(UPI) -- A survey of university leaders has shown that the sequester -- mandatory budget cuts which will remain in effect for the next eight years unless Congress acts -- will adversely affect the innovation and technology edge the U.S. enjoys.
The survey, conducted by the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and The Science Coalition, asked leaders from 171 public and private research universities about the effects of the sequester.
The survey suggests cuts to federal research grants and delayed federal projects have already had a negative impact.
“If Congress fails to reverse course and doesn’t begin to value investments in research and higher education, then the innovation deficit this country is facing will worsen as our foreign competitors continue to seize on this nation’s shortfall,” said APLU president Peter McPherson.
Fifty-eight percent of the respondents cited personnel reduction as a reason for this slowing down, with fifty percent of those attributing it to position reductions and 24 percent to layoffs.
Compounding the effect of reduced federal grants and delayed projects are the inability to purchase research equipment and cancelled or delayed field work.
“Given the impact we already have seen, we urge the members of the House and Senate who are negotiating funding for FY2014 and beyond to end sequestration, enable investments in scientific research and higher education, and restore the dividends these investments produce for our economy and society," said Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun.
While the early effects of the sequester weren't as harmful as expected -- largely because universities exhausted reserve funds, realigned activities and reassigned faculty positions -- these options wont be available in the coming years.