RLI 274 ( C O N T I N U E D ) 8The Future of the US Research University universities have to have significant national support. China is making major investments in its universities. I have visited some of the campuses that have received this national funding largess and am amazed how rapidly they have become substantial research universities. India is in the early stages of a similar program of massive investment. These countries are not depending on provincial government support to maintain their critical national research university needs. In only a decade the United States has fallen from the top few countries in the world in the proportion of its 25- to 34-year-old citizens with a higher education to a tie for 11th. Tertiary attainment decline is the leading edge of the problem. Competitiveness decline is the next consequence, a consequence we can avoid if a program of targeted federal investment in research universities is begun soon. Graduate education requires an infusion of federal funding. No state will ever utilize all the Ph.D. classicists or geologists that a single program at a single large research university can produce. States doing the calculus that compares state benefit to state cost on a program-by-program basis are likely to cease funding graduate programs that are critical to the health of the research university ecology. Only federal funding is likely to ensure adequate production of such specialists. A general federal subsidy may be required to help research universities emerge from the funding trough into which they have fallen, not just in the last two years but in the last twenty-two years. Facilities have deteriorated, equipment is out of date, and most operations are understaffed. Research universities have gone far past economizing and are into cannibalism. Reversing this trend will take time and money. Clearly, equity demands that the federal government quit skimping on facilities and administration cost reimbursements. The federal government must assume the full cost of federally funded research and cease relying on universities to subsidize that research. I do not believe that research universities are in immediate danger, but danger lies ahead if we do not heed the ample warning signals. The universities themselves understand the danger and are experimenting with methods of instruction that may improve student learning outcomes at reduced cost and are otherwise streamlining operations as they cut budgets. Research universities are weakened now but have much of their core FEBRUARY 2011 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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