Does science need the university? Not so much that it won’t go looking for a better place to stay if things get ugly. If I were starting a career in the sciences today, I would pay a lot more attention to what private industry and the entrepreneurs have to offer than to the possibility of an academic post. If I were planning a line of research that is likely to take hundreds of millions of dollars and decades to consummate, I’d also think about how to find or invent an institutional setting beyond the university. It’s been done before.
This is not an eventuality I welcome. I’d rather see university science continue in something like its current form. My fear is that our nation’s shaky commitment to fundamental science on one hand and our overgrown and withal exploitative system of higher education on the other hand have created a situation that puts that historical partnership in jeopardy. All the current emphasis on STEM education in secondary schools and NSF-funded programs to encourage more Americans to major in science fields won’t repair the basic situation.
» via The Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription may be required for some content)