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EUA response to European Research Council (ERC) Review Panel

28 May 2009

EUA has published its response to the current review of the European Research Council (ERC), following a consultation with its 34 National Rectors’ Conferences.

In the statement, EUA underlines that while the ERC has demonstrated its capacity to act as a ‘catalyst’ in mobilising scientific excellence in Europe, its funding will need to be substantially increased in the future to support high-quality research applications. Otherwise, EUA warns, there will be a clear risk of researchers turning away because of a low success rate of applications due to limited resources. EUA also calls on the ERC to review its decision to limit the reimbursement of indirect costs to a flat rate of 20%, stressing that universities need to receive the full costs of conducting externally-funded research.

In its response, EUA suggests that an evaluation of the current selection process from a gender perspective would be desirable, as the low participation of female researcher requires further ‘analysis and attention’. The ERC should also ensure its application procedures are as clear and simple as possible, and it should consider publishing advice to young researchers, particularly from new member states, on how to improve their chances of success.

The EUA response also covers other major issues in the review such as the transparency and structure of the peer review procedures, the selection of the ERC Scientific Committee members, and the advantages and disadvantages of moving away from the present structure, where the ERC acts as an Executive Agency of the Commission, to a more independent structure.

EUA underlines that a key issue for universities is the need for the continued simplification of FP7 operation, financial and reporting procedures. A potential risk of having a separate and independent ERC may therefore be the introduction of separate rules and procedures which could undermine the progress of the ‘simplification process’ to date, the statement notes.  EUA believes the ERC Executive Agency should work within the FP7 simplification policy while preserving its core principles of autonomy, excellence and transparency in its decision making.

Please click here to read the full EUA response.

European University Association (EUA)

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