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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Reseach spending to hit an all time high

Preliminary figures show that the UA will secure its highest-ever level of research and development spending in 2010.

Total research and development spending at the UA will reach $587 million in 2010, a $242 million increase from a decade ago, according to statistics furnished by Caroline Garcia, UA associate vice president for research.

“”My understanding of the research expenditures of the UA is that they continue to rise, particularly with our faculty’s success in the competitive stimulus funds,”” wrote UA President Robert Shelton in an email.

In the last 10 years, UA research and development spending has consistently risen year-to-year, with an exception from 2006 to 2007, when expenditures decreased by $4 million overall. This fall was in part due to a $32 million decrease in federally financed expenditures.    

Overall, the share of national university research and development funding that is federally financed declined to 59 percent total spending, down five percent from 2004, according to the National Science Foundation. Overall, research and development spending has increased notably during that same time frame thanks in part to increased financing from industry components.

Total research spending for higher education has likewise increased at a 5.8 percent clip in fiscal year 2009, and now totals $54.935 billion nationally.

At the UA, federal funding for research and development totaled $287.9 million in 2009, and accounted for the lion’s share of the UA’s $545.9 million in total research and development expenditures that year. Though 2010 numbers have not yet been finalized, the UA is expecting the federal commitment to jump to $308 million, its highest level since 2006. This increase accounts for almost the entirety of the expected $22 million increase in overall research and development spending from last year.

One reason for the UA’s decline in federal funds spending from 2004 to 2009 may be the growing role of Arizona State University as a research institution. The UA slipped from 25th to 37th in federally financed research expenditures, one of the steepest drops of any university ranked in the top 100 for those funds. ASU however, experienced one of the most meteoric rises, climbing 30 places to now sit at 76th in the nation. ASU also ranked 17th nationally for research and development expenditures in fields other than science and engineering, according to the National Science Foundation.

In 2008, the UA ranked 16th nationally for research and development spending at public universities, good for fourth in the Pacific 10 Conference behind the University of California, Los Angeles (4th), University of Washington (6th) and University of California, Berkeley (12th). UCLA, UW, Stanford University and UC Berkeley all rank below the UA in the top 20 nationally for total research and development spending.

Nationally, some fields are doing better  than others. For instance, spending in the fields of aeronautics and astronautical engineering increased by 16.4 and 14.2 percent respectively, while spending for mathematics decreased by 10.9 percent.

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