Universities, governments and industry Sample Essay

Having spent 40 old ages in universities. I have had sufficient clip to see some of the foibles. idiosyncrasies and jobs of these academic establishments. The intent of this column is to discourse the current province of university research and explicate why I find some facets of the current state of affairs disturbing. Changes that started during the 2nd half of the twentieth century and that have continued into the 21st threaten to convey about cardinal alterations in the nature of universities. Some of the alterations are applaudable. for illustration. the big enlargement in the proportion of the population go toing universities. at least in the richer states. Other tendencies are upseting. particularly the increasing inclination of authoritiess and industry to see universities as engines for short-run economic addition. While universities surely can non disregard the context in which they function and the demands of society. reacting strictly to short-run economic considerations threatens to overthrow the very nature of universities and some of the benefits they provide to society. So what precisely is a university and what is its intent? I much prefer the Oxford English Dictionary definition of the word “university” to some of the more useful definitions in other lexicons.

The Oxford definition reads. in portion. “whole organic structure of instructors and bookmans engaged in the higher subdivisions of larning. ” Therefore. it is the community of module and pupils that is the kernel of a university. The higher subdivisions of acquisition in which instructors and bookmans engage have 2 of import merchandises: the educated heads that are indispensable for the wellbeing of society. and new cognition and thoughts. Some of that new cognition will enrich society by bring forthing economic growing. straight or indirectly. but the benefits of new cognition go far beyond economic addition. Universities have ever been subjected to outside influences. The oldest European university. the University of Bologna. has existed at least since the 1080s. Some clip before 1222. about 1000 pupils left Bologna and founded a new university in Padua because of “the dangerous offense that was brought to bear on their academic autonomies and the failure to admit the privileges solemnly granted to instructors and pupils. ”1 The outside intervention came from the Roman Catholic Church. and. for several centuries. Padua was home to the lone university in Europe where non-Catholics could acquire a university instruction. Both Bologna and Padua were student-controlled universities with pupils electing the professors and repairing their wages.

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However. in malice of pronounced differences. there are similarities between what happened so and what is go oning today. with of import outside influences — so the tenet of faith. now the tenet of concern — endangering to alter the activities of the community of instructors and bookmans. The seeds of what is go oning now were sown in the old ages following World War II. Before the war the most of import influence on a module member was likely the departmental chair. who in those yearss had power to act upon in an of import manner what went on in the section. Nonetheless. a module member would hold had entree to departmental resources and would non needfully hold required outside research support ( although such support was sometimes available from private foundations ) . The mechanism of funding research. and the sum of money available for research. changed greatly in the postwar old ages. In 1945. Vannevar Bush’s landmark study to President Harry Truman. Science the Endless Frontier. 2 had an of import influence on university research. In this study. Bush stated. “The publically and in private supported colleges. universities. and research institutes are the centres of basic research. They are the wellheads of cognition and apprehension.

Equally long as they are vigorous and healthy and their scientists are free to prosecute the truth wherever it may take. there will be a flow of new scientific cognition to those who can use it to practical jobs in Government. in industry. or elsewhere. ” Bush supported the thought that the US authorities should supply strong fiscal support for university research. but besides supported the thought that the single research worker should be the chief determiner of the subjects for probe. with statements such as “Scientific advancement on a wide forepart consequences from the free drama of free minds. working on topics of their ain pick. in the mode dictated by their wonder for geographic expedition of the unknown. ”2 In the latter half of the last century. many states adopted the theoretical account of allowing councils. which used a system based on equal reappraisal to administer money for investigator-initiated research. This theoretical account has been a great success. but it has besides contributed to of import alterations in universities. Much more money has been available to back up medical research. basic scientific discipline research and technology research than has been available for the societal scientific disciplines or humanistic disciplines.

