I am Manuel Pereira dos Santos, Full professor of Physics at the University of Évora, Portugal, and also vice-president of a teacher’s and professor’s union, representing this sector of higher education and research at the Education International.
In Portugal we have a very serious situation on research and science, because this government decided to cut the funding both to the researchers and the research centres:
• The number of the researcher’s contracts or grants has been reduced this year to about one third of the previous ones (and these are all precarious researchers);
• The number of research centres that will receive funding next year will be reduced to one half of the total.
Scientific research in Portugal was greatly developed during the last 20 years, bringing our level from the bottom of European research to the average, or even above, in some aspects. This improvement produced a new highly qualified generation of researchers, and had also the participation of many foreign researchers that came to work in Portuguese laboratories. That’s all this reality that is being destroyed during the last 3 years by this government.
The last attack on science and research was carried in the following way: even if, for the last 17 years, all the research centres have been regularly evaluated by international teams (including a visit to the centres and a discussion with the researchers), this time FCT (our science funding agency) decided to contract ESF (European Science Foundation) for this job, and the outcome was a disaster:
• 50% of the centres have not been approved for funding, or will receive small amounts, covering only administrative costs;
• This 50% percentage of cuts is the same for all subjects, and so this has nothing to do with quality assessments, but with previous orders;
• Many centres, previously assessed with “excellent” or “very good” in 2010, having raised their scientific productivity since, are now evaluated “good” or less, and will have no funds.
There are also some “strange aspects to notice:
• ESF, that will change the name to EUROPE SCIENCE next September, will have Miguel Seabra (our President of FCT, who decided the contract for this job) as its next President since then… and apparently he sees “no conflict of interests” on this!
• ESF has no previous experience on the evaluation of a national scientific system;
• The referee’s panel is quite short, many evaluated subjects had no specialists in this panel, and the curricula of many referees is not relevant on their subject… and then the number of basic mistakes is very big;
• None of the centres that will have no funds next year has been visited, they have been refused based only on written documents;
• The outcome of the evaluation is a huge concentration of the viable research centres within the bigger institutions, and a shortage of research on fundamental science;
• Nothing in all this process is transparent or clear.
WE NEED YOUR HELP, AS COLLEAGUES FROM THE INTERNATIONAL SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY:
We must inform everyone of this “attempt of murder of science” in Portugal, and the misapplication of national and European funds.
SEND US PROTEST AND SOLIDARITY MESSAGES TO THE FOLLOWING E-MAIL ADDRESS: