We have the brains to diversify funding

February 4, 2010

I welcome David Greenaway's more realistic appraisal of the way forward for university financing ("We did it before ...", 28 January). The higher education sector has done well over the past decade in terms of public funding, but thanks to the global economic recession, we need to tighten our belts. While we may continue to make the case for public funding, we should work harder to diversify our income. We draw on the top 10 per cent of the UK's brainpower and should be able to use it to good effect.

One comparison with the US that Greenaway did not make was that American faculty are generally paid a salary for a proportion of the year: for the remainder they must fund their own pay. While I am not advocating such a system, it may be an interesting discipline for staff to consider how to use their talents to bring in, on a regular basis, the equivalent of, say, two months' pay (on top of their normal contribution to teaching, research income and so forth). Some may prefer to opt for more enterprising endeavours, but this need not be the sole route.

Elizabeth Chell, Professor of entrepreneurial behaviour and research consultant, Kingston University.

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