For higher education and research, 904 million budget cuts

Higher education and research are among the most affected by the cancellations of payment credits decided by a decree published Thursday February 22. For this “mission”, 904 million euros in savings are requested, or almost 3% reduction on a total budget of 31.8 billion. This is a little more than 8% of the total effort requested, for expenditure in a sector which represents around 5.5% of the general budget.

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In detail, programs of this mission will have to tighten their belts considerably. Program 172, which funds research organizations such as the CNRS, INRAE, Inserm and Inria, must cancel almost 5% of its budget. The 193, for space research, will be cut by 10%. “It’s a shock and a shock. We have never seen this in more than fifteen years, criticizes Boris Gralak, general secretary of the Scientific Research Union. This is obviously unacceptable and sends a catastrophic signal for research. »

The Ministry of Higher Education and Research, affected by 588 million euros of cancellation out of the 904 million, indicates that these savings “mainly concern precautionary reserves, postponements of multi-year real estate projects, investments or research equipment, and an adjustment to calls for projects from the National Research Agency”. He adds that “laboratory salaries and resources are preserved”as “all commitments on student life, student accommodation and catering”.

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Cancellation of credits for “student life”

However, these reductions put an end to the budgetary progression recorded by the research programming law (LPR) of December 2020, considered to be “sanctuary” by many. Program 172, the heart of research funding, is decreasing even compared to this law: an increase of 324 million euros voted in December 2023 for the 2024 budget, for a decrease of 383 million by decree two months later. “We don’t see how the organizations will be able to do it. Taking into account inflation, that’s two years of LPR credits that disappear”asks Boris Gralak.

“It is still too early to assess the consequences for the CNRS which is awaiting decisions from the ministry, notes Antoine Petit, CEO of the organization. It is understandable that each ministry is called upon to contribute, but to ignore research would be to ignore the future! » On December 7, the Head of State, Emmanuel Macron, in an enthusiastic speech for research, said he was committed “to continue to provide more resources”.

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