Volume 93 Issue 22 | pp. 24-26
Issue Date: June 1, 2015
Issue Date: June 1, 2015
2013 Academic Spending Trends
Interactive Table:School Spending On Chemical R&D
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Worries about academic research funding fuel angst in university scientists all over the U.S. Data released annually by the National Science Foundation on academic spending trends give researchers a chance to explore how their departments compare with the larger R&D community. In addition, these numbers can influence recruitment of faculty and graduate students.
According to NSF’s most recent report, academic spending was fairly stable from 2012 to 2013. Overall, academic spending in 2013 was $63.4 billion, up 58% from $40.1 billion a decade earlier. That increase is smaller when adjusted for inflation—the 2013 figures amount to $51.5 billion in 2003 dollars, up just 28% in the past decade—but it still represents an upward trend. (The accompanying tables and graphs show spending in current dollars, except where noted.)
The life sciences remained the prevailing force in academic science and technology spending. That discipline consumed 59% of the overall R&D budget in both 2003 and 2013, the NSF data show. Engineering overall had the biggest increase as a share of spending, up 79% over the past decade. Chemistry saw a small decline as a share of the overall budget, from 3.1% to 2.7%.
For universities, the federal government remained by far the dominant player in research support. But the amount of federal spending peaked at $39.7 billion in 2011 and then began a slow decline. Industry support has risen slowly, but institutions themselves also picked up some of the slack. Their spending on research climbed to $13.3 billion in 2013, almost double the amount they provided a decade earlier.
The trends in chemistry department spending were also generally upward from 2012 to 2013. California Institute of Technology, the top-funded chemistry department, spent $46.4 million in 2013, with 87% of those funds from the federal government. That was down from Caltech’s 2012 spending numbers, but it received more than double the overall money it spent in 2003.
The top-spending chemical engineering department, the University of Texas, Austin, shelled out almost the same as Caltech’s largest-spending chemistry department, $46.2 million in 2013. However, only 33% of that chemical engineering program’s spending was supported by federal dollars. An almost equal amount—37%—came from industry.
Only a handful of the highest-spending chemistry departments were in the country’s top-spending research institutions for science and technology overall. The top research spender in 2013, Johns Hopkins University, had the ninth-ranked chemistry department in terms of spending. Other top 10 highest-spending chemistry departments in the top 25 for overall spending were the University of California, San Diego; Harvard University; Georgia Institute of Technology; and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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