The National Science Foundation (NSF) released the 2012 edition of its biennial publication, “Science and Engineering Indicators.” Among many other findings, the report shows that the U.S. remains the global leader in supporting research and development (R&D), but “only by a slim margin that could soon be overtaken by rapidly increasing Asian investments in knowledge-intensive economies.” NSF Director Subra Suresh said in a prepared statement that “we must take seriously new strategies for education, workforce development and innovation in order for the United States to retain its international leadership position."
The report, a rich source of data on research funding, higher education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education in particular), and the STEM workforce, also finds that between 2002 and 2010, state financing of the top 101 public research universities dropped by 10 percent in constant (inflation-adjusted) dollars. Funding varied widely by state and by institution, but 72 of the top 101 universities experienced an overall constant-dollar reduction in state appropriations. (See Chapter 2, page 2-12.) For example, University of California campuses saw reductions of between 17 percent and 35 percent, while four State University of New York campuses received increases ranging from 71 percent to 171 percent.
The report notes that while the value of overall state funding declined nationally, enrollment was growing consistently, so that state funding per enrolled student fell by 20 percent in constant dollars between 2002 and 2010, dropping from $10,195 to $8,157. Preliminary data by state show state funding continuing to decline between 2009 and 2011, with 35 of 50 states reporting reductions in state appropriations and other state support, “ranging from less than one percent to more than 28 percent.”http://www.nsf.gov/nsb/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=122859&org=NSB&from=news