30.05.2011
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“Disciplines with less short term financial potential should not be neglected”

BRUSSELS – The European Students’ Union (ESU) has published its response to the consultation of the European Commission’s Green Paper dubbed From Challenges to Opportunities: Towards a Common Strategic Framework for EU Research and Innovation funding, on 27 May. The Green Paper proposes major changes to EU research and innovation funding to make participation easier, increase scientific and economic impact and provide better value for money.

In its input to the consultation, ESU says that the way forward for the European Union (EU) to thrive economically and socially is ‘through an innovation-driven and knowledge- and competence-based economy and equality driven society’.  ESU therefore emphasizes that the knowledge triangle between education, research and innovation is the enabler for reaching the goals which are set for the Europe 2020: a ‘smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’. Bert Vandenkendelaere, ESU Chairperson said: “Without decent and substantial investments in education and research, the EU will never be able to reach the targets it has set for itself in the Europe 2020 Strategy.”

“Invest more in R&D”

ESU holds the opinion that doctoral education constitutes the main link between the European Higher Education Area and the European Research Area (ERA). The statement reads: “If Europe wants to reach the objectives of Europe 2020, investing more money into Research and Development (R&D) should be considered as a means to strengthen human resources. ESU welcomes the fact that the European Union is aiming to further invest money in R&D so as to reach 3% of the GDP investment by 2020.”

Special attention should be given to the distribution of funding between study disciplines, according to ESU’s input. It says: “Disciplines that have less immediate commercial appeal or short term financial potential such as humanities or social sciences, should not be neglected.” ESU recommends that funding should support broader innovation (including non-technological, humanities and social innovation) that bring an enormous social and cultural significance.

Low female participation
Lastly, ESU expresses its concern with the fact that participation by female researchers keeps being low. It states: “Discrimination towards women is still prevalent in contemporary society including in the current labour market provisions”. ESU consequently highly recommends to the ERA to address this issue and make sure that national systems are not hindering females from participating in research programmes and ensure equal opportunities for all.

Full consultation paper can be read here.

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