Researchers at Hungary’s Academy of Sciences are worried. They fear the government is trying to seize control over the research budget and to force a restructuring.

As reported by Science Business online, the Hungarian government allegedly wants to ensure that applied research takes precedence over disciplines in the social sciences and says funding for innovation and research should be separated.

At the academy’s general assembly in December, its president László Lovász said he would agree to a restructuring of the institutes if the government did a full evaluation of the entire research and innovation system in Hungary, that is not limited solely to the academy.

“Based on the results of this audit, we are ready to make the necessary structural changes,” said Lovász.

However, last week, Hungary’s Research and Innovation Minister László Palkovics sidestepped Lovász and met directly with the heads of the academy’s research institutes and “requested” their cooperation in making Hungary’s research and innovation system more efficient.

“We all have a suspicion that behind all these measures there is political will to weaken science,” says Antonio Loprieno, president of the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA). “It will be important to keep the distinction between the legitimate and understandable concerns – and the pretexts.”

According to Science Business, the row between the academy and the government has left researchers worried about the future of their jobs, as they can no longer be certain that their research institutes will continue to be funded.

the row between the academy and the government has left researchers worried about the future of their jobs, as they can no longer be certain that their research institutes will continue to be funded

The academy is the dominant research organisation in the country – both funding and conducting research at the country’s universities. It dates to 1825, and employs roughly 5,000 people, of which 3,000 are researchers.