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Serbia’s scientists warn of PhD pause risk


Those starting doctorates this year unfairly excluded from nation’s science fund, researchers warn

Scientists in Serbia are urging the government to allow new PhD students access to the country’s main research fund, to stop them having to pause research projects for up to a year.

The Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia’s call for projects under the Prism programme, which supports basic and applied research, offers funding for individual projects.

An initial deadline to apply of 15 September was extended to 15 October. But some scientists want the application deadline extended to November so new PhD students who start in October have time to properly participate, and have called for the change in an open letter to the government earlier this month.

“We cannot include new PhD students in our teams since they are not enrolled in PhD studies until the end of October,” said Maja Kosanović, a senior research associate at Institute for the Application of Nuclear Energy at the University of Belgrade, who co-organised the letter.

If this deadline is not extended, some students face having to put work on hold until they can apply for support next year.

Institutional funding for consumables is about €2 euros a day per scientist, but expenses can go up to €20,000 euros for one project, according to Kosanović.

“One whole generation must probably wait a year before they have another chance to do their PhD without worrying about funding for each piece of consumables,” warns Kosanović.

“Whatever the reason might be, science in Serbia is much slowed and our, primarily human, capacities are not adequately used due to extremely low funding.”

The Science Fund and Serbia’s science ministry did not respond to requests for comment by the time this story was published.