Swingeing Cuts in Italy

Save Italian astronomy!

Save Astronomy
Astronomical research is under threat once more. This time it is from the Italian government who are enacting a law forcing deep and widespread cuts in funding at the country's universities and research institutes.

The proposed bill would effectively sack 2000 'temporary' research staff and divert those funds towards shoring up the nations banks struggling in the economic crisis. The bill states (Art. 66.13) that funding to universities will be reduced by .63 million in 2009, .190 million in 2010, .316 million in 2011, .417 million in 2012 and .455 million in 2013.

Not only is funding being reduced but ridiculous limits on employment are being enacted too. Only one in five vacant academic positions will be allowed to be filled and any short-term contract researcher that has worked for more than three years will have their contracts terminated. About half of the 2000 researchers affected had already been selected for permanent positions but those jobs are now likely to disappear.

These new employment rules have huge implications for the lives of the researchers and for long-term astronomical research projects. I work on a large, long-term European project and a number of my colleagues are young Italians in exactly the type of jobs that will go. This will have an awful effect on their lives and careers, and it will have a negative impact on the rest of the project as brilliant people are lost. This is a human and research disaster.

Understandably, the researchers and students are extremely angry with this anti-education policy of Silvio Berlusconi's government. Huge protests have already taken place and many more are planned. In Bologna the main piazza will be covered in images of the faces of researchers as a physical representation of the way they are downtrodden by their government. In Trieste young researchers are protesting by taking it in turns to occupy the office of the director of the observatory. The homepages of many Italian astronomical institutions are also protesting these government attacks.

La ricerca calpestata
Researchers occupying offices in Trieste hold up the daily newspaper like hostages CREDIT: Precarea-Trieste

Frankly, I'm horrified by the proposed cuts in Italy and am very worried for many of my Italian friends. If you are Italian you can join the protests and say no to 133.

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Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Wednesday 05th Nov 2008 (14:23 GMT) | Permalink
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