Mass Protest

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Science  13 Dec 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5601, pp. 2111b
DOI: 10.1126/science.298.5601.2111b

The rectors of Italy's 77 state universities resigned en masse this week to protest government plans to cut budgets and freeze hiring. The dramatic move came as Parliament debated plans to cut spending at some universities and research institutions by up to one-third.

The resignations—which can still be withdrawn—are “a consequence of a policy of dismantling research and university culture,” says Flaminia Saccá of Rome University, who also handles research policy for Italy's largest opposition party, the “Democrats of the Left.” The protesters want lawmakers to restore budget increases promised by previous governments or to at least minimize cuts.

Italy's finance ministry called the move “impetuous,” because lawmakers are still hammering out the final budget. But the rectors say the risky gesture was necessary to call attention to academia's financial plight. As Science went to press, researchers said the issue could be resolved soon.

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