Real-Dollar Decline for Academic R

For first time in nearly 25 years, federal support for university research in 2006 fell, when adjusted for inflation.
September 28, 2007

Federal spending on university research and development declined in real dollars in 2006 for the first time in nearly 25 years, the National Science Foundation said in a report Thursday.

An estimate released by the foundation in April had anticipated a 6.0 rise in federal support for academic R&D, well above the rate of inflation. But the report released Thursday, which represents much firmer and near final numbers, finds instead that funds increased by 2.9 percent, to $30.03 billion, which represented a 0.1 percent decline in inflation-adjusted dollars. The last such decrease occurred in 1982,
the report said.

NSF officials attributed the leveling off of federal support to the end of many years of massive increases in financing from the National Institutes of Health.

Over all, though, colleges and universities reported a 4.3 percent increase in research and development expenditures in science and engineering in 2006, to $47.8 billion. That increase, which represented a rise of 1.2 percent after inflation, was driven particularly by hefty growth in the institutions' own spending, which climbed to $9.062 billion from $8.258 billion in 2005, an uptick of about 10 percent.

The report also provided a look at top institutions' individual spending, as seen in the table below. A few changes occurred in the top 20, with the University of Arizona moving into the list and Columbia University, which had been found there for the first time in 2005, leaving it again. The University of Florida may have experienced the most growth in recent years, rising 10 spots since 2004, the NSF said.

Top 20 Institutions in Research and Development Expenditures, 2005 and 2006

  Institution 2005 (millions) 2006 (millions)
1 Johns Hopkins U. 1,444 1,500
2 U. of Wisconsin at Madison 798 832
3 U. of California at Los Angeles 786 811
4 U. of Michigan campuses 809 800
5 U. of California at San Francisco 754 796
6 U. of Washington 708 778
7 U. of California at San Diego 721 755
8 Stanford U. 715 679
9 U. of Pennsylvania 655 676
10 Duke U. 631 657
11 Ohio State U. 609 652
12 Cornell U. 607 649
13 Pennsylvania State U. 626 644
14 Mass. Institute of Technology 581 601
15 U. of Minnesota 549 595
16 U. of California at Davis 547 573
17 U. of Florida 531 565
18 Washington U. in St. Louis 532 548
19 U. of California at Berkeley 555 546
20 U. of Arizona 530 536


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