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Rethinking the Future of the University

 | 
David Lyle Jeffrey
, 
Dominic Manganiello

Part III. Where are we going?

The future of research

Roger Miller

Texte intégral

INTRODUCTION

1Active participants in university value the ideals of autonomy, independent research and the advancement of knowledge. Universities are portrayed by many as adhocracies in which professors pursue their own research individually. Over the years, however, broader social roles and expectations of performance have been emphasized for universities. As a result of perceived demands concerning the contribution that universities can make to economic and social development, funders of universities have sought expansion, leading them to expand their mission from education and research to becoming an agent of progress generally.

2In the face of the rising costs of university education, growing pressures for wider access and the need to use science for economic progress, governments have developed university systems that are publicly financed while tuition fees and private contributions finance a relatively small share of total costs. Returns on private and public investments in education and research, especially at the university level, are deemed to be very high and have served as a rationale for allocating substantial levels of public funding to postsecondary education and quasi state takeovers.

3Harnessing the research capabilities of universities to enhance competitiveness abroad and rejuvenate the economy has also become a central political issue. Competition on a global scale makes the vitality of university education and research a key element of industrial strategies. Universities face the dual challenge of maintaining a firm commitment to humanistic values and traditions while responding to new demands for greater involvement in technological and economic development. Universities, whether professors like it or not, will face increasingly complex and demanding challenges: difficult choices will have to be made.

ROLES AND MISSIONS OF UNIVERSITIES: HETEROGENEITY VERSUS HOMOGENEITY

4Universities started in the Middle Ages as centres of liberal and professional learning. In Europe, many such institutions were set up by princes with charters from Rome and support staff from religious orders. The teaching role of universities has however undergone transformations and now includes research and social action. Let us first try to understand these three missions of universities.

THE EDUCATIONAL MISSION

  • 1 Cardinal Newman’s The Idea of a University (1852), a much-reprinted work, is universally recognize (...)

5A central role of the university is the transmission of knowledge and the training of minds.1 The heritage of humanity has been handed down to successive generations through university education in the liberal arts, philosophy and the social sciences. Professional training was provided in such areas as law, medicine and the natural sciences. Over the years, new disciplines were added in the fields of health sciences, teaching, engineering, management and so on.

6The educative function of the university has been characterized by increasing specialization and differentiation of the programs offered, in response to the evolution of scientific knowledge, the professional specialization of the workplace and the market demands of rising student enrolments. While the educational function is performed mainly at the undergraduate level, the graduate level—where enrolments are much lower—is also an integral part of the basic mission of a university system.

7In their teaching role, universities have become increasingly market-oriented but still remain inefficient training centres. Compared to pilot training centres, universities are backward, inefficient and old-fashioned. The idea of educating minds in the knowledge needed for a fulfilling life has been abandoned in favor of either mass technical or ideology-based social science training. The pursuit of philosophical knowledge, deliberation in search of truth and development of critical abilities are gone except in a few elite institutions.

THE RESEARCH MISSION

  • 2 The idea of the research-oriented university focusing primarily on graduate studies was first deve (...)

8A second role of the university is to engage in basic research activities that promote the systematic advancement of knowledge. This model of the university as the locus of pure research was adopted during the nineteenth century by the leading institutions of higher learning in the western world.2 The penetration of this view has substantially modified educational institutions into research-oriented universities.

9This vision of the university was so widely accepted that today virtually every professor, even at the undergraduate level, is expected to carry on some research activities, if only to keep abreast of developments in his field. This is even more true at the graduate level, where the research and educational missions are closely integrated. Departments organized around disciplines, scientific publications and research for training graduate students are fundamental elements of this approach.

10Though basic research activities are also performed in industrial and governmental laboratories, the relative superiority of the university setting for the pursuit of scientific knowledge is recognized. Indeed, in most advanced countries, a major proportion of basic research is carried out in universities. To improve their ability to carry out research, universities have often superimposed advanced research programs and mission-oriented centres on top of department structures. The increase of knowledge about the laws of nature and a better understanding of the physical world have led to many inventions and innovations.

11By fulfilling their research functions, universities contribute indirectly, and sometimes directly, to economic progress. Advances in biology, physics, chemistry and information theory have led to the emergence of new industrial sectors. For example, the recent development of biotechnology as a commercial activity is the result of publicly funded basic research conducted mainly in universities over the past three decades.

