According to a recent UC Davis report, our campus received $679 million to fund scientific research during the 2009-2010 fiscal year. This was a record-breaking amount and a huge increase from just $298 million in 2000-2001. At the same time that research funding grew, student fees rose dramatically. While it’s tempting to connect these two increases, and assume students are footing the scientists’ bills, there is no correlation between the two.
Students should not worry about financing scientific research. Every time a UC Davis scientist announces a breakthrough, the reputation of the university improves.
While student fees do not go toward scientific research, UC Davis students do benefit from outside support of science. Scientific progress gives our degrees more prestige.
In fact, most of the 2009-2010 science funding came from the federal government. The government-run National Science Foundation gave $12 million to the UC Davis MIND Institute for research into autism. The U.S. Agency for International Development granted $75 million over five years to establish a network to detect and prevent diseases spread from wildlife to humans. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act gave Davis’ California National Primate Research Center $14.2 million to construct a center for research on respiratory diseases.
UC Davis also received funding from charities and businesses. Most of this money doesn’t go toward buying fancy new technology; it pays for the salaries of researchers and graduate students, lab supplies and lab utilities.
From recent surveys it can be seen that funding for science is an investment that pays off. In U.S. News & World Report’s 2011 edition of “America’s Best Colleges,” UC Davis ranked ninth among public research universities nationwide. UC Davis also regularly earns the most citations in scientific peer-reviewed journals in fields such as agricultural sciences, food sciences and plant and animal sciences.
While student fees are increasing, rest assured that scientific funding isn’t coming out of our wallets.