|China Association for Science and Technology|
Arrangements of the upcoming improvement were decided during the State Council's executive meeting on Wednesday, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.
"The best universities made their achievements with the enduring endeavors and enthusiasm of their research fellows and teachers, not by regulating rigidly," Li said. "Thus, it is important to harness the potential of researchers and teachers."
On Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed a conference organized by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the national congress of the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST), stressing the importance of scientific research.
"Currently, the state needs the strategic support of science and technology more urgently than any other time in the past," Xi said.
Also speaking at the conference, Premier Li stressed that "scientific innovation needs to be boosted through institutional reform."
The premier has reiterated the idea that outdated administrative barriers to scientific research should be removed to boost potential and achieve innovation, as well as improve total factor productivity.
In his recent instruction to the CAST's innovation campaign, released on Tuesday, Li called for efforts to boost passion and vision in science and technology and better translate progress in that area into social and economic development.
"We need to acknowledge scientific researchers' contributions and learn from some developed countries that perform well in this regard. Raising financial rewards for researchers is a sign of acknowledgment," Li said while speaking to scientists and researchers at the Monday conference.
The upcoming measures mean that research funds will be granted under fewer administrative procedures and a more flexible way of using research funds is encouraged. The amended regulation calls for a professional finance system so that researchers can focus on research and will not be distracted by procedures.
Universities and research institutions will also be given more freedom in purchasing equipment for research purposes.
Proportional limits on service fees (or financial rewards) for researchers will be completely removed. Financial rewards for researchers were raised from the previous no more than 5 percent to no more than 20 percent of direct expenses after deduction of equipment procurement cost under the amended regulation.
Also, all participants in research projects, including graduate students and visiting scholars, will be eligible to get paid.
Complicated requirements regarding travel reimbursement, such as invoices, during traveling and attending conferences have long been a headache for researchers. A number of rigid rules exist in this regard, creating problems for researchers in carrying out field work and inviting research fellows for academic conferences.
Under the new regulation, reimbursement for business trips and holding academic conferences will be more convenient. Universities will be allowed to create their own regulations regarding reimbursement for traveling expenses, ensuring that researchers won't be burdened by invoice procedures while carrying out field research and attending conferences.
During the Wednesday meeting, Li urged the departments and ministries concerned to revise improper regulations based on the discussions at the meeting, and to ensure that policies from the State Council are fully implemented on the ground. He stressed that this is to make sure that the amended regulation and policy will truly bring benefits and convenience to researchers.
The premier has frequently pointed out such problems while visiting research institutions and universities. During his visit to Tsinghua University in April, he asked how research funds are used while talking with Shi Yigong, dean of the School of Life Sciences at Tsinghua who spent years doing research in the United States.
Li pointed out there is still a gap between China and leading nations of higher education, and that China's rules are too rigid for granting research funds, making China less attractive to first-class talent.
Heads of several universities in Beijing and government departments concerned attending Wednesday's meeting were delighted at the new regulation, saying it will help solve long-existing problems that have burdened universities, and will help generate greater enthusiasm for researchers and increase efficiency.
The State Council and ministries in charge will continue to monitor the implementation of the new policy.
China has 81 million science and technology workers. They are known as the "backbone" of the country's innovation-driven development strategy.