The Times Higher Education site has an interesting piece highlighting the difficulties British universities are having commercializing all of the research funding they receive from their government. A new report on the subject has supported this criticism. From Elizabeth Gibney:
“British entrepreneurs are being badly let down by a lack of access to financial support and a system that often forces them to sell out to private equity investors or larger foreign companies to get ideas off the ground,” said committee chair and Labour MP, Andrew Miller.
MPs said they had been encouraged by the work of the Technology Strategy Board and its network of “catapult” centres, but said that they were concerned about the access of small firms to facilities, and that government grant funding was often highly bureaucratic to apply for and only enough to “get an idea off the ground”.
The report, Bridging the Valley of Death: Improving the Commercialisation of Research, adds that while academic research is the “jewel in the crown of UK innovation activity”, the committee had concerns about how universities interact with the commercialisation of research.
It questions whether changes to the Higher Education Innovation Fund, which reward institutions that have already benefited from successfully commercialising their intellectual property, might further decrease the success of already struggling institutions.
“We would like to see how well changes to the Higher Education Innovation Fund improve commercialisation activity; whether there is a need for greater amounts of proof of concept funding in the sector; and challenge the institutions to become more accommodating to non-traditional backgrounds among their academic staff,” it reads.
“We have concerns that driving an innovation agenda too aggressively through universities may have diminishing returns with regard to commercialisation and risk damaging the academic research that is working well,” it adds.
via MPs criticise government over research commercialisation | News | Times Higher Education.
Interesting thoughts on the role of the federal government in higher education and how this compares to K-12. Clearly, the federal government is getting more involved in higher education — from calls for higher attendance to greater accountability on completion and results. (Why should higher ed be any different from manufacturing, finance, health care, oil/mining, etc.??)
From Sandy Baum and Michael McPherson in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
As David Cohen and Susan Moffitt’s important new book, The Ordeal of Equality (Harvard University Press), shows, the federal government has persistently raised the demands it places on K-12 schools and has over time moved its declared ambitions from providing funding for schools serving disadvantaged students to improving the quality, even of “transforming,” American education. As Cohen and Moffitt argue, this increased ambition has not been accompanied by similar increases in the capacity, either at the federal or at local levels, to meet these higher demands. The result has been frustration and policy failure, answered so far by further increases in ambition and in demands on a system that is not well-equipped to respond.
So far, at least, the federal role in higher education has not followed a similar trend. The basic goals of federal spending in support of higher education have been (1) to assist needy students in paying for whatever colleges are out there and (2) purchasing the services of university researchers to undertake studies the federal government thinks are worth doing. The feds largely treat postsecondary education institutions as vendors and treat themselves as clients, or perhaps as agents providing money to clients for them to purchase services.
No Undergraduate Left Behind? – Innovations – The Chronicle of Higher Education.
We recently covered students shifting attitudes towards higher education. In that debate comes Louis Menand, professor, journalist, and author (The Metaphysical Club) of a new book on reforming higher education in America — always an fun filled exercise that leads to entrepreneurial opportunities. The Marketplace of Ideas is reviewed by Wilfred M. McClay in the Bookshelf column of the WSJ.
I must admit I have not read any of Menand’s work (that I can recall), but it says, in the review, “Louis Menand, who is both a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine and a professor of English at Harvard—and an intelligent observer of American cultural life—would seem to be well positioned to provide such a rationale and to suggest the ways in which colleges can do a better job of, well, educating.”
Er, I guess? Professor of English at Harvard who publishes best sellers and writes for the New Yorker is not that representative of higher education in America. For some he might represent the tip of the spear. That said, I am glad that he (or his editors or a focus group), choice to use the concept of the marketplace in the title as it highlights the notion of campus as marketplace that we discuss here often.
The book gets a solid review and it seems to be a worthy addition to the ever evolving calls for reforming higher education. Check out the snippet below. Continue reading
Posted in American Exceptionalism, Campus as Market, Campus Eco-System, General Thoughts
Tagged college cost, higher education funding, higher education policy, higher education reform, Louis Menand, Making College Relevant, New Yorker Magazine, public intellectual, The Markeplace of Ideas, value of college
Newmark’s Door has a great blog entry offering a compilation of criticisms of higher education in the U.S. Those quoted included professors, entrepreneurs, and . Those targetted include law schools, humanities, and computer science departments. There is something for everyone in this piece. Here are a few snippets and who they are attributed to.
Joel Spolsky (Entrepreneur):
Many universities have managed to convince themselves that the more irrelevant the curriculum is to the real world, the more elite they are. It’s the liberal arts way. Leave it to the technical vocational institutes, the red-brick universities, and the lesser schools endowed with many compass points (“University of Northern Southwest Florida”) to actually produce programmers. The Ivy Leagues of the world want to teach linear algebra and theories of computation and Haskell programming, and all the striver CS departments trying to raise their standards are doing so by eliminating anything practical from the curriculum in favor of more theory. Continue reading
Posted in Campus Eco-System, Education Policy
Tagged Craig Newmark, Education Policy, Harvard Magazine, higher education, higher education policy, Joel Spolsky, Louis Menand, Newmark's Door, Rutgers, William O'Neill
Showing they are no dummies, leaders of community colleges are pressing hard to begin offering 4 year degrees. They are taking advantage of the recession and the cost sensitivity of consumers in making this move. Moreover, Obama’s recent proposals on higher ed call for $12 billion more for community colleges. From the AP article by David N. Goodman:
Obama announced a $12 billion proposal to increase community college graduates by 5 million by 2020. Community colleges now graduate about 1 million students a year. The president said the nation’s economic future depends on building a skilled work force.
