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Chinese government removes excessive regulations for scientific researchers

Zhang Yue
Updated: Jun 1,2016 9:47 PM

The Chinese government will further improve its regulation on the management of science and research funding, and remove administrative barriers for universities and research institutions to better boost enthusiasm from teachers and researchers.

Decisions were made about the improvement during the State Council’s executive meeting on June 1, led by Premier Li Keqiang.

“The best universities made their achievements with the enduring endeavors and enthusiasm of their research fellows and teachers, not by regulating rigidly,” the Premier said. “Thus, it is important to harness the potential of researchers and teachers.”

On May 30, President Xi Jinping addressed a conference of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Engineering and the national congress of the China Association for Science and Technology, stressing the importance of scientific research.

“Currently, the state needs the strategic support of science and technology more urgently than at any other time in the past,” he said.

Also speaking at the conference, Premier Li said, “Scientific innovation needs to be boosted through institutional reform.”

The Premier reiterated the idea that outdated administrative barriers should be removed for science research in order to boost potential and achieve innovation, as well as improve productivity. In his recent instruction to the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) innovation campaign, released on May 31, he called for efforts to boost passion and vision in science and technology and to turn research progress into social and economic development.

“We need to acknowledge scientific researchers’ contribution and learn from developed countries that perform well in this regard. Raising financial rewards for researchers is a sign of acknowledgment,” the Premier said while speaking at the conference on May 30, which drew scientists and researchers.

The upcoming measures mean that research funds will be granted under fewer administrative procedures and a more flexible way of using research funds will be encouraged. The amended regulation calls for a professional finance system so that researchers can focus on research and not be distracted by procedures.

Universities and research institutions will also be given more freedom in purchasing equipment for research purposes.

Proportional limits on service fees for researchers will be completely removed.

Financial rewards for researchers were raised from the previous 5 percent to no more than 20 percent of funds after deducted fees spent on equipment. Also, all participants in research projects, including graduate students and visiting scholars, will be paid.

Complicated requirements for travel reimbursement, such as invoices, have long been a headache for researchers who travel for conferences. A number of rigid rules exist in this regard, creating problems for researchers in carrying out field work and inviting research fellows for academic conferences. Under the new regulation, a more convenient regulation on reimbursement for business trips and academic conferences will be introduced. Universities will be allowed to draw up their own regulation on reimbursement for travel expenses, ensuring that researchers won’t be burdened by invoice procedures while carrying out field research and attending conferences.

During meeting on June 1, the Premier urged the departments and ministries concerned to revise regulations based on the discussions at the meeting on May 30, and to make sure that policies from the State Council are fully implemented. He stressed that this is to make sure that the amended regulation and policy will truly bring benefits and convenience to researchers.

The Premier has frequently pointed out such problems while visiting research institutions and universities. During his visit to Tsinghua University in April, he asked how research funds were used while talking with Shi Yigong, dean of the School of Life Science, who spent years doing research in the US. The Premier pointed out that a chasm still exists between China and leading nations of higher education, adding that China’s rules are too rigid for granting research funds, making China less attractive to first-class talent.

Heads of several universities in Beijing as well as heads of several government departments concerned also attended the meeting, who were delighted at the new regulation, adding that it will help solve long-existing problems that have burdened universities, and will help generate greater enthusiasm for researchers and increase efficiency.

The State Council and ministries in charge will continue to monitor the implementation of the new policy.

China has 81 million science and technology workers. They are known as the “backbone” of the country’s innovation-driven development strategy.