A lack of proposals is a greater impediment to scientific research in Jordan than a lack of funds, an official from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research said on Monday.
Nasri Rabadi, head of the ministry’s Scientific Research Fund, said the fund routinely fails to spend more than a small portion of its allocations because it does not receive enough requests for funding.
“We can support research with an annual budget of JD12 million. However, we do not have many proposals to support… Last year we only received applications requesting a total of JD1.5 million,” he told The Jordan Times yesterday.
“The culture of scientific research is not well rooted in our community and this is one of the reasons that we provide funding for joint research conducted by Jordanians in cooperation with European or other foreign institutions,” he noted.
Rabadi made the remarks on the sidelines of a conference on the role of the private sector in funding scientific research, organised by Princess Sumaya University for Technology (PSUT) and the Association of Arab Universities (AARU), with participants from 11 Arab countries.
Sultan Abu Orabi, secretary general of the AARU, said a lack of scientific research is a regional problem.
Speaking at the opening of the two-day conference, he noted that Arab countries spend around 0.2 to 0.4 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on research, compared with developed countries, which spend 2.5 to 4 per cent of their GDP on research.
Abu Orabi added that because the environment for scientific research in Arab countries is relatively poor, 50 per cent of Arab students studying science in developed countries do not plan to return to their countries of origin to continue their work.
Obstacles hindering the development of the research environment in the Arab region, include a lack of full-time research scientists and a lack of cooperation between the public and private sectors in funding research, he said.
According to Rabadi, the private sector contributes only 5 per cent of all spending on scientific research in the Kingdom, while in the Arab world 9 per cent of funding for scientific research is provided by the private sector, compared to around 80 per cent in developed countries.
PSUT President Issa Batarseh attributed this deficit in private spending to a lack of trust on the part of the private sector towards universities and their students.
“The private sector is profit-seeking and looks for research that would benefit their industries,” he told conference participants yesterday, adding that Jordan’s science students should be given better preparation for rigorous research while at university and even earlier.