Friday, January 21, 2011

More on Unreimbursed Research

Costs at Public Universities

The UC Example

 Same Old Wrong Claim that the Humanities and Social Sciences Lose Money.

"We roughly have a $20-billion budget; $3 billion comes from the state. That's the English department, the Spanish department, economics -- that have difficulty generating the big outside grants. I love the humanities; I'm a creature of the humanities. But the engineering colleges are going to bring in more external research support, and that money's crucial." 

Mais non, c'est faux!  In fact, the big outside grants lose money, and are supported in part by cross-subsidies from high-enrollment fields in and out of the science and engineering fields that bring in big, important, and yet very costly grants. 

UC has officially acknowledged this. For example, the third sentence of a Regents's item in November 2010 reads, "The UC system incurs $600 million in unreimbursed indirect costs every year." 

A San Francisco Chronicle report on the original UCOF discussion of this issue put the figure at $720 million on $3.5 billion in research revenues, or a loss of about 20 cents on the research dollar.

The Academic Senate's indirect cost recovery report calcuates that ICR is about 25% while true indirect costs "appear to be in the 65-70% range" (p 5). 

Mark Yudof's repeated misstatement on this has at least two bad outcomes:

(1) it undoes emerging public awareness of why education is so expensive;

(2) it undoes emerging awareness among scientists that they are not huge profit centers for the university. 

Science research should have more funding, not less (as should the social sciences, arts, and humanities, which are pitiful also-rans).

But research should be fully funded and thus not damage the finances of struggling public universities.

If Mark Yudof can't be clear about this, how can we find any of the $500 million in internal savings we will need six months from now?

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