Redundancy plan to boost wages

May 19, 2006

Thousands of Russian researchers face the sack under an Academy of Sciences modernisation plan designed to increase salaries threefold.

Architects of the plan - approved by President Vladimir Putin, academy member institutes and trade unions - hope it will help to stem Russia's brain drain by retaining young high-fliers with salaries that, by 2008, will average Pounds 400-£700 a month. In comparison, skilled engineering workers employed by the Moscow Metro earn £250 a month.

Up to 10,000 scientific workers and an equal number of non-academic staff, about 20 per cent of the academy's 112,000 employees, will be made redundant.

Salaries for those who keep their jobs will begin rising in increments as soon the plan is implemented this summer.

Staff cuts will be applied equally across the academy's three broad geographical divisions - the Urals, Siberia and the Far East - but detailed redundancy plans will be left to each of 410 affiliated institutes.

The cuts and efficiency savings from reduced expenditure on equipment, premises and running costs will total about a quarter of the academy's annual budget, vice-president of the academy Valery Kozlov, architect of the modernisation plan, told The Times Higher .

"The key thing is that we are reducing budget-funded positions - that is, posts that are directly funded by the Government. The academy plans to transfer a considerable number of employees to non-budgetary posts supported by contract work or grants," Professor Kozlov said.

With the lavish state funding of Communist times little more than a memory, the academy relies on federal funding for 60 per cent of its budget.

"Many of the talented scientists who graduate from our universities today go to the West to fulfil their scientific potential. We hope that for most young researchers this plan will make work in academy institutes more attractive," Professor Kozlov added.

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