“We will not fill those jobs — or keep those jobs on our shores — without the training offered by community colleges,” Obama said.
So far, community colleges have won the right to offer four-year degrees in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Hawaii, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia, the Community College Baccalaureate Association says. Legislative efforts to extend the practice could come soon in Arizona and California, said Beth Hagan, executive director of the Fort Myers, Fla.-based group.
There is no doubt that the leaders of community colleges are acting entrepreneurially in taking advantage of changed market forces. It will be interesting to see how traditional colleges and universities respond. (btw, recent reports suggest that private school matriculation is shrinking during this recession while community college enrollment is booming!).
We have covered a lot of startups (& startups) and technologies going into the textbook market — the cost of books have been a pain for students and families for decades. Seth Godin, ‘marketing genius,’ has decided to enter the fray with his posting Textbook Rant. Godin claims professors who assign textbooks are practicing academic malpractice — he may be right! His piece covers old ground but it is concise and worth a read. Importantly, he offers advice for professors on spending their time “devising pages or chapterettes or even entire chapters on topics that matter to them, then publishing them for free online,”
Here is a snippet:
They are incredibly impractical. Not just in terms of the lessons taught, but in terms of being a reference book for years down the road.
In a world of wikipedia, where every definition is a click away, it’s foolish to give me definitions to memorize. Where is the context? When I want to teach someone marketing (and I do, all the time) I never present the information in the way a textbook does. I’ve never seen a single blog post that says, “wait until I explain what I learned from a textbook!”
Any thoughts? Especially those of you who are Professors?
Working on a ‘theoretical’ higher education policy paper related to the place of entrepreneurship education on campus?
Right now I am reading an important paper by Jerome A. Katz of Saint Louis University from the Journal of Business Venturing 18 (2003). Paper is an overview of entrepreneurship education in the US, title is: The Chronology and intellectual Trajectory of American Entrepreneurship Education 1876-1999.
Here is a snippet from the paper:
“While entrepreneurship education in American business schools ma be reaching maturity, demand in other markets is growing. Since the late 1990s, demand for entrepreneurship trade books has nearly doubled each year” (p.295)
Great article full of data from the annual Dept of Ed report on size and composition of higher education industry in the U.S. There are opportunities everywhere and clearly campus entrepreneurs are taking part. From the piece by Doug Lederman
According to the report, colleges and universities that qualify to award federal financial aid enrolled nearly 18.7 million students in fall 2007, up about 2.6 percent from 2006 and about 5.42 percent since 2004’s total of 17.7 million.
Enrollment at publicly supported institutions grew by 2.4 percent from 2006 to 2007, enrollment at private nonprofit colleges increased by 1.5 percent, and enrollment at private for-profit colleges rose by 7.22 percent. For-profit institutions have maintained that pace over a three year period, and since 2004, their share of all enrollments grew to 7.9 percent of the total college population, up from 6.7 percent.
The entire article underscores the size and scope of the higher education marketplace in the US. With Obama’s call for all Americans to spend at least a yr in college still ‘out there’ and the trends in the report, the campus continues to present opportunities for entrepreneurs of all types.
InsideHigherEd.com has a nice interview with the authors of this new book (Mission & Money: Understanding the University) on financing of higher ed. “The authors are Burton A. Weisbrod, the John Evans Professor of Economics at Northwestern University; Jeffrey P. Ballou, an economist at Mathematica Policy Research; and Evelyn D. Asch, research coordinator at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern. Weisbrod responded to questions about the new book.” Here is a short snippet of this valuable interview.
The current and worsening economic downturn has made it increasingly difficult to obtain and hold a job, and so with deteriorating job opportunities, more young people and more older workers will see their best opportunities as going to school to get additional training. This process is clear; even in the Great Depression of the 1930s there was a boom in school attendance. Today, not only will undergraduate enrollments increase but so will master’s degree programs such as M.B.A.’s, as workers conclude that now is the time, when jobs are so difficult to get and hold, to invest in added education and training.
This does not mean, however, that all colleges and universities will thrive. Students from the lowest-income families will typically be attracted to low-cost public schools — community colleges and state colleges — but with growing financial pressures on governmental budgets these are the very schools likely to be constrained in their ability to hire more teachers and find more classroom space. So, the demand for more education will increase, but the supply is problematic.
There are clear to be opportunities for campus entrepreneurs during this economic readjustment. In addition to there being a rise in demand for services (from curricular to research) there is also an economic windfall coming to some based on recent government policies. Lets keep our eyes open as the campus eco-system responds to the needs of society and the incentives provided by the government.
Posted in Campus Eco-System, Education Policy, General Thoughts, Research
Tagged adult education, Burton A. Weisbrod, Evelyn D. Asch, grad school during recession, higher education policy, inside higher education, Jeffrey P. Ballou, Mission and Money, stimulus package, the university in America
Good piece looking at higher ed industry in the context of current economic turmoil/stimulus plan and longer term economic and social trends. Highlights speeches by Arne Duncan and Lamar Alexander at the ACE meetings in Washington. Here are two longish snippets: Continue reading