sabato 26 luglio 2008

Petition to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Minister of Economy Giulio Tremonti and Minister of Education and Research Mariastella Gelmini

High education, research and innovation are pivotal elements to sustain
the growth and development of a country in a knowledge-based global
society. While Western and developing countries with which Italy is
supposed to compete are investing vast amounts of resources and
significant fractions of their NGP in these fields, the funds invested
in Italy, traditionally very low, have been reduced further and the
recent bill (D. L. 112/08) by the Minister of Economy Tremonti exacerbates
the situation. Specific articles in D. L. 112/08 impose indiscriminate
and heavy cuts that will have devastating effects on the public research
and higher education system, and hence on the scientific and
technological development of this country. Researchers in Italian
public universities and research institutions have had to work for years
under a chronic lack of funds.

The D. L 112/08 now goes beyond all limits. Some of the proposed measures, e.g.
the cut to the ordinary maintenance funds, as well as a substantial
block in staff recruitment and turnover, will rapidly paralyse the
system, preventing its growth and renewal, and cancelling all hopes for
an independent career for thousands of young researchers who will be
growingly forced to go working abroad. Article16 of the D.L. supposedly
offers the ‘liberty’ for Universities to convert into private Foundations; yet,
as presented, it is difficult to see how this remedy might be made
technically effective; on the contrary, it does mark a dramatic cultural
regression in this country by underscoring the Government’s unwillingness to invest
in the public research system. There is a serious risk that, under these
conditions, Italian universities will gradually turn into high
school-like structures, containers of poor and minimal teaching and
exam-making industries from which all scientific research will be expelled.

A first step towards cure and improvement should consider implementing a
serious, strict and transparent evaluation system, cutting unproductive
areas and hitting without hesitation areas of laziness and nepotism.
Instead, the D. L. 112/08, with its ‘linear’ cuts (i.e. , equal for
all), will penalize the best and most vital components in Universities
and research centers, who work, produce and study, albeit in tough
hardship. We are therefore faced with a real emergency and a mortal blow
to higher education and research in our country.

To avoid the danger that Italy irreparably drifts along an unstoppable
cultural, social and economic decline, we invite Minister Tremonti and
the Government to drastically revise the D. L. 112/08 articles
concerning the public university ad research system, and to introduce
reliable and internationally recognized evaluation procedures so as to
promote a true renewal and progress in the Italian system of university
and research.


Nessun commento: