this money and the trust that the government is showing the Research Council. In the past, there has been too little control and management of the overall allocation level. This is now history. This is a very good day for Norwegian research environments, says chairman of the Research Council, Kristin Halvorsen.

I would like to praise the entire government, with Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and Minister of Research and Higher Education Ola Borten Moe at the forefront, says chairman of the Research Council Kristin Halvorsen. Photo: Julia Loge

There is still a need for good management and control

Even with this, the measures that the Research Council has adopted will have to be carried out, with the exception of the postponed announcement of free project support for young research talents.

– That a one-off grant of 1.64 billion in combination with down-adjusted activity in the Research Council of approximately the same amount does not leave room for further growth in activities underlines the seriousness of the situation we have had to deal with. Going forward, I will place great emphasis on good business and financial management in the Research Council, so that similar situations will not arise again. Norwegian research deserves predictability and a steady and high level of activity, says Research and Higher Education Minister Ola Borten Moe.

The deficit is deleted

“With this, the remaining deficit in the Research Council is erased, and there will be no need for new tightening measures in research funding in the future”, writes the Research Council in a press release.

– Within six months, the government has solved a major problem for Norwegian research that has been built up over several years. Now we can look ahead, says a relieved Halvorsen.

The CEO of the Research Council, Mari Sundli Tveit, is also very satisfied.

– This one-off move by the government is absolutely crucial for the future of research Norway and the sector. Today we all have a good opportunity to celebrate, says Sundli Tveit.

The past year has shown that the Research Council’s financial situation is very demanding to get to grips with. “Negative provisions” is the expression used to mean that the Research Council has promised more money in the coming years than has been covered.

The Ministry of Education confirms the Research Council’s presentation that these negative provisions will now become history.

The various ministries have different records for the allocation of money to the Research Council, but the Ministry of Education is by far the largest. The Ministry of Education also has overall responsibility for the Research Council.

The Ministry of Education informs Forskerforum that the most recent forecasts, before today’s extra allocation, showed negative provisions of NOK 1.59 billion on the Ministry of Education’s records to the Research Council at the end of 2023.

Closes budget gaps

Now this hole in the Research Council’s budget must be closed, in addition to the other deficits on other budget items.

– With an allocation of NOK 1.64 billion, there will thus no longer be negative provisions aggregated, nor on KD chapter 285, writes the ministry in an email to Forskerforum.

The Ministry of Education states that the measures that the Research Council has already implemented have an estimated savings effect of NOK 1.5 billion at the end of 2025 and a total of NOK 1.9 billion. Altogether, this will cover the need for money, which according to the proposal for the state budget for 2023 was NOK 3.1 billion at the end of next year.

The Research Council is in the process of introducing a new budget model, which can provide better control over future expenses and income.

  • Read more about the budget for 2023:




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