UAE | Government

FNC members slam poor funding for scientific research

They call for setting up a fund for boosting scientific research, to which the federal budget, institutions and private companies can contribute

  • By Samir Salama, Asociate Editor
  • Published: 20:22 January 6, 2014
  • Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Members of the Federal National Council (FNC) have decried poor funding for research and weak institutional linkage, demanding that research budgets and spending on facilities be pumped up, a report revealed.

A report prepared by the FNC’s committee on education, youth, media and culture said the UAE spent no more than 0.2 per cent of its GDP (gross domestic product) on research in 2012.

The report, a copy of which was obtained by Gulf News, showed the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research’s funding for scientific research decreased by 15 per cent in 2012, which negatively affects the National Authority for Scientific Research.

Members of the committee found that universities across the country, including the UAE University, Zayed University and Higher College of Technology, contributed just one per cent of their budgets for scientific research.

They called for setting up a fund for boosting scientific research, to which the federal budget, institutions and private companies can contribute.

International level spend

Led by Dr Mona Al Bahar, the committee suggested boosting government spending on scientific research to match international levels, pumping up the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research’s budget for the Scientific Research Authority.

The report, which will be discussed on Tuesday, said five per cent of each ministry’s budget should be allocated for salaries of experts and scientists.

“The allocation should be given to the National Scientific Rersearch Authority to finance scientific rfesearch at universities and help ministries reduce reliance on foreign experts and consultants,” the report said.

The committee also suggested that the Research Authority, private businesses, industry and other sectors be linked and integrated.

The panel demanded that a national system of innovation be built, where a network of public and private institutions work together to create and diffuse science and technology in all areas of the economy.

The FNC meeting will also tackle a motion for issuing a law to organise comprehensive health insurance for citizens.

Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, will be quizzed on how foreign players have been beneficial for the UAE in several team sports.

Other questions about the delay in issuing an antiquities law and the Ministry of Culture’s role in strengthening national identity will also be put to Shaikh Nahyan.

Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, will also be questioned about why the foundation year is still mandatory at universities across the country.

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