THE DEVELOPMENT MISSION

  • 3 The notion of universities as agents of progress began in the social sciences, but it has also spr (...)

12A third growing role of the university—one that is compatible with, and complementary to, the first two functions—is that of an active agent of economic and social progress. Through the diffusion of knowledge to other institutions, universities play a significant role in transforming governments and firms involved in the production of goods and services.3

13In many countries, technical universities oriented toward industrial applications and management have been established to perform the diffusion role. Canada, however, has few technical universities of this kind. As a result, the need to diffuse basic research and technology is placing added demands on traditional universities.

14The role of universities as catalysts in the diffusion of state-of-the-art knowledge and technology, as well as the effectiveness with which they play that role, are issues forming the core of public debates concerning the financing of postsecondary education. Diffusion can take place through consulting activities, systematic exchanges and the conduct of applications-oriented research.

15Performance of the diffusion mission depends, to a large extent, on how well universities perform the first two roles. In other words, if the education and research functions are well developed, then they will provide a solid base from which universities can disseminate scientific and technical knowledge to the rest of society. The extent to which they are successful in fulfilling this role also depends on the structure and dynamics of the industries with which they interface.

16The view that universities should act as agents of progress is not a universal one. Maintaining the education and research functions is seen by some as the absolute priority of any university system. According to this argument, universities already contribute to economic development by indirect means, such as the training of students and researchers, and by basic research leading to the advancement of knowledge. The transfer of scientific and technological knowledge, it is argued, would best be left to mechanisms that fall outside the core functions of the university.

17By contrast, the proponents of the university as an agent of change through the diffusion of best-practice knowledge and technology point out that universities not only should maintain good relations with industry but that they should also make cultural changes of their own in order to become effective partners of industry and government in their joint social and economic mission. Numerous examples of close relationships between universities with the agricultural sector, in the medical field and with the pharmaceutical industry show that many universities have been actively involved in diffusion activities with both considerable success and legitimacy.

RESEARCH IN CANADIAN UNIVERSITIES

18Analysts have demonstrated that strong links exist between education, the advancement of knowledge and economic growth. Education and research expenditures contributed substantially to national productivity gains in industrialized countries. Social and natural sciences are major contributors to economic progress through inventions, innovations and creative adaptations that enhance the productivity and the competitiveness of industries.

19The major funders of R&D activities in Canada are the corporate sector and the federal government, while the major performers are business firms, universities and government laboratories. Universities perform about 23 percent of national R&D activities (in dollar terms). Total R&D expenditures in Canada as a proportion of GDP are approximately 1.3 percent. Canada’s ratio has historically been low relative to that of other countries.

Table 1. Total Domestic Expenditure on R&D by Funders and Performers, 1986

Table 1. Total Domestic Expenditure on R&D by Funders and Performers, 1986

Source: Statistics Canada, 1995

20Universities play a significant role in national R&D systems. As performers of R&D, universities are second to the business sector and just ahead of most government laboratories. This is an important statistic given the relative decline of most government laboratories (with the exception of those in natural science engineering). University R&D activities are funded mostly by governments, either directly through granting agencies or indirectly through fiscal transfers. The private sector financed approximately 13 percent of university R&D, with business firms contributing slightly over three percent.

THE RESEARCH CAPABILITY OF CANADIAN UNIVERSITIES

21The research capability of a university is determined by its staff. The number of professors is determined by the teaching needs of these institutions, which in turn are affected by the levels of student enrolment. Following a period of rapid growth in faculty recruitment in the 1960s and 1970s resulting from rising student enrolments, the hiring of academic staff with doctorates has substantially dropped if not stopped in recent years. As a consequence, the research faculty of universities is aging rapidly. The foreseeable negative impact of this factor on the future quality of both research and education is not to be underestimated.

22The recruitment of a substantial number of young faculty members is needed to enhance the quality, adaptability and development of the research activities of the universities. The ability to recruit recent Ph.D. graduates plays a critical role in helping universities adapt to recent developments and enter new fields of research.

