One main factor, which has influenced changes in university funding, is the intrusion of political and financial interest groups in academic welfare. Although this could seem to be of many benefits at first glance, a closer look into the manner in which this is done demonstrates considerable harm in universities and colleges across the world. A more serious and ever increasing problem is the biased situation in which the social-economic-political influence of the intruders affects the humanity subjects in favor sciences and engineering.
Historical analysis of the functioning of the universities and academic funding indicate that, this had not been the case in the era before the World War II. Zuckerman and Ehrenberg observed that although the funding of humanities was never abundant, it has never been as scarce as it is currently. The last twenty years demonstrate the decrease in funding for humanities (Zuckerman and Ehrenberg). This is unfortunate because as much as the scientific research help in advancing the national scientific developments, academic humanities help in solving the national social-economic problems.
There are several excuses given in defense of the current change of events in higher learning institutions. One of them is the current rise of finances in undertaking a scientific research. The other reason is the shift of the lion’s share of academic funding to the universities and colleges leaving them with an option of outsourcing funds from other sources. However, the fundamental of these changes lies in; the less debated money making interest of certain characters in different areas. The main culprit is the corporate market which has noticed the weakness of governments and academic institutions in matters grants and funding for higher education. Nevertheless, this cannot be solely blamed on the marketing corporate. In his article, which bears part of its title as university wars, McMurtry clearly demonstrated the struggle between three dominant groups, which actively deny humanities the sufficient funding (McMurtry).
Of course, there is the commercial corporate in the middle of the three players which include the head of the academic institutions and government. The corporate institutions act according to the economic changes, technological advances and community lifestyle changes. This means, as the community places its emphasis in certain activities, the corporate markets take advantage of tapping into the learning institutions for research in that particular field. For instance, due to the increasing complex situation of health related issues; partly due to social-economic lifestyles, the society is much interested on health matters. This development is especially rampant in America and Canada where medical faculties dealing with mental illnesses like depression and stress, receive considerable funding. The patented researchers are as well highly regarded as they work for the interest of these corporate pretend to handle in favor of education and society.
In this development, the faculties notice the economic advantages that come along the partnerships with corporate markets and embrace the culture of commercialization of university research. This sets unfortunate scenario where the universities have turned a blind eye to this relationship which is destroying the culture and the essence of research institutions. The researchers have lost their freedom of researching according to their quest for knowledge and new ideas. The emphasis is now on short-term gains from the commercial institutions. It is unfortunate that the government, which should be defending universities and researchers from incorrect activities by commercial organizations, are actually supporting it. A good example is the support given to mathematics and science oriented subject by the Obama administration in April 2009. The president showed his strong support for the so called STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, mathematics. The government not only promised to devote its resources and support in STEM but also immediately injected 5 billion dollars in the project (Johnson). Such move not only grant coverage to many marketing corporate which reaches out to the science faculties, but also shows the governmental influence university institutional culture.
Robert Jonson, with his article balancing acts, condemns this activity of failing to give humanities the attention and funding they deserve. He finds the biased manner in which the funding is done in various sciences related institutions and research projects uncalled for. He lengthily discusses the question of ethics, which he refers to as “looking into the future”. As far as matters to do with future are concerned, there should be involvement of humanity subjects like Philosophy, History and Social Sciences (Johnson). It is irresponsible to leave out these disciplines which contribute considerably in the community development and cater for future improvements. It is no doubt that scientific research projects have become quite expensive. However, funding science related faculties in the expense of humanities based research projects is inappropriate.
The effects of biased funding not only affect the functioning of the universities and colleges but also the social-economic values in the community. With his article whose title partly reads Universities, governments and industry, Young argues about the pressure of commercialization in universities. He contends that the nature of universities has changed from the notion of acquiring knowledge and new ideas for the societal benefit “engines of short-term economic gains” for governments and industries (Young). The psychological and neuroscience departments are a good example. Research priorities are given to the pharmaceutical industries which experience high demands of antidepressant drugs than to emphasis on psychotherapy and well-being of the patients. The society, which should benefit from research from higher institutions, also suffers a significant deal (Forest and Phillip). This is because, the traditional concepts where university research projects we geared towards the well-fare of the society has now shifted towards the commercial gains. It is understandable that most of the manufactured drugs are unaffordable to a vast majority especially in the developing nations.
In humanities, the trend is also not different. For instance, humanity faculties that are in a position to garner greater income receive more funds from some corporate and governmental institutions. This includes the faculties which deal with museums and cultural heritage, which earn the nation some considerable revenues. However, the funds and patents in these research fields are still minimal in comparison to science subjects that give more direct financial benefits to the interest groups (Forest and Phillip)
In conclusion, the intrusion of the government and market corporate in university undertakings do more harm than good. The biased funding of a research study violates the academic freedom and denies the society the full benefits from the learning institutions. In addition, the critical role played by the humanities in developing culture and social values should not be undermined. If given equal attention and funding, humanities can even help in solving some of the economic matters confronting the world today. However, there should be more studies on the best and most balanced ways of funding university projects without affecting their functioning.
Forest, James J. F., and Philip G. Altbach. International handbook of higher education.
Dordrecht: Springer, 2011. Print.
Harriet Zuckerman & Ronald G. Ehrenberg. Recent trends in funding for the academic
humanities & their implications. (2009)
Johnson, Robert R.. A Case for Confronting the Tyranny of STEM. Michigan Technological
McMurtry, John: University wars: The corporate administration vs. the vocation of learning.
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Jul/Aug 2009.
Young, Simon. Universities, governments and industry: Can the essential nature of
universities survive the drive to commercialize? Journal of psychiatry & neuroscience:
JPN 2005 Apr; 30(3)