(Newfield 2011) The view from 2020: how universities came back

Newfield, Christopher. The view from 2020: how universities came back. AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom. 2011; 2. Available from: http://www.academicfreedomjournal.org/VolumeTwo/Newfield.pdf. Accessed 2012 Jan 3. Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/64PaarcdA.

Newfield traces the root causes of the current financial woes of higher education, using the rhetorical device of a view from a hypothetical near future in which the problems have been fixed. Essentially, there are two root causes. One is well known: sustained decreases in public funding. The other is not: a consistent pattern of net losses from ever-increasing science and technology research grants, especially in the biomedical sciences. These losses occur because research sponsors are not required to cover the full cost of the overhead expenses (facilities and administration) that are needed to carry out the research. Contrary to popular opinion, it is the humanities and social science departments that subsidize natural sciences and engineering in universities, not the other way around. When corporations are allowed to privatize the results of the research and profit from subsequent product development, they can actually get a bargain by letting universities carry out their research and pay the overhead that they would otherwise have to pay themselves. The government can likewise get more research than it pays for, in fields like biomedical science, because its grants also do not fully cover overhead.


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Last revision: March 4, 2013