Funding focus would shrink UK research 2

December 4, 2008

Paul Wellings argues that having a small number of elite universities specialising in postgraduate research would be more efficient and more beneficial for the research student experience.

But this one-model-fits-everything approach has some drawbacks. The large postgraduate school can sometimes function as a PhD production line, and there are other kinds of research community that give students a better experience.

Wellings says these schools should run alongside technology-transfer offices that will draw out new intellectual property. This suggests not only wiping out a whole range of thriving research environments that lie outside these centres, but also a whole range of excellent research that does not generate technology-based intellectual property.

This is a slash-and-burn vision where everything is invested in a "cash crop" that will sell in the "knowledge economy". It is a vision that should be rejected by all who have an interest in UK research beyond the technology/business model, in favour of an approach that encourages variation, experimentation and originality across the whole range of possibilities.

Phil Cole, University of Wales, Newport.

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