Therefore. determinations about support for different subjects devolved from the universities to authoritiess. who decided on the budgets of their assorted grant-giving organic structures. Besides. single research workers who were successful in obtaining grants no longer depended every bit much on departmental installations. In my sentiment. this non merely weakened the power of departmental chairs but besides decreased collegiality within sections. With increased registrations. as a university instruction became accessible to a greater proportion of the population. and an increased demand for substructure for the larger pupil population and for complex research equipment. decision makers became more concerned about beginnings of support and accordingly more degage from the module. There is ever a inclination for senior academic decision makers to talk and act as though they were the university ( when of class they are at that place to function the community of instructors and bookmans ) . This is of class a normal human trait. no different from the inclination of politicians to bury that they are elected to function the people. However. this increasing withdrawal of senior university decision makers from the module has facilitated the eroding of collegiality within sections and universities.

The single personalities of university module likely besides facilitated this alteration. I learned late. when looking at the literature on personality. that an reverse correlativity between intelligence and conscientiousness has been demonstrated in a figure of surveies ( see. for illustration. Moutafi et al3 ) . Therefore. it might be more than merely my paranoia taking me to believe that the little proportion of university module who lack conscientiousness and collegiality is larger than in some other walks of life. The eroding of collegiality is non a affair of great significance. except that it likely played a function in doing research workers more unfastened to the attempts of authoritiess to transform them into enterprisers. The most recent and perchance the most of import alteration in university research resulted from the push by authoritiess to commercialize the consequences of such research. In the United States. the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 bucked up universities to licence to private industry finds made with federal financess. 4 The push by authoritiess for commercialisation of new cognition grew during the 1980s and 1990s and continues to hold an of import influence on universities.

Recently. Lord Sainsbury. the scientific discipline and invention curate in the United Kingdom. boasted that there had been a cultural alteration in universities at that place. which has resulted in a significant addition in university by-products. 5 In 2002 the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada entered an understanding with the authorities to duplicate the sum of research performed by these establishments and to treble their commercialisation public presentation by 2010. 6 Although this understanding was reached in the absence of any wide audience with the module who are supposed to commercialize their work. the universities seem to be good on path to accomplish this aim. with a 126 % addition in grosss from license royalties between 1999 and 2001. 7Most major universities now have a engineering transportation office. and at many universities success in commercialisation is taken into history when module are considered for term of office. Will at that place come a clip when success in commercialisation carries the same weight as ( or more weight than ) instruction and research in the awarding of term of office? The terminal consequence of all the alterations discussed above is that single module members have become much more similar enterprisers whose chief commitment is to the care or growing of their ain research plans and non infrequently to the commercialisation of their research.

The research worker researching Vannevar Bush’s “endless frontier” could be considered the modern equivalent of the squatter chastening the apparently eternal frontier of the nineteenth century American West. 8 This is non needfully detrimental if a new coevals of university research entrepreneurs provides the new cognition that will profit patients and society. However. the alteration in civilization that made university module more like enterprisers besides made them more unfastened to the desire of authoritiess to do them enterprisers in the economic sense. Although the nature of universities has been altering. there was no menace to the cardinal nature of universities until the thrust for commercialisation began. A recent study of the Canadian Association of University Teachers9 states that university decision makers have been “building progressively hierarchal direction structures” that “place the hereafter of academic medical specialty in danger. ”

The report’s chief concern is that “incentives to make commercializable merchandises push economic concerns. instead than scientific and ethical considerations. to the head. ”9In the Fieldss of biologic psychopathology and behavioral neuroscience the accent on commercial applications has already. to some extent. moved research priorities off from an accent on mental wellbeing to an accent on commercial merchandises. There are many illustrations of this displacement. For illustration. more research is being carried out on antidepressant drugs than on psychotherapeutics. even though in mild to chair depression ( the bulk of instances ) drugs and psychotherapeutics are about equal in efficaciousness. There is increasing grounds for the efficaciousness of exercise10. 11 and fish oils12. 13 in the intervention and bar of depression. However. these schemes receive much less attending than antidepressant drugs. Even an established antidepressant intervention such as S-adenosylmethionine ( SAMe ) 14 receives small attending. Searching the abstracts of the 2004 meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. I found 179 with the cardinal word “antidepressant” and merely 4 with the cardinal word “S-adenosylmethionine. ” and none of those 4 was concerned with the antidepressant action of SAMe.

