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Higher Education R&D Expenditures Remain Flat in FY 2012

NSF 14-303 | November 2013 | PDF format. PDF  
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by Ronda Britt[1]

University spending on research and development in all fields totaled $65.8 billion in FY 2012, according to data from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey. When adjusted for inflation, higher education R&D declined by 1.1% in FY 2012 (figure 1).



FIGURE 1.  Higher education R&D expenditures, by source of funds: FYs 2003–12.

  Figure 1 Source Data: Excel file

This represents the first constant-dollar decline since FY 1974 and ends a period of modest growth during FYs 2009–11, when R&D expenditures increased an average of 5% each year.

The expenditures funded by the one-time American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) decreased from $4.2 billion in FY 2011 to $2.4 billion in FY 2012.[2] ARRA funding represented 6.1% of the federally funded R&D expenditures for FY 2012. Including ARRA funding, the total federal funding for higher education R&D declined from $40.8 billion in FY 2011 to $40.1 billion in FY 2012, falling from 62.5% to 61.0% of total R&D expenditures. In constant dollars, federally funded R&D expenditures declined 3.3% in FY 2012.

Unless otherwise indicated, references to dollar amounts or percentages for the remainder of this InfoBrief are in current dollars.

R&D Expenditures by Source

Most nongovernmental funding sources showed increases between FY 2011 and FY 2012. Institution-funded R&D showed the most significant growth and rose by over $1 billion to $13.7 billion in FY 2012.[3] Institution funds include three components: institutionally financed research ($7.7 billion), cost sharing on sponsored projects ($1.3 billion), and unrecovered indirect costs on sponsored projects ($4.6 billion). Expenditures funded by nonprofit organizations increased by $180 million to $4.0 billion, and business-funded R&D increased by $101 million to $3.3 billion in FY 2012. By contrast, expenditures funded by state and local governments showed a modest decline for the second year in a row (table 1). R&D expenditures funded by state and local governments decreased from $3.9 billion in FY 2010 to $3.7 billion in FY 2012.

TABLE 1. Higher education R&D expenditures, by source of funds: FYs 2010–12
(Millions of current dollars)
Fiscal
year
All R&D
expenditures
Federal
government
State and
local
government
Institution
funds
Business Nonprofit
organizations
All other
sources
2010 61,257 37,477 3,853 11,941 3,198 3,740 1,048
2011 65,274 40,771 3,831 12,601 3,181 3,854 1,036
2012 65,775 40,130 3,704 13,674 3,282 4,033 951

SOURCE: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Higher Education Research and Development Survey.

Table 1 Source Data: Excel file

Among the federal agencies, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) accounted for all of the drop in the federally funded total, showing declines of 4.7% and 6.5%, respectively, from 2011 to 2012 (table 2). HHS-funded expenditures declined by almost $1.1 billion to $21.9 billion in FY 2012; that total comprises 54.5% of the total R&D expenditures funded by the federal government.

TABLE 2. Federally financed higher education R&D expenditures, by federal agency: FYs 2010–12
(Millions of current dollars)
Agency FY 2010 FY 2011 FY 2012 % change
2011-12
All federal R&D 37,477 40,771 40,130 -1.6
Department of Health and Human Services 21,096 22,984 21,895 -4.7
National Science Foundation 4,733 5,138 5,271 2.6
Department of Defense 4,493 4,826 4,924 2.0
Department of Energy 1,555 1,867 1,953 4.6
National Aeronautics and Space
Administration
1,474 1,423 1,331 -6.5
Department of Agriculture 954 1,006 1,094 8.7
Other a 3,172 3,527 3,664 3.9

a Includes all other agencies reported.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Higher Education Research and Development Survey.

Table 2 Source Data: Excel file

R&D Expenditures by Field

The largest broad field, life sciences, declined slightly from $37.3 billion in FY 2011 to $37.2 billion in FY 2012 (table 3). The majority of the funding was spent within the subfields of medical sciences ($20.4 billion) and biological sciences ($11.6 billion), both of which experienced small declines in FY 2012. Engineering was the next largest broad field and increased 2.6% to $10.3 billion in reported R&D expenditures in FY 2012. Bioengineering/biomedical engineering experienced the largest percentage growth of the engineering subfields, rising 7.4% to $879 million. R&D within non-science and engineering (non-S&E) fields also grew, showing a 7.0% increase to $3.5 billion in FY 2012. Within the non-S&E fields, education continues to be the largest subfield, and R&D expenditures within this discipline rose 10.2% to $1.2 billion in FY 2012.[4]

