26 Jul 2016

Perspective: Taking the long view: universities and their unique research role

Associate Professor Michael Biercuk writes in his Conversation article on the goal and function of universities to undertake research for long term public good:

Businesses today are, by and large, focused on the short-term, and therefore are largely unable to consider investing in projects that might take a decade or more to realise a commercial outcome. They exist to generate profits for their leaders and shareholders, which requires constant revenue and profit growth today.

Universities, by contrast, exist only to engage in the generation and dissemination of knowledge. Relating to research, successful university programs therefore bring three main differentiating value propositions:
  • the ability to work on problems for the public good, with little or no commercial gain, but potentially large social value
  • consideration of problems that might be of great commercial value in the long-term, but require dedicated research on timescales that are unacceptable to commercial entities
  • investment in critical capital-intensive infrastructure needed especially for technical fields. "

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