5.12.2009

Universities Are Being Turned Into Corporate Research Departments

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/may/11/science-research-business
http://firgoa.usc.es/drupal/files/images/Corporate%20University_0.GIFhttp://www.edweek.org/media/2008/10/03/07boaler.jpg
Why is the Medical Research Council run by an arms manufacturer? Why is the Natural Environment Research Council run by the head of a construction company? Why is the chairman of a real estate firm in charge of higher education funding for England?
Because our[Not only in the UK] universities are being turned into corporate research departments. No longer may they pursue knowledge for its own sake: the highest ambition to which they must aspire is finding better ways to make money.[!!!]
Last month, unremarked by the media, a quiet intellectual revolution took place. The research councils, which provide 90% of the funding for acad­em­ic research, introduced a requirement for those seeking grants: they must describe the economic impact of the work they want to conduct. The councils define impact as the "demonstrable contribution" research can make to society and the economy. But how do you demonstrate the impact of blue skies research before it has been conducted?
The idea, the government says, is to transfer knowledge from the universities to industry, boosting the economy and helping to lift us out of recession. There's nothing wrong, in principle, with commercialising scientific discoveries. But imposing this condition on the pursuit of all knowledge does not enrich us; it impoverishes us, reducing the wonders of the universe to figures in an accountant's ledger.
Picture Charles Darwin trying to fill out his application form before embarking on the Beagle. "Explain how the research has the potential to impact on the nation's health, wealth or culture. For example: fostering global economic performance, and specifically the economic competitiveness of the United Kingdom … What are the realistic time­scales for the benefits to be realised?" If Darwin had been dependent on a grant from a British research council, he would never have set sail.
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