TABLE 3. Higher education R&D expenditures, by R&D field: FYs 2011–12
(Millions of current dollars)
Field FY 2011 FY 2012 % change
2011-12
All R&D fields 65,274 65,775 0.8
Science 51,953 51,964 0.0
Computer sciences 1,740 1,821 4.7
Environmental sciences 3,159 3,173 0.4
Atmospheric sciences 481 476 -1.0
Earth sciences 1,140 1,167 2.4
Oceanography 1,050 1,022 -2.7
Environmental sciences, nec 489 508 3.9
Life sciences 37,319 37,215 -0.3
Agricultural sciences 3,112 3,296 5.9
Biological sciences 11,842 11,596 -2.1
Medical sciences 20,401 20,358 -0.2
Life sciences, nec 1,964 1,965 0.1
Mathematical sciences 640 675 5.4
Physical sciences 4,781 4,721 -1.3
Astronomy 583 706 21.1
Chemistry 1,784 1,750 -1.9
Physics 2,121 1,996 -5.9
Physical sciences, nec 293 269 -8.3
Psychology 1,157 1,188 2.7
Social sciences 2,063 2,056 -0.4
Economics 387 383 -1.0
Political sciences 372 392 5.3
Sociology 433 460 6.2
Social sciences, nec 871 821 -5.8
Sciences, nec 1,093 1,115 2.1
Engineering 10,044 10,302 2.6
Aeronautical/astronautical engineering 668 662 -0.8
Bioengineering/biomedical engineering 818 879 7.4
Chemical engineering 918 909 -1.0
Civil engineering 1,210 1,234 2.0
Electrical engineering 2,210 2,315 4.8
Mechanical engineering 1,557 1,551 -0.4
Metallurgical/materials engineering 738 757 2.6
Engineering, nec 1,924 1,996 3.7
Non-science and engineering 3,278 3,508 7.0
Business and management 400 442 10.5
Communications, journalism, and
library science
153 159 4.2
Education 1,115 1,229 10.2
Humanities 313 341 9.0
Law 125 132 4.9
Social work 194 199 2.6
Visual and performing arts 77 85 9.8
Non-science and engineering, nec 901 922 2.4

nec = not elsewhere classified.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Higher Education Research and Development Survey.

Table 3 Source Data: Excel file

R&D Spending for Top 30 Performers

Of the 907 institutions surveyed, the top 30 in terms of R&D expenditures in all fields accounted for 40% of total academic R&D spending (table 4). There was only one change to the top 30 between FY 2011 and FY 2012. The University of Southern California moved back into the top 30, displacing the University of Texas at Austin, now at number 31. Twelve of the top 30 reported expenditure declines in FY 2012, ranging from -0.1% (Yale University) to -7.9% (Ohio State University). Harvard University showed a significant increase of 23% in FY 2012 as a result of increased expenditures from federal, business, and nonprofit sources and also a first-time reporting of $69 million in institution-funded R&D. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology also showed a significant increase relative to its peers, rising 13.9% to $824 million in FY 2012. This increase was also due in large part to a new reporting of institution funds previously omitted. There are now eight institutions reporting over $1 billion each in R&D spending, compared with four such institutions in FY 2010.

TABLE 4.Thirty institutions reporting the largest FY 2012 R&D expenditures in all fields: FYs 2010–12
(Millions of current dollars)
Rank Institution FY 2010 FY 2011 FY 2012 % change
2011–12
All institutions 61,257 65,274 65,775 0.8
Leading 30 institutions 24,458 26,160 26,487 1.3
1 Johns Hopkins U. a 2,004 2,145 2,106 -1.8
2 U. MI Ann Arbor 1,184 1,279 1,323 3.4
3 U. WI Madison 1,029 1,112 1,170 5.2
4 U. WA Seattle 1,023 1,149 1,109 -3.4
5 U. CA San Diego 943 1,009 1,074 6.4
6 U. CA San Francisco 936 995 1,033 3.8
7 Duke U. 983 1,022 1,010 -1.2
8 U. CA Los Angeles 937 982 1,003 2.1
9 Stanford U. 840 908 903 -0.5
10 Columbia U. in the City of New York 807 879 889 1.2
11 U. NC Chapel Hill 755 869 885 1.8
12 U. Pittsburgh Pittsburgh 822 899 867 -3.6
13 U. PA 836 886 847 -4.4
14 U. MN Twin Cities 786 847 826 -2.5
15 MA Institute of Technology 677 724 824 13.9
16 Cornell U. 750 782 802 2.7
17 Harvard U. 583 650 799 23.0
18 PA State U. University Park and
Hershey Medical Ctr
770 795 798 0.4
19 OH State U. 755 832 767 -7.9
20 U. CA Berkeley 694 708 730 3.2
21 U. CA Davis 680 708 713 0.8
22 Washington U. St 696 725 706 -2.6
23 U. FL 682 740 697 -5.8
24 TX A&M U. College Station 690 706 693 -1.7
25 GA Institute of Technology 616 655 689 5.1
26 U. TX M 600 663 686 3.4
27 Yale U. 624 657 657 -0.1
28 Northwestern U. 575 619 631 2.0
29 U. AZ 587 611 625 2.4
30 U. Southern CA 593 603 624 3.4

