Research loses money for UK universities.

by reestheskin on 25/08/2014

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Profserious of ‘profserious: serious engineering’ agrees. People always seem to feign surprise when I say this. I then follow up with the line that unless you are using endowments, then it is likely that teaching budgets are subsidising research. If, as in medicine, most research is charity funded, the problem is even more acute than in engineering. Of course there is supposed to be money in the system to pay for underfunded charity research, but I am not convinced the gap is filled. Medical students attract large amounts of money, most of which is coming from the tax payer. The problem is that much of this money—whether it comes via the university or the NHS—is not used for teaching, but instead underpins research or supports NHS service. The VCs (as in Principals rather than Venture Capitalists, although I should think more about the differences sometime) will of course want bigger student fees, so that they can fund even more research. There is a lot to be said for cross-charging within an institution; there are also lots of arguments that caution against it as a long term institutional strategy. Finally, this is not a UK only phenomenon (nor, dare I mention it, a Scotland only phenomenon): have a read of Rich DeMillo’s ‘From Abelard to Apple: The Fate of American Colleges and Universities’.

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