SAMe is a major methyl giver and seems to work in a basically different manner from any merchandise being investigated by drug companies. Surely we could anticipate that an antidepressant playing through a different mechanism would be a popular subject of probe. However. SAMe is a natural merchandise and non of commercial involvement. Similarly. penetrations into what exercising or fish oils do to the encephalon may supply of import penetrations into the pathophysiology of depression and its intervention. but these topics receive small attending. Many basic scientific discipline research workers look intoing the mechanisms of antidepressants produced by drug companies do non have support from those companies. However. adequate are lured by drug company research financess into working on subjects of involvement to the companies to significantly act upon what are stylish subjects of research.

Labs with support from industry can frequently afford more trainees. who may so follow a more industry-centred attack in their ain research. While the handiness of financess from industry has surely influenced research. the force per unit area on university module to commercialize the consequences of their research will doubtless do even greater deformation in the countries of research that are most popular. Allowing bureaus have progressively tried to further research in neglected countries by apportioning financess to specific countries of research and bespeaking applications in those countries. Although this attack is surely necessary. it has non done much to change the effects of drug company money on research end product. Besides. in some ways it moves research even further off from the ideal in Vannevar Bush’s study that “Scientific advancement on a wide forepart consequences from the free drama of free minds. working on topics of their ain pick. in the mode dictated by their wonder for geographic expedition of the unknown. ”

This theoretical account was notably successful in the last half of the twentieth century. but it may non last the force per unit area to commercialize. While there is still much range for curiosity-driven research. the wonder of research workers is likely to be aligned progressively with the involvements of drug companies. As mentioned above. a cultural alteration has accompanied the increasing commercialisation of university research. The force per unit area to commercialize has been critiqued in some quarters. but many university module have however embraced commercialisation. or at least remained unconcerned about it. Are we far from a clip when a research worker without a patent that is being commercialized will be regarded in the same manner as those who do non print on a regular basis in the top diaries? And how long will it be before authoritiess make commercialisation a authorization of allowing councils and a demand for the bulk of grants? A captivation with the workings of the encephalon and how it can misfunction in mental unwellness is the usual incentive for research workers in neuroscience and psychopathology research. As a consequence. curiosity-driven research will ever be given to function the best involvements of patients.

Although research driven by commercial involvements will surely profit psychiatric patients in some ways. it can non function their overall demands. as it is much excessively narrowly focussed. The appellation of financess by allowing bureaus for specific neglected subjects will assist but is improbable to bring forth any big alterations in the way of research. Therefore. the biggest also-rans from the force per unit area to commercialize will be psychiatric patients. In add-on I am concerned whether pupils who are trained to concentrate on the short-run commercial deductions of their research will be able to keep the comprehensiveness of vision that is a feature of the bulk of originative research workers. Changes due to coerce from authoritiess to commercialize are non limited to research workers. The increased accent on commercialisation in universities has in some ways distorted the perceptual experiences of senior university decision makers about the intent of the establishments. For illustration. at that place seems to be a deficiency of concern about some of the beginnings of financess that universities receive. Universities now hold patents on many life-saving drugs.

These patents sometimes limit entree to the drugs. peculiarly in low-income states. 15 In Canada. one-fourth of the modules of medical specialty receive support from the baccy industry. 16 Possibly a suited future definition of a university will be a “whole organic structure of instructors and bookmans engaged in turning thoughts into net income. ” In thirteenth century Italy the response to intervention by the Roman Catholic Church in the work of bookmans was a move to another location to get away the intervention. In the twenty-first century that option is non available even to the minority who are concerned about the thrust to commercialize. However. the image is non wholly black. Charitable foundations will stay immune to commercial involvements. In add-on. even though charitable foundations will likely stay comparatively little participants in the support of research. there are assuring marks.