MAINTENANCE OF THE RESEARCH BASE OF UNIVERSITIES

23The ethos of the academic profession is that each faculty member should be engaged in both education and research activities. In reality, the number of applications for research grants by faculty members varies between disciplines and not all professors apply. Overall, only one-fourth of professors in Canada apply to granting councils, while in the medical field almost all faculty members apply for research grants.

24Research grants funded by the NSERC, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) under the peer review system are small; the average NSERC grant is about $28,000—an amount that is inadequate for the establishment of a research capability enabling the recipient to remain reasonably up-to-date. Research funds made available by granting agencies are thus aimed primarily at maintaining the science base of universities; they contribute little toward the establishment of significant new research capabilities.

25The peer review process ensures that the funds are allocated competitively, on the basis of individual merits. Such arrangements have resulted in a reasonable distribution with some concentration in major universities. Individual grants range from a few thousand dollars to more than $150,000, depending on the productivity and quality of the research performed by the individual applicant.

THE UNDERFUNDING OF VENTURESOME RESEARCH

26Few universities in Canada reach a level of research intensity found in leading universities in the United States. To achieve excellence in research, it is necessary not only to invest large sums of money in emerging scientific fields but also to establish research groups whose size and funding levels compare with those in competing universities abroad.

27Because of inadequate funding levels, professors and groups at the forefront of their disciplines in Canadian universities find it difficult to undertake venturesome and leading-edge research projects. Success is likely to be achieved late, only after leading research universities have established themselves as pre-eminent in new scientific trajectories. Very few large groups of scientists thrive in Canadian universities.

Table 2. Top 10 University Recipients of NSERC Funding, 1995

University

Scholarships Granted

Toronto
British Columbia
McGill
Montreal*
McMaster
Waterloo
Quebec
Guelph
Western
Calgary

$42,294,000
$38,206,000
$27,906,000
$27,338,000
$27,030,000
$22,293,000
$18,195,000
$18,181,000
$13,070,000
$13,010,000

Total Funding to All Canadian Universities

$247,523,000

Source: NSERG, 1995
* Does not include École Polytechnique or Hautes Études Commerciales.

28Venturesome research in Canadian universities is underfunded. The granting agencies need resources to promote venturesome research efforts on a scale that will enable Canadian research groups to compete favorably with whose in leading research universities in the world.

THE FINANCING OF RESEARCH IN UNIVERSITIES

29The financing of the direct costs of research in universities is largely a federal government undertaking, although some provincial governments are also involved. A number of issues are pertinent here: What level and what rate of growth of funding should be allocated on a national basis for research by the federal government? How should indirect costs be handled? How should the funds be allocated between basic and targeted research? To what extent should universities and government laboratories be involved in research? Let us address these issues briefly.

The level and growth of funding

30 What priority should governments in Canada give to research, both to research generally and to research that is done in universities? Expenditures on government-funded research must grow more rapidly than GNP if knowledge is to become a strategic lever in Canada’s development. Since university research usually has a long-term horizon, the public sector, rather than the private sector, will inevitably be the prime source of funding.

  • 4 Edwin Mansfield et al., Technology Transfer, Productivity, and Economic Policy (New York: Norton, (...)

31 The rationale for government investment in R&D is essentially that the output of such activities is a “public good” and that the expected social rate of return is high enough to justify them even though they might not be profitable from a strictly private point of view. Economists have devised various methods for measuring the “social returns” on R&D investment. They have found not only that such returns are very high but that they are significantly higher than the “private returns” to the investing firms. According to Edwin Mansfield et al., the medians are 56 percent per year for the social returns and 25 percent per year for the private returns.4

32The funding of basic research is often motivated by the desire to explore scientific issues systematically in the search of new knowledge with the certainty that social benefits arise from basic research. From the point of view of society, therefore, it is proper for government to finance these high-risk activities because they result in the production of “public goods” that are good in and of themselves and contribute to economic growth.

33The bulk of direct federal funding for university research is channelled through the three federal granting councils. Each council is an arm’s-length agency governed by an act of Parliament. The capacity of universities to train qualified individuals and to produce and disseminate new knowledge is fundamental to the future of the country. Thus, the granting councils need the means to take action on several fronts: i) greater support should be available for individuals or groups at the forefront of their disciplines; ii) adequate funding for equipment and facilities is a prerequisite for a stimulating research and research-training environment; iii) funds should be available for targeted research in areas of national interest.

