The Eötvös Loránd Research Network (ELKH) Secretariat has started the distribution of the additional funds provided by the government covering general operational costs and the salary increase at research sites belonging to the network. Researchers and employees working in other functions will start receiving their increased salary in November, effective from 1 July 2020. The decision regarding the pay rise of individual staff members is delegated to the institution heads and impacts close to 5,000 researchers and other staff, with an average increase of 30 percent. The ELKH Secretariat will also distribute an additional HUF 5.5 billion to cover this year's operational costs. The institutes are free to decide how the funds are used.
The ELKH Governing Board decided on the allocation of the HUF 11 billion additional government funds provided to the research network for 2020. As a result, research sites belonging to the network now receive funding for salary increases, operational and maintenance costs, and research infrastructure development. The ELKH Secretariat initiated the distribution of the funds last week.
A significant part of the additional funding, HUF 3.6 billion, can be spent on 30 percent average salary increase of researchers and support staff, effective from 1 July 2020. Young researchers employed in the tender system will receive an incremental 20 percent increase. The ELKH Secretariat will provide HUF 5.5 billion in additional funding to cover the network's 2020 operational expenses. The institutions can use these funds in accordance with their own needs, under the authority of the heads of the institutions.
A decision was also made to allocate HUF 875.3 million in additional funding for infrastructure development purposes in support of the tenders submitted by the institutions earlier this year. This adds up to a total of over HUF 1.7 billion targeted at research infrastructure development in the ELKH network in 2020. The remaining amount will be used by the ELKH Secretariat to finance central tasks and to create a reserve for unforeseen tasks.
“The first steps taken to ensure the professional and financial conditions necessary for the long-term successful operation and development of the ELKH research network include the settlement of researchers’ salaries and the improvement of research infrastructure and research opportunities. All of this can help us recruit and retain talented researchers, and will have a positive impact on performance and results in the long term,” said Dr. Miklós Maróth, Chairman of the ELKH Governing Board, who emphasized that "The autonomy of the institutions is strengthened by the fact that the decision related to the details of the pay rise and the use of additional government funding covering this year's operational costs is delegated to the institutions, with the ELKH Presidency and Governing Board only providing the necessary framework and conditions."
With the annual incremental HUF 22 billion from 2021, the funding available for financing the research network will more than double. A significant share of this amount – approximately HUF 9 billion – will go towards salary increases. The reminder of the funds can be used to support the operations of the network, including research projects, excellence programs and the full operational costs of the buildings. The new funding structure replaces the static rate-based allocation applied by the previous support organization over the past 25 years that was unrelated to either the headcount of the institutions, their performance or how much funding was needed by an institution to operate in a given year. The new model is expected to make the funding of the research network more transparent, efficient and predictable, and will support excellence in research, thus increasing the competitiveness of the network.