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Scientists oppose plan to fund research according to economic value

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article6886213.ece

Hundreds of eminent scientists including Professor Richard Dawkins and six Nobel prizewinners are campaigning against plans to put an end to university research that is deemed worthless.

Research will be rated and funded according to its potential economic impact in a shake-up of university finance that the scientists say will wipe out accidental discoveries.

But the academics say that most scientific discoveries to date would not have survived the new test set in the plan, the Research Excellence Framework (REF), from the higher education funding councils.

More than 200 chemists, physists and medics say the measures will mean universities will lack the cash to fund academics to undertake the kind of “blue-sky thinking” that led to the discovery of DNA, X-rays and penicillin.

They have signed a statement to be presented to the council which says the plan to make funding conditional on the “perceived economic and social benefits” will be counterproductive.

“The REF proposals are founded on a lack of understanding of how knowledge advances. It is often difficult to predict which research will create the greatest practical impact,” they say.

“If implemented, these proposals risk undermining support for basic research across all disciplines and may well lead to an academic brain drain to countries such as the United States that continue to value fundamental research.”
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http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article6886213.ece

TAGGED: COMMENTARY, POLITICS, SCIENCE


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