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Difficult Times Of Ukrainian Science

Over the years of Ukraine’s Independence the number of scientists in the country has decreased by 3,5 times, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine Maksym Strikha said.

According to him, there was a sharp reduction in funding. This year only 0.16% of GDP is foreseen in the state budget for science. It is an indicator of the underdeveloped countries of Africa. In 2015, state expenses on science were already at an abysmally low 0.3% of GDP. (In 1991 state expenses on science were 2.44% of GDP. In 2011, they reached 0.74%.)

The best scientists leave Ukraine, or have to work in other spheres, said the official.

Recall, that on April 19, 2016, thousands of scientists and researchers marched from Maidan Nezalezhnosti in central Kyiv to the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s Parliament). They were protesting the dire situation of Ukrainian science and demanding increases to the state financing of Ukrainian scientific and research institutions, including the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (NASU) and specialized academies of sciences, including the National Academy of Pedagogic Sciences, Academy of Medical Sciences and the Academy of Agricultural Sciences of Ukraine.

It was the largest such protest of scientists since 1994. Earlier this year, protest actions by Ukrainian scientists took place in the cities of Lviv, Kharkiv, and Odessa.

Every research institution in Ukraine has to reduce its hours of paid employment because there is not enough money to pay entire salaries. Many employees are forced to take unpaid leaves.

State financing of Ukrainian science started dropping after independence in 1991. The ‘brain drain’ started then as well. For instance, the number of researchers in post-Soviet Ukraine decreased three times from 1991 to 2013.

“The number of young scientists has decreased by almost 30%. This is due to the fact that less people take up a scientific profession and that young scientists search for more profitable jobs in the business sector. For example, the salary of a young scientist is now less than 100 Euro because of the currency devaluation. In addition, a large number of young scientists has recently been mobilized in the Armed Forces of the Ukraine and is taking part in anti-terrorist operations”, says Roman Bezus, an Associate Professor at the Dnipropetrovsk State University of Agriculture and Economics.

How much do developed countries spend on research and development? In 2014, Germany spent 2.8% of its GDP; France spent 2.3 per cent; Sweden, 3.2 per cent; Austria, 3 per cent. In the European Union overall, the expenditures on research and development constituted 1.94 per cent.