The funding of indirect costs

34The federal government and some provincial governments fund the bulk of the direct costs associated with research projects in universities. Private businesses and non-profit organizations account for three percent and eight percent respectively of total university R&D funding.

35Indirect costs—which include the salaries, equipment and services paid for by universities in the course of fulfilling their educational and research functions—are assumed to be paid through general grants from the provinces to universities. Universities find it increasingly difficult to carry the overhead costs of research performed under grants.

36The lack of an overhead provision has the effect of providing an implicit subsidy to universities that conduct little research while penalizing those that have extensive research programs.

Basic vs. targeted research

37What purpose does research serve? Is it the development of new knowledge or is it the practical application of scientific discoveries? Does basic science precede and nourish technology, or is it the other way around? More specifically, is an emphasis on fundamental science a prerequisite for the development of a technologically sophisticated and successful economy? These questions highlight the need to address the issue of the appropriate balance between basic research and technology development that must be struck in funding policy.

38The answer varies by country. The U.S. government appears to have concluded that basic science is the best route to technological superiority. In the United Kingdom and West Germany, however, targeted policies are preferred. Until recently, Japan seemed to follow the same route, but recent policy statements suggest that the Japanese government is now giving priority to national capacity in basic science.

39Compared with large economies such as the United States and Japan, it seems likely that basic research activities in Canada aimed at the development of new scientific fields might entail lower social rates of return than would investments in education, training and the diffusion of best-practice technology. Given the international flow of communications and ideas, it is difficult for a relatively small country, such as Canada, to retain “first-mover” advantages or even to maintain a leadership position once scientific breakthroughs have been achieved. A cost/benefit analysis of the social returns on investments in basic research and emerging scientific technologies might thus suggest that a deliberate “followership” attitude in most disciplines would be appropriate.

40However, a closer look at the scientific process leads to a less severe conclusion. Basic research is an essential component of any program aimed at developing generic technologies. Investment in basic R&D is often a prerequisite for the importation and application of foreign technology. Furthermore, the international scientific community thrives on the exchange of information and membership in that community depends on the contribution that one makes to it.

41Reviewing the evidence, it is hard to escape the conclusion that general strength in education and research is a prerequisite for vitality in knowledge-based industries. A further critical element is the existence of a system of scientific and engineering education that trains a significant proportion of graduates in industrial careers. These goals can only be achieved if numerous universities operate at the leading edge of research in a variety of disciplines.

A shift in the locus of research: from public laboratories to universities

42Some argue that government laboratories are required because they serve a wide array of public needs, because social rates of return exceed private rates of return and because the risks and expenses involved are too high for industry. These arguments are often beside the point because they pertain to the proper role of government in the funding of research, not necessarily to the locus of the research activities. These arguments confuse the objectives with the instruments.

43As a basic policy position, governments should increasingly rely on universities or joint industry-government-university partnerships to provide the broad base of national competence in scientific research. The science capability of universities has grown substantially in recent years, and university activities in basic research are best suited to the shifting dynamics of scientific progress. Research projects can be reoriented quickly, and high-level graduate students can be involved. The increased level of research activities would have a beneficial impact on the quality of research performed in universities. In turn, quality research leads to quality teaching and attracts the best students. Universities are increasingly called upon to co-operate with industry in the conduct of applied research. Public laboratories do not have to submit to the discipline of the peer review or to other control mechanisms that are accepted facts of life in universities.

THE RESEARCH PERFORMANCE OF CANADIAN UNIVERSITIES

44The results of surveys of various groups suggest that the quality of research in Canadian universities is good. The number of research papers published worldwide is a good indicator of the relative performance of Canadian universities. Canadian scientists authored or coauthored about four percent of the world’s scientific papers. However, the stagnation of research publications over the past 15 years is indicative of problems in Canada’s universities.

45Despite the underfunding that characterizes the present situation, a broad base of university research has been developed over the years. In many respects, Canadian universities fare favorably in comparisons with those in other advanced industrialized countries. Measuring the output of university research is a formidable task. Nonetheless, a monitoring system can be developed by using indicators such as publications, citations, scientific events and patents. Scientometrics is a good case in point.

UNIVERSITIES AS AGENTS OF CHANGE