The BBVA Center for Financial Education and Capability’s grant program for financial education researchers, BBVA EduFin Research Grants, continues to grow each year. Despite the crisis caused by the global pandemic, the call for applicants saw a greater geographic reach, making this year the most international yet. The overall number of applications also increased.
The 2020 BBVA EduFin Research Grants was launched on March 18, a week after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global pandemic. Initially, the project submission deadline was May 18. Ultimately, it was extended until June 15 to ensure researchers would not have to forgo their submissions because of the coronavirus crisis.
Despite the challenging times, the Center’s call for research proposals received a remarkably warm welcome. 40 applications were received, representing an increase of 5 percent from the previous year. Furthermore, the geographic span grew with participation coming from 23 countries in 2020, compared to 17 countries in 2019. Ranked by country, Argentina came in first with 12.5 percent of the proposed projects, followed by Colombia (10 percent), and Mexico and Spain (together at 7.5 percent). With respect to proposed topics, this year the proposals were heavily focused on financial education and inequality (35%).
A future full of challenges
University proposals lead in the application numbers with 22 projects presented. This is a commendable figure considering the fact that the academic world is having to devote its efforts to adapting to distance learning and devising new evaluation criteria. The situation is complicated on all fronts, particularly in the financial. “The contraction in EU GDP this year is expected to be 7.5% or higher, far deeper than during the financial crisis in 2009,” explains the report The impact of the Covid-19 Crisis on university funding in Europe produced by the European University Association (EUA). “Against this challenging backdrop, many European universities will see their funding affected in the short to long term,” the report goes on to say.
If university participation in the call for proposals has been impressive, so too has been the interest from think tanks and research institutes. Many of these groups have experienced financial problems and personnel cuts, thus limiting the scope of the work they can take on. According to a survey of more than 500 researchers from different areas, conducted by the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP), the major concerns regarding the future of the sector are: funding problems, delays in research, lack of collaborative opportunities, and travel limitations. According to the survey results, researchers are worried that funding options, like grant programs, will be diverted to COVID-19 related research, leaving other areas to the side.
The BBVA Center for Financial Education and Capability will continue to support experts and researchers who work in the field, positioning it as an engine for sustainable development and a source of opportunities. The 2020 EduFin Research Grants will distribute a total of €50,000 to project finalists. They will be delivered as three prizes of €10,000 each and four prizes of €5,000 each. The prizes will be awarded, according to monetary value, based on depth and reach of the selected research projects.