More Funding for Universities Hurts the Economy

Stephen Downes points us to an article about the apparent negative correlation between economic growth an university funding. Here are some good quotes:

Universities, while they’re virtuous institutions … do not necessarily promote economic growth and development, because resources have to be taken from the private sector or somewhere to pay for them

There is very, very, very weak evidence that more spending on state universities actually leads to more college graduates — let alone higher-quality ones.

See also my posts An upcoming revolution in science? The end of academic journals?, A Tectonic Shift in Global Higher Education and Big schools are no longer giving researchers an edge?

One thought on “More Funding for Universities Hurts the Economy”

  1. In Tim Flannery’s book (2005) “The Weather Makers” he made this observation which prompted me to stop reading and think about it for awhile:

    Alfred Russel Wallace … came up with the phrase “The Great Aerial Ocean” to describe the atmosphere… Wallace’s phrase was born of a romantic era of scientific discovery when both amateurs and professionals were making significant contributions … ” p. 12

    This passage made me wonder whether general scientific literacy and enthusiasm has been eroded by turning scientific discovery into an activity that can only be funded if you hold a Ph.d in a university. The effects of funneling all our research dollars into “Institutes of Higher Learning” isn’t simply that the economic payoff isn’t that great, but that in the case of climate change the failure to engage the general public in the scientific discovery process has and will continue to lead to political inaction on the issue. What would happen if 2/3rds of all research funding for climate change was reallocated to individuals and institutions not employed by a universities? Creating this pot of general public research dollars would, in my opinion, do more benefit for the planet than spending it on the latest computers, software, lab techs, etc… to model climate change… Maybe we need to restructure our institutions back towards the romantic era to deal with climate change issues.

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