Ainas blog no. 1/2015
It’s the Dream
2 December 2013 at 04:15 pm we sent our application for admittance to the system of basic financing to the Research Council of Norway. Included in the application was Olav H Hauge’s poem It’s the Dream: It’s that dream that we carry with us that something wonderful will happen, that it has to happen, that time will open, that hearts will open, that doors will open, that the mountains will open, that wells will leap up, that the dream will open, that one morning we’ll quietly drift into a harbor we didn’t know was there. Patience is not a virtue The application itself numbered 45 pages; in addition there were a long list of addenda containing numbers and facts of all kinds for the last three years. The paper version of the application weighed about as much as a well grown pug. But most importantly: it was the result of a fantastic work effort from the whole company. While we waited for the Research Council evaluation, we arranged an intense lobbying campaign towards the budgetary authorities. Our reward materialized in the revised national budget in May 2014, where we received 15 million in so-called “qualifying financing” for research institutes applying for admission to the basic financing system.
possible to lobby for changes in the budget before the final decision in the Storting 15 December. We Managing. Dir. Aina Berg therefore contacted central persons in the Liberal Party (Venstre). They promised they would try to help us, and when the party presented its alternative budget, an increase in the grant to the research institutes was predictably there. However, we were not explicitly mentioned. Then the budget negotiations started - a process in which the members of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs are crucial. The Liberal Party (Venstre) and the Progress Party (Fremskrittpartiet) representatives were very supportive – so much so that they called us during the negotiations to inform us of the status. At last the Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs delivered its proposal, still not mentioning us in particular, but some of the money for the institute sector had been moved around. Did this mean that there was still a slight hope? The deadline was approaching.
We got 10 of them, but we were not satisfied. We wanted admission to the system from 2015 onwards, on an equal footing with the institutes being part of the system. So we continued the struggle. The number of meetings, phone calls, notes and nights with little or no sleep were many – I have forgotten how many.
The last stage of the discussion on the national budget in the Storting consists in the different committees presenting their proposals. We were in close contact with several people in the Standing Committee on Education, Research and Church Affairs, from the Labour Party, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, and the Progress Party. The result was a decision on 15 December giving us an additional 10 million to the 10 million we got in the revised national budget in May. 20 million is great, but we needed 31 million to be admitted into the system. Christmas was a period of ambivalence.
The budget race 25 September we finally received the approval from the Research Council. Five other institutes applied for admission at the same time as we did, but we were the only ones to succeed. We celebrated the result of course, but we had still not quite reached our goal: we had to make sure that the money we needed would be granted in the national budget for 2015. We needed 31 million – and we wondered: were we too late for the 2015 budget? Yes, people said, we had to wait for 2016.
It’s the Dream Now the question was: what would the Ministry of Education and Research and the Research Council do, given that the sum granted was not sufficient? We tried – through polite pressure – to convince them that it would be a good thing to admit us into the system: nobody would lose anything if we were admitted, and we enter