For illustration. the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. created in 2000. has an gift of about US $ 27 billion and is endeavoring to utilize its money for the benefit of world in countries neglected by authoritiess. This foundation is non involved in psychiatric research. but its focal point on preventative attacks may assist to direct involvement to that of import country. Research on bar in psychopathology is still in its babyhood and will surely stay that manner if short-run commercial considerations stay paramount. However. charitable foundations can non be expected to hold any big consequence on the alteration in university civilization brought approximately by the thrust to commercialize. Although I would wish to be able to stop this column on a more hopeful note. I am concerned about these cultural alterations. and I do non see any solution. Still. one lesson from history is that the communities of instructors and bookmans doing up universities have adapted to many alterations over the centuries without altering the cardinal nature of universities. and they will certainly go on to make so. I am merely non certain how.


1. History. Padua ( Italy ) : Universita Degli Studi di Padova. Available: World Wide Web. unipd. it/en/university/history. htm ( accessed 2004 Dec 13 ) . 2. Bush V. Science the endless frontier. A study to the President by Vannevar Bush. Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development. July 1945. Washington: US Government Printing Office ; 1945. Available: World Wide Web. National Science Foundation. gov/od/lpa/nsf50/vbush1945. htm ( accessed 2004 Dec 13 ) . 3. Moutafi J. Furnham A. Paltiel L. Why is conscientiousness negatively correlated with intelligence? Pers Individ Differ 2004 ; 37:1013-22. 4. Thursby JG. Thursby MC. Intellectual belongings. University licensing and the Bayh-Dole Act. Science2003 ; 301:1052. [ PubMed ] 5. Sainsbury L. A cultural alteration in UK universities [ editorial ] . Science2002 ; 296:1929. [ PubMed ] 6. Allan Rock welcomes model on federally funded university research [ imperativeness release ] . Toronto: Industry Canada ; 2002 Nov 19 [ modified 2003 Jun 16 ] . Available: World Wide Web. Intelligence Community. gigahertz. ca/cmb/welcomeic. nsf/558d636590992942852564880052155b/85256a220056c2a485256c76004c7d44 ( accessed 2004 Dec 13 ) . 7. Berkowitz P. Spinning off research: AUCC sets new tool to mensurate universities’ commercialisation public presentation. Univ Aff [ consecutive online ] 2004 ; June/July. Available: World Wide Web. universityaffairs. ca/issues/2004/junejuly/print/spinningoff. hypertext markup language ( accessed 2004 Dec 13 ) . 8. Kennedy D. Enveloping the research parks [ editorial ] . Science2001 ; 294:2249. [ PubMed ] 9. Welch P. Cass CE. Guyatt G. Jackson AC. Smith D. Defending medical specialty: clinical module and academic freedom. Report of the Canadian Association of University Teachers ( CAUT ) Task Force on Academic Freedom for Faculty at University-Affiliated Health Care Institutions. Ottawa: Canadian Association of University Teachers ; 2004 Nov. Available: World Wide Web. caut. ca/en/issues/academicfreedom/DefendingMedicine. pdf ( accessed 2004 Dec 21 ) . 10. Salmon P. Effects of physical exercising on anxiousness. depression. and sensitiveness to emphasize: a consolidative theory. Clin Psychol Rev2001 ; 21:33-61. [ PubMed ] 11. Depression: direction of depression in primary and secondary attention. Clinical guideline 23. London ( UK ) : National Institute for Clinical Excellence ; 2004 Dec. Available: hypertext transfer protocol: //www. nice. org. uk/pdf/CG023NICEguideline. pdf ( accessed 2005 Mar 8 ) . 12. Nemets B. Stahl Z. Belmaker RH. Addition of omega-3 fatty acid


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