Bulgarian Education Minister Assuages Researchers' Fears

Education | November 17, 2010, Wednesday // 12:51|  views

Bulgarian Education Minister, Sergey Ignatov, announced pending amendments of the Academy of Sciences Bill. Photo by BGNES

The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) is not going to be closed, Education Minister, Sergey Ignatov, reassured Wednesday.

Ignatov spoke in the aftermath of Monday announcements coming from Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, and the Speaker of the Parliament Tsetska Tsacheva of intentions to demolish BAS, the oldest and most prestigious research institution in the country.

Speaking in an interview for nationally-aired bTV channel, Borisov stated that the institutes of the Academy will be transfered under the control of the State or universities, depending on their nature.

Tsacheva made precisely the same announcement just minutes later, speaking at Sofia University.

Researchers and scientists at BAS, who have already been outraged by the drastic budget cuts for the Academy for 2011, immediately began staging protest rallies against what they interpreted as plans to shut BSA down. Its Chief Scientific Secretary, Stefan Hadzhitodorov, voiced surprise no one has been notified about such plans.

On Wednesday, the Education Minister declared the Academy would not be dismantled, but its institutes will begin receiving their financing directly from the Ministry instead of via the BAS management as intermediary, thus obtaining more rights and freedom to use the subsidy.

A similar proposal was launched in May, stirring protests at the time as well. Researchers met then with Borisov, who promised to allow them to carry out their own reform.

Ignatov now says things have changed since the spring and amendments are pending in the BAS Bill. Scientists insist the Minister told them as recently as two weeks ago there wouldn't be any changes in the Bill.

Ignatov further explained Wednesday Institutes such as the one for Meteorology and Hydrology and for Seismology would receive additional funding and announced a plan to establish closer ties between BAS institutes and universities and colleges.

The Minister reiterated it was BAS' fault for being strapped for cash now over years-long mismanagement of funds.

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Tags: Sergei Ignatov, Simeon Djankov, Boyko Borisov, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, BAS, Tsetska Tsacheva, Bulgarian Parliament


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