a Johns Hopkins University includes Applied Physics Laboratory, with $1,121 million in total R&D expenditures in FY 2012.

NOTES: Because of rounding, detail may not add to total. Institutions ranked are geographically separate campuses headed by a campus-level president, chancellor, or equivalent.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Higher Education Research and Development Survey.

Table 4 Source Data: Excel file

R&D Personnel

In FY 2012, institutions reported a total headcount of 916,822 personnel paid from the $28.3 billion in R&D salaries and wages reported on the survey. Of this total, 153,653 (16.8%) were designated as principal investigators (including co-investigators). The remainder (763,169) included other personnel, such as research fellows, student research assistants, and support staff.

Data Sources, Limitations, and Availability

The fiscal year referred to throughout this report is the academic fiscal year; for most institutions, FY 2012 represents the period 1 July 2011 through 30 June 2012. The higher education R&D expenditures data were collected from 907 universities and colleges that grant bachelor's or higher degrees and expended at least $150,000 in R&D in the survey period. In order to reduce respondent burden, the HERD Survey was revised in FY 2012 to request abbreviated data from institutions reporting less than $1 million in R&D expenditures during the previous fiscal year. The totals shown in this InfoBrief do not include expenditures reported by 252 institutions that completed a short form version of the survey in FY 2012. These institutions accounted for only an additional $145 million to the U.S. total of higher education R&D expenditures in FY 2012; however, combined results will be shown within a limited set of detailed tables.

The amounts reported include all funds expended for activities specifically organized to produce research outcomes and sponsored by an outside organization or separately budgeted using institution funds. R&D expenditures at university-administered federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) are collected in a separate survey, the FFRDC R&D Survey, and these data are available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/ffrdc/.

The full set of detailed tables from this survey will be available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/srvyherd/. Individual detailed tables from the 2012 survey may be available in advance of release. For further information, please contact the author.

Notes

[1] Ronda Britt, Research and Development Statistics Program, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965, Arlington, VA 22230 (rbritt@nsf.gov; 703-292-7765).

[2] Although the funding was awarded to institutions in federal FY 2009, much of the funding was for multiyear projects. ARRA funds accounted for $2.6 billion of the FY 2010 academic R&D total of $61.2 billion. ARRA expenditures are expected to appear in HERD Survey totals through academic FY 2014.

[3] To improve the consistency of reporting across institutions, the FY 2012 survey asked institutions to specify which types of institution-funded R&D other than cost sharing and unrecovered indirect costs were reported in both FY 2011 and FY 2012. The four types of funding choices included (1) competitively awarded internal grants, (2) startup packages or bridge funding, (3) other departmental funds designated for research, or (4) tuition assistance for research personnel. The results showed that 13% of institutions began reporting one or more of the funding types listed for the first time in FY 2012. These institutions accounted for 16% of the total R&D expenditures reported in FY 2012. Although it is not possible to determine the effect of this reporting change on the significant increase in FY 2012 institution-funded R&D, it is likely that some of the increase may be due to improved reporting rather than an increase in available funds.

[4] For more details on the specific fields within each of these broad field categories, see pages 10–15 of the FY 2012 Higher Education R&D Survey questionnaire, http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/srvyherd/surveys/srvyherd_2012.pdf.


National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
Higher Education R&D Expenditures Remain Flat in FY 2012
Arlington, VA (NSF 14-303) [November 2013]


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