Friday, October 19, 2012

Profit Motive vs. Profit Imperitive

The Uni has been in transition for some time.  Courses have started to pay their way, schools are having to justify their budgets under more and more pressure. The endless tension between the "The University as Vocational Training Provider" and the "The University as a seperate world of pure quest for knowledge" points of view are still alive and well.

For me, this is no bad thing.  As I see the Vocational Training market as a very goal directed activity.  Its simply a business.  Deliver the product as efficiently as possible and go home. Cheap, push the cost onto the consumer, pay the staff a minimum wage, get accredited every so often, strip the library and the infrastructure down to the minimum. Get Focused and go hard.  The infusion of this point of view

On the other hand is the purist pursuit of knowledge through research and discovery.  (A secondary objective is training more researchers for the next generation) which has no relationship between input and outputs, no firm time frames and no clear value proposition for the community. (Every one acknowledges that value is generally created over the long term but its a bastard to put a number or a time frame upon beforehand).  The point is that the two processes are so completely seperate in funding model, return model, staffing model, mindset... everything.

Somewhere in the middle is "Commercial Research" and "Private-Public-Partnership Research"  which is complicated because its usually managed as a goal directed activity, but suffers all the uncertainty of cost/labour/time/outcome any other form of "research".

Additionally there are all the other lifestyle derived agenda's ( mooching, freedom to waste time and money.... free food, travel, going to conferences as you like, publishing anything that goes through your head, retirement with pay, having slaves to do your photocopying, being worshipped by students, allowing your ego time to grow unconstrained.... endless access to books, talking shit with other smart people, meeting and breeding with other clever people)  are desired but difficult to publicly support in these times of fiscal constraint.

I think its a game of state-the-obvious that most of the above agenda's do not fit with the "The University as Vocational Training Provider" model. 

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