Research universities demand funding for basic research

The League of European Research Universities (LERU) underlines the significance of funding for basic research. The LERU is particularly concerned over the public funding of universities, which is deemed vital in a statement signed by the respective Rectors of the LERU’s member universities.

Research universities demand funding for basic research

The LERU says that European research is world-leading but it focuses too much on topics where co-operation is carried out with the industry.

Information provided through basic research can only rarely be directly applied in practice. Innovations are complex processes, and a new application is often found by accident – human capital is compiled when conducting basic research, and companies also need that capital in order to be successful.

In its statement, the LERU also expresses its concern over the ever tighter competition in the academic sector. China, for example, is already making considerably more extensive investments in its universities and research institutes than Europe.

The message of the LERU is particularly intended for the European Council which will address an innovation union notice at its meeting on 4 February. The notice serves as the basis for the EU’s research and innovation policy in the future.

Thomas Wilhelmsson, Rector of the University of Helsinki is one of those who have signed the statement. Wilhelmsson admits that the situation in Finland still is relatively good in comparison to the rest of Europe, although more public resources in Finland have also clearly been allocated to applied research. However, Wilhelmsson emphasises that basic research will also be important in the future.

What about the private donations collected by universities – do they steer research to a more applied direction?

– This is not the case for the University of Helsinki. However, the overall situation is different. Applied engineering sciences have been the most successful in fund-raising, instead of those conducting basic research, says Wilhelmsson.

The League of European Research Universities (LERU) » »

The full statement of the LERU on its website » »

Text: Juha Merimaa
Photo: Wilma Hurskainen
Translation: AAC Global

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