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Plunge In University-Based Research Funding Alarms Scientists, Students

Aired 1/23/12 on KPBS News.

State funding for scientific research at San Diego State University and at UCSD and other California universities has plunged 30 percent in the last eight years

— California is one of 10 states where support for public research has drastically dropped in less than a decade.

President Obama and Congress recently received a 575-page report called Science and Engineering Indicators.

The report, based on an in-depth national study found California taxpayers invested nearly $5,000 less per university student than they did eight years ago.

Other states, like New York, have increased taxpayer support of university students by 72 percent.

Stephan Welter, vice president of research at SDSU said years of budget cuts have directly hurt science programs and perhaps local biotech businesses.

“The immediate impact won’t be felt. But, what you’re really talking about is closing down a pipeline of highly skilled people as we close down funding for higher institutions,” said Welter.

To help bridge the funding gap, many universities have partnered with private research and development organizations.

That partnership could be at risk as well, if funding for academic researchers continues to decline, said Welter.

“A failure to invest in the sciences is indirectly a failure to invest in our future."

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