1993, No. 7
December 13, 1993
NSF 93-324

Academic R&D Spending Increased in FY 1992

Total expenditures for separately budgeted R&D performed at universities and colleges reached $18.9 billion in FY 1992, up 7 percent over 1991. When adjusted for inflation, academic R&D spending increased 4 percent over 1991 levels - significantly less than the 6-percent average annual growth rate recorded over the last decade (chart 1).

Chart 1Chart 1. Total and Federally financed R&D expenditures at universities and colleges TOP

Federally financed academic R&D spending increased 8 percent (5 percent in constant dollars) in 1992 to a total of $11.1 billion, paralleling an average annual rate of slightly over 8 percent per year since 1982 (nearly 5 percent after adjusting for inflation). The Federal Government provided 59 percent of the research dollars expended in 1992. That share, which had been declining steadily to a low of 58 percent in 1991, leveled in 1992. Although Federal dollars continue to account for the largest share of R&D expenditures, non-Federal sources contributed a larger share in 1992 - over 40 percent - than in 1982, when the share was about 35 percent.

The $7.8 billion received by academic institutions from non-Federal sources for R&D activities rose 2 percent in constant dollars in FY 1992. All the rise in non-Federal R&D support can be attributed to increases in industry, other sources (private foundations, etc.), and institutional funds, up 5 percent, 4 percent, and 2 percent, respectively, in constant dollars.

Between 1991 and 1992, R&D expenditures increased faster than the 3-percent inflation rate in most major science and engineering (S&E) fields, ranging from a high of 16 percent, in psychology, to a low of less than 1 percent, in computer sciences. Only the "all other sciences" (i.e., multidisciplinary areas) reflected a major decrease (7 percent). Federal increases surpassed total gains in all major S&E fields except in psychology, indicating a slowdown in the non-Federal sources after continued rapid growth (chart 2).

Chart 2Chart 2. R&D expenditures at universities and colleges by field and source of funds: FY 1991-92 TOP

R&D activities are highly concentrated within the academic sector. Separately budgeted academic R&D spending for the leading 20 research institutions in 1992 totaled $6.2 billion, representing 33 percent of total and 36 percent of Federally funded R&D spending, respectively (table 1). The 100 largest academic performers expended $15.2 billion, or 81 percent of the R&D total and 82 percent of Federally financed expenditures.

Table 1 (Small) Table 1. Twenty institutions reporting the largest R&D expenditures in the science and engineering TOP

The statistics in this Data Brief are being released in advance of the full set of statistics derived from NSF's FY 1992 Survey of Scientific and Engineering Expenditures at Universities and Colleges. The survey collects information on academic R&D spending in the sciences and engineering by source of funds, S&E field, and the portion of total and Federal expenditures used for the purchase of research equipment.

This Data Brief was prepared by M. Marge Machen, National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Studies, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 965, Arlington, VA 22230. To obtain a free copy, contact the SRS Publications Unit at the above address, call 703-306-1773, or e-mail to srsweb@nsf.gov.