Higher Ed Braces for Possible Funding Cuts

Feb 28, 2013

Universities and colleges in the state say they’re bracing for cuts to federal research grants should sequestration kick in. The University of Rhode Island says depending on cuts to defense research, it could lose either $6.4 million or $12.6 million. And Brown University estimates cuts of about $8 million.

RI College campus
Credit courtesy RIC.edu

Lisa Smolski is director of grants and research at Rhode Island College. She says the threat of sequestration has caused a lot of uncertainty. For example, RIC just got an email from the National Institutes of Health that a grant proposal is now in limbo. “And basically it said this is in the fundable range but because we don’t know what is going on with the budget at this point we can’t tell you anything.”

URI says cuts in federal research grants would affect its role as a catalyst for economic development in the state.  

Clyde Briant is Vice President for Research at Brown. He says the $8 million figure is the best guess he can make given the complexities of research funding. “We don’t know if the agencies will choose to have these cuts through funds they would have given and are simply not going to award, in which case it might be some time before we felt the full impact of that. Or whether they will choose to not give continuations to existing awards, which would be a more immediate impact. We just simply don’t know how each of them is going to handle this.”

Brown is also worried about the effect cuts would have on the state’s economy, saying federal research grants help fuel a knowledge-based economy.   

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you.  news@ripr.org