UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. See main page for full contents

September 24, 2009

BAD DAYS AHEAD FOR BRITISH PROFS: GOVERNMENT SAYS RESEARCH CAN'T BE 'POINTLESS'

Guardian, UK - The [British] government is to stop funding "pointless" university research, forcing academics to prove that their academic inquiry has some relevance to the real world, funding chiefs will announce today.Universities will have to show that their research influences the economy, public policy or society in order to secure the biggest research grants, the government's funding body for higher education said. The plans are contained in proposals for a new system of allocating L1.76bn in government funds for academic research every year called the Research Excellence Framework. Lecturers warned that the move would restrict academic freedom by preventing speculative "blue skies" research.

4 Comments:

Blogger m said...

Pointless -- by whose standards? Some bureaucrat who doesn't understand science? Einstein's, Hawking's and Darwin's work, amongst a host of others would have been ignored because it had no apparent benefit to society. Who would have funded the earliest work that led to the eventual development of transistors? This led not only to radios, but computers, cell phones, and every other advanced technology dependent on electronics. From medicine to increased gas mileage.

Research works best when it follows the nose of the investigator. The seminal investigations of all great discoveries would have been seen as fanciful "pie in the sky" money wasters. The insistence on result oriented investigation is likely one of the reasons that cancer research is moving ahead so slowly.

September 24, 2009 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you ask government to give you something, you also give it the power to take it away.

September 24, 2009 10:57 AM  
Anonymous Mairead said...

Well said as usual, M.

"Sorry, Professor, but you must see that we can no longer afford to just hand out money to anyone but bankers. You scientists must present a plan for your next breakthrough with a clear timeline and milestones, and a précis of what the breakthrough will deliver in ROI terms"

September 24, 2009 5:51 PM  
Anonymous Axel in Montreal said...

Phew! - Thank Heavens North American conservatives are unlikely to borrow ideas from socialists! Oh, wait, now it's Obama...

September 25, 2009 12:32 PM  

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