Some Words about
There are 75 research institutions in SB RAS and 11 designing bureaus and pilot plants carrying out research in mathematics and physics, engineering and technology, chemistry and biology, Earth science, humanities and economics. (see Research Institute of SB RAS). About half of scientific potential of SB RAS is concentrated in Novosibirsk Research Centre.
A wide network of biological and geological research stations carry out field and stationary research in biosphere and geosphere
The research centers of SB RAS are integrated with Universities and other Siberian colleges forming regional research and educational centers (RREC) in Barnaul, Krasnoyarsk, Omsk, Tyumen. Universities and colleges of Novosibirsk, Tomsk, Ulan-Ude, Yakutsk work in close contact with the research centers of the SB RAS.
In 1990 -1994 the general quantity of people employed by SB RAS decreased by 23.3% (in 1993 the decrease in researchers employed by SB RAS was 1645, and decrease in parascientific employees was 1389). The dynamics of research staff of SB RAS.
There are around 11 000 researchers working at present at SB RAS (in Novosibirsk research centre there are 6 000) including 1258 Doctors of sciences and 5278 Candidates of sciences (in Novosibirsk research centre respectively 811 and 2951). The age of researchers is below 33 - 17.2%, 33-50 - 54.4%, over 50 - 28.4%.
The structure of financial support to research institutions of SB RAS has changed significantly. In 1990, the budgetary support was 39.2% of the general financing, 18.8% was special-purpose financing of the Ministry of Science, the institutes themselves earned about 42% from contracts with industry.
Industrial crisis drastically reduced contracts with the institutes and they now represent about 10% of their financing. The loss of this source of income was offset, although by no means completely, by various grants and hard-currency earnings from contracts with foreign partners. Therefore, budgetary support, however reduced, constitutes the major part (65%) of the general financing of research institutions.
In 1993 - 1994 Institutes of the SB RAS held annually about 35 - 40 international conferences and symposia. About 1500 foreign scientists visit annually the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The expenses of the foreign trips of Siberian researchers were covered mostly by the inviting parties or by Soros Foundation. Only due to this the decline in the number of foreign trips was insignificant (from 1805 in 1992 to 1756 in 1993).
At present the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences is a well-developed and territorially distributed system of complex research centres embracing practically all main urban, political and national centres in Siberia. A powerful research and experimental base has been formed including nationally important pilot and experimental plants, a well-developed network of geological and biological research stations carrying out systematic research for long periods of time. Unfortunately, recently organized Tyumen and Omsk research centres could not achieve fully-fledged development because of reduced financing.
In order to concentrate our efforts on the most important interdisciplinary problems of the world science, major projects of the Russian Academy of Sciences and national scientific and technical programmes the following priority scientific and technological programmes have been worked out and pursued in SB RAS:
The integration of the research centres of SB RAS with Siberian Universities and colleges resulted in the creation of Regional Scientific and Educational Complexes (RSECs) in Barnaul, Krasnoyarsk and Omsk. Their efficient operation is hindered at present by the crisis of Russian science and higher education which can be attributed to insufficient financing as well as low prestige of higher education and learning especially in the field of natural sciences.
This programme has from the very beginning brought closer and facilitated the coordination of operation of research, academic and industrial institutions of the region. As a result of its activity coordination councils were established, panel meetings and joint conferences were held which strengthened the ties of science and industry, accelerated the scientific progress in industry and oriented their joint efforts to the regional requirements and needs.
The regional scientific and technical programme "Siberia'' is primarily supported now by Interregional Association "Siberian Accord'' which unites at present 19 subjects ( i.e. major administrative and political units) of Russian Federation which is at the same time its main customer. The financing of the programme "Siberia'' comes from different sources main of which are:
Previously, without expert opinion of SB RAS specialists having at their disposal a wealth of information on Siberian nature and economy no decision on major economic project in Siberia had been made. Now the scientific expertise in the eastern part of the country is mostly neglected which has already led to some hasty decisions.
In the course of reforms brought about complete disintegration of the previously existing system of interactions between scientists of the SB RAS and the industry of the country.
As a result, SB RAS temporarily had to change its priorities and focus on relations with foreign partners. Many of its Institutes (e.g. Novosibirsk Institute of Catalysis, Institute of Thermal Physics, Institute of Nuclear Physics, Unified Institute of Geology, geophysics and mineralogy etc) making use of already obtained results enter into contracts with foreign companies.
SB RAS intended on the basis of scientific and industrial cooperation with foreign partners to expand existing research centres adding to their structure compact science-intensive enterprises thus turning these research centres into a kind of technnoparks. An example of such an activity is setting up of a Russian-Thailand joint venture "Tyrus''specialized in the production of precious stones and the Russian-German Tomographic Centre in Novosibirsk research centre. Unfortunately, political and economic instability in our country make foreign investors who seem interested in this kind of business rather shy.
