WITHERING ACADEMIA? by Bruno S. Frey
University of Warwick, University of Zurich,
CREMA – Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts, Switzerland∗
(this version 9 September 2010/BSF)
Abstract: Strong forces lead to a withering of academia as it exists today. The major causal forces are the rankings mania, increased division of labor in research, intense publication pressure, academic fraud, dilution of the concept of “university,” and inadequate organizational forms for modern research. Academia, in a broader sense understood as “the locus of seeking truth and learning through methodological inquiry,” will subsist in different forms. The conclusion is therefore pessimistic with respect to the academic system as it presently exists but not to scholarly endeavour as such. However, the transformation predicted is expected to be fundamental.
I don’t agree with all of this, but it is thought-provoking nonetheless.
The Brown Report is now available. It proposes a deferred payment model to part-fund third-level in the UK.
•• Students pay nothing up front. Graduates only make payments when they are earning above
£21,000 per year.
•• Payments are affordable – 9% of any income above £21,000.
•• If earnings drop, then payments drop. If graduates stop work for whatever reason, then payments stop
•• The payment threshold is reviewed regularly to bring it into line with growth in earnings
•• The interest rate on the loans is the low rate that Government itself pays on borrowing money. There is a rebate for low earners.
•• Any balance remaining after 30 years is written off
The report is a model of clarity. Will the Hunt Report be similar?
Here’s disturbing story from the UK (reg req):
Recession-hit companies scale back university liaison offices
Universities could find it more difficult to find industry research partners as hi-tech companies look to scale back or close their academic liaison departments in the wake of the financial crisis.
And a quote:
The defence technology company QinetiQ, spun out of the government’s Defence Evaluation and Research Agency in 2001, has closed its central academic liaison department. And within the past few months, the mobile telecoms company Vodaphone has moved its academic cooperation work into a single office in Germany. Previously, academic liaison was handled by a team scattered across different countries including Germany, the UK and Spain.
This has to be a concern if it is generally true: the idea that industry-academic partnerships are a good thing is reasonable on the face of it, but if industry decides it’s not interested, then what…?
A previous post here gives a very different perspective on how such interactions might actually evolve.