Despite the fiscal year ending on October 1, 2021, Congress has yet to pass appropriations for Fiscal Year 2022. As of now, a continuing resolution funds the government at FY2021 levels through February 18, 2021. The House of Representatives has passed, and Senate Democrats have introduced, appropriations legislation that makes increased investments in higher education. The chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees -commonly known as the “Four Corners”- met on January 13 to continue negotiations.
A deal on FY2022 appropriations may be forthcoming due to the need for additional pandemic relief. The White House is considering submitting a request for more aid for COVID-19 testing, vaccine distribution and relief for overburdened hospitals.
Build Back Better Potentially Split in Two
Yesterday, in a speech before the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) acknowledged that the bill would have to be scaled-back, but also named several high-priority provisions, such as expanding health care coverage, lowering prescription drug costs, and universal pre-kindergarten.
The budget reconciliation package that passed the House of Representatives in November 2021 includes provisions to expand federal student aid eligibility for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients and major investments in research capacity building at Minority Serving Institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Including $3 billion for improving research and development infrastructure for historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, and minority-serving. And $1.2 billion for National Science Foundation core research.
The State of U.S. Science and Engineering 2022
Key takeaways of the report include:
- Global research and development (R&D) performance is concentrated in a few countries, with the United States performing the most (27% of global R&D in 2019), followed by China (22%), Japan (7%), Germany (6%), and South Korea (4%).
- The proportion of total U.S. R&D funded by the U.S. government decreased from 31% in 2010 to an estimated 21% in 2019, even as the absolute amount of federally funded R&D increased.
- Blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented among students earning S&E degrees and among STEM workers with at least a bachelor’s degree. However, their share of STEM workers without a bachelor’s degree is similar to their share in the U.S. workforce.
- The United States awards the most S&E doctorates worldwide. Among S&E doctorate students in the United States, a sizable proportion are international and over half of the doctorate degrees in the fields of economics, computer sciences, engineering, and mathematics and statistics are awarded to international students.
NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan stated in a press release, “This report confirms the urgent need to accelerate and strengthen U.S. science and technology progress. The U.S. National Science Foundation is bringing together its partners to empower our nation’s STEM talent and unleash the full power of U.S. innovation and competitiveness on the most complex challenges facing society.”
In addition to the S&E Indicators Report, the National Science Board also released the policy brief, “The U.S. is a Keystone of Global Science and Engineering” and press release on January 18.
NEH Grants Regarding Infrastructure
Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants support the design, purchase, construction, restoration, or renovation of facilities for humanities activities. NEH awarded 69 Challenge Grants between fiscal years 2019 and 2021 and awarded a total of $24.4 million in grant funding. The Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections program helps cultural institutions preserve humanities materials by supporting sustainable conservation measures that mitigate deterioration, prolong the useful life of collections, and support institutional resilience. NEH awarded 45 Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections awards between fiscal years 2019 and 2021 and awarded a total of $7 million in grant funding.
Update to the Department of Homeland Security STEM Designated Degree Program List
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a Federal Register notice regarding the amendment of the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List. “The list is used to determine whether a degree obtained by certain F-1 nonimmigrant students following the completion of a program of study qualifies as a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree as determined by DHS, for the F-1 student to be eligible to apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion optional practical training (OPT).”
The notice includes the addition of 22 qualifying fields of study to STEM, including Bioenergy, Cloud Computing, Anthrozoology, Climate Science, Economics and Computer Science, Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Social Sciences, Research Methodology and Quantitative Methods, and many others.
“STEM innovation allows us to solve the complex challenges we face today and make a difference in how we secure and protect our country,” said Secretary Mayorkas. “Through STEM education and training opportunities, DHS is expanding the number and diversity of students who excel in STEM education and contribute to the U.S. economy.”
For more information about the expansion of the DHS STEM Designation list, please read the DHS press release.
Important: Announcement from The Administration
DHS Expands Opportunities in U.S. For STEM Professionals
U.S. State Department: New Initiative Further Opportunity for International STEM Students, Scholars and Researchers
U.S. State Department: Early Career STEM Research Initiative
U.S. State Department: Expansion of Academic Training for J-1 STEM grads
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Announces Climate Change Professionals Program