UCSD Ranks in Top Five for U.S. Research Spending

UCSD ranked fifth among top U.S. universities in federal research and development expenditures for the 2012 fiscal year according to the National Science Foundation, spending a grand total of $1.074 billion on related expenses.

According to Vice Chancellor for Research Sandra A. Brown, UCSD has ranked in the top 10 U.S. universities in such expenditures for over a decade, as recorded by the National Science Foundation. The fiscal 2012 data show a 6.4 percent increase in spending in fiscal 2011.

“UC San Diego is also among the national leaders in the life sciences, which account for more than half of all R&D at universities and colleges,” Brown said in the UCSD News Center press release.

UCSD spent more than UC San Francisco and UCLA in the survey, which ranked in sixth and eighth place, respectively.

According to Lynn Reaser, an economist at Point Loma Nazarene University, while UCSD’s success in attracting federal funds serves as an asset to the San Diego community, it can also pose some difficulties.

“The reliance of UCSD and our region on research dollars also points to vulnerabilities,” Reaser said to the U-T San Diego on Aug. 18, 2013. “Most of the funding comes from government agencies, which could be affected by budget spending caps over the next decade. While sequestration still left a significant total of research funding this year, the total was down from the 2012 level. More reductions could well lie ahead.”

According to NSF statistics, total higher education federal R&D expenditures increased by 5 percent each year from fiscal 2009 to fiscal 2011. The decline in expenditures from fiscal 2011 to fiscal 2012 represents the first period of decline since fiscal 1974.

Life sciences expenditures decreased from $37.3 billion in fiscal 2011 to $37.2 billion in fiscal 2012.

The physical sciences, including chemistry and physics, experienced a 1.3-percent decrease from fiscal 2011 to fiscal 2012 as well.

According to the U-T San Diego, UCSD officials said funding might have reached $1 billion if federal agencies had not reduced the number and size of grants.

Brown said that the university has taken active steps against this.

“We have compensated for a portion of this reduction by writing more grants,” Brown told the U-T San Diego. “Our faculty members are working harder and seeking and obtaining more funding from nonfederal sources so that the net reductions are much smaller than at other universities.”