Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Contemplating Turkeys

Dear David

Happy New Year to you. Whilst the rest of us were pulling crackers and flicking through the bumper copy of the Radio Times, it looks like you were hard at work planning the next phase of the Coalition's higher education strategy. Really David; you should have rested completely. Good policy does not come from contemplating turkeys.

I must admit that I was a little bewildered (as were many on Twitter) by the plans you announced today for privately-funded graduate institutions. Now I know I've had a long break (with the Guardian noting how befuddled the workforce is after the long Christmas 'Lull'), but am I missing something?

Run it by me again, David: you want universities to set up international collaborations, using private money, to found new research intensive 'hubs'? But the Government isn't going to contribute? Even the land for it is expected to be given, gratis, by a UK city. Would those be the same cities currently being squeezed by the Government's austerity measures?

I'm afraid it has the feeling of a magician's sleight of hand: if you twirl the handkerchief wildly enough, and blind us with magical words, will it make you seem dynamic, thrusting, forward thinking, and decisive - without really having to produce anything?

I don't think so. I'm pleased to read about your support for UK research and innovation, but if you really feel that 'high-tech, high-quality science and research...will drive economic growth as we go into the next decade', then why not invest in it? Sure, use the public funding to leverage private investment, but don't expect commercial organisations to come running to the aid of the UK's research base. If even the Government doesn't want to invest, why should anyone else?

As you suggest, 'our research community is the most productive in the world.' Let's do all we can to keep it so. Enough grand words. Time for some real commitment.

1 comment:

  1. This letter can be send without major changes to Mariano Rajoy too...Both are cutting money at R+D and IT, both are following the same erroneous strategy to face the financial crisis.