R&D Expenditures Survey

Science Resources Studies Division
Vol. 1996, No. 1, February 2, 1996

Academic R&E Expenditures Outpace Inflation in FY 1994

by M. Marge Machen

Academic expenditures for total separately budgeted research and development (R&E) activities in the sciences and engineering (S&E) reached $21 billion dollars in FY 1994-an increase of nearly 6 percent from 1993 levels. When adjusted for inflation, academic R&E spending grew almost 4 percent, matching the average annual rate of real growth during the last 5 years.

Federally financed spending for separately budgeted R&E expenditures increased by almost 6 percent (4 percent in constant dollars) in 1994 to a total of $12.7 billion. The Federal Government provided 60 percent of the research dollars expended at universities and colleges in FY 1994, the same proportion reached in 1993, indicating a leveling after a period of slow decline since 1983, when the Federal share was 63 percent of total.

R&E spending from non-Federal sources reached $8.4 billion in FY 1994, an increase of more than 5 percent (3 percent in constant dollars). Non-Federal sources, while accounting for only two-fifths of all academic R&E spending, have for years experienced the fastest rates of growth of all spending sources. Gains in institutional funds and in the catchall "all other sources" category (including private foundations and voluntary sources) each rose 7 percent, whereas funding from industry rose 5 percent. Of all the non-Federal sources, only State and local governments reported little growth in university R&E support (less than 0.5 percent) in FY 1994 (table 1).

Table 1Table 1. R&E expenditures at universities and colleges, by source of funds TOP

Academic institutions have historically devoted approximately two-thirds of their R&E efforts to the performance of basic research, a trend that was uninterrupted in 1994. Academic basic research funds rose 6 percent in 1994 (4 percent in constant dollars), to $14.1 billion. The Federal share-$8.9 billion-accounted for 63 percent of the basic research total. Combined applied research and development activities totaled $7.0 billion, up 5 percent between 1993 and 1994.

R&E expenditures increased faster than the 3-percent rate of inflation in five of the eight major science and engineering fields for which data are available. Rates of growth range from a high of 9 percent in computer sciences to a low of 2 percent in physical sciences (chart 1). Federal funding in all fields but mathematical sciences kept pace with inflation in 1994. Academic spending in engineering rose 5 percent, to $3.3 billion in 1994, with civil engineering increasing the most, by nearly 7 percent.

Chart 1Chart 1. R&E expenditures at universities and colleges, by field TOP

R&E spending for the leading 20 university performers in FY 1994 totaled $6.7 billion, and constituted a 32-percent and 36-percent share of total and federally funded spending, respectively (table 2). The largest 100 academic R&E performers expended $16.9 billion, and accounted for 80 percent of the R&E total and 83 percent of federally financed expenditures. These 1994 shares are similar to those reported during the past decade.

Table 2Table 1. Twenty institutions reporting the highest academic R&E expenditures in the sciences and engineering: FY 1993-94 TOP

Contact M. Marge Machen, National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Studies, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965, Arlington, VA 22230. For a free copy, write to the above address, call 703-306-1773, or send e-mail to srsweb@nsf.gov.