The situation could be soon improved under two conditions:
Technological and scientific parks seem promising because of the following:
The recent economic crisis resulted in the fact that the real financing now is one fifth of what it was in 1990 (Fig. 6). The sharp decline in industry, especially military and industrial complex practically destroyed this source of financing. To a certain extent this has been offset by contracts with foreign firms. At present the proportion of budgetary and non-budgetary financing is 60:49, i.e. the real non-budgetary financing has reduced 5-6 times.
Recently, the cost structure of the Institutes has changed significantly. The proportion of salaries and wages has grown from 1987 to 1993 from 37.5% to 64.5% and the proportion of costs of materials and equipment dropped from 27% to 5 %.
The situation is deteriorating very rapidly. Many institutes have stopped purchases of equipment, conserved some larger plants, drastically reduced field works and some experimental research.
Price hikes, especially with respect to energy, led to unheard of increase in overheads which was most painful to experimental basis and infrastructure (experimental plants, housing, nursery schools, health service etc.)
The construction of resident houses for researchers must be now financed by researchers themselves and after a short period of optimism difficult financial situation made the scientific community in Siberia lose interest in such innovations.
The faulty and insufficient budgetary financing made it necessary for SB RAS to set up a special bank "Sibakadembank'' allowing the Institutes of SB RAS to manipulate financial resources and be granted low-interest credits. Affiliations of the Bank have been opened also in Tomsk and Ulan-Ude.
To declare more redundancies under conditions of decreased financing is senseless as it would mean the end of the Branch. Nevertheless, the number of people on the SB RAS payroll has reduced by 20.7% over last four years. It can be attributed to very small salaries, inadequate material and equipment supply, changes in housing policy of the country so that the Institute cannot now grant an apartment to a person working there.
More and more scientists permanently or temporarily leave the country (about 160 researchers a year).Russian scientists are in high demand in the West which is an indirect proof of the generally high level of our science. Most researchers have been employed by leading organizations and corporations in the USA (35%), Germany (20%), France (15%), Japan (7%) and other countries.
In order to retain its basic labour potential SB RAS introduced a contractual system of payment to its leading researchers which provided a social protection to actively working scientists. In addition, special measures have been taken to support young researchers. Special scholarships and fellowships have been established for post-graduate students much greater that those offered by the Government, a system of bonuses has been introduced for researchers taking their Doctorate degree (younger than 40) and Candidate degree (younger than 30), some institutes cover some or all the costs of young scientists attending international scientific conferences, the decision has been made to create a special housing fund for young scientists etc.
About 4 000 researchers have left the SB RAS (200 Doctors and 1600 Candidates of Sciences). The measures taken by SB RAS helped it to some extent recover its scientific potential. Over the same period the general number of researchers reduced only by a thousand people whereas the number of Candidates decreased only by 420 people, and the number of Doctors even increased by 240 people.
16 international research centres set up by Siberian Branch of RAS and functioning as non-governmental organizations (as open institutes ) to some extent helped us to deal with the problem of brain leakage. Some of our scientists come back. Foreign scientists come to Siberia attracted by unique natural objects, such as Lake Baikal, Altai mountains, Siberian taiga etc., pioneering experimental plants of the SB RAS and achievements of some of our scientific teams.
One more difficult problem is the maintenance of the equipment and the largest experimental plants, such as solar radiotlescope and set of observatories in Irkutsk, experimental plant for the investigation of space particles in Yakutsk, system of unique accelerators of elementary particles in Novosibirsk etc. These plants help us to keep up to the world standards.
It is quite evident, that the SB RAS will not be able to afford creating new centres. That is why we see our main task in operating and maintaining them and pin our hopes on the Ministry of Science of the Russian Federation which could provide assistance also through federal research centrees created by it.
The General Meeting of SB RAS approved the suggestion of the Presidium of SB RAS to centralize part of the finances in order to coordinate the solution of the problems common for many of the Institutes.
Unfortunately, the unique Russian experiment may perish because such a combination of research, designing, industrial and social infrastructure providing efficient functioning of the SB RAS over the entire period of its existence now threatens the very existence of science in the eastern part of the country. SB RAS cannot any more afford maintaining these complexes and their complete separation from scientific and designing activity destroy the unified system of research centres. The situation calls for original decisions on the state level.
Siberian research centres are situated at a considerable (up to 30 km) distance from the city centres and SB RAS has to maintain the utilities and power structures (large boilers, 700 km of cable networks, 630 km of water communications and sewage etc.). Siberian Branch has also to maintain around 900 objects of social infrastructure (residential houses, utilities, health and educational institutions, recreational facilities etc. with total area over 2 million square metres.
The difficulties are aggravated by the fact that the major part of residential houses of the SB RAS was built in the sixties and seventies and therefore require capital repairs and renovations which is practically impossible due to the absence of funds. In this connection the Presidium of SB RAS had to divert some money from research.
One of the most serious problems is also the maintenance of public utilities. Built more than 30 years ago their facilities require renovation the cost of which would be billions of roubles.
This problem has been discussed heatedly for several years. For closed cities the problem has been somehow solved by special legislation. For Novosibirsk and other research centres of SB RAS it is an unsettled question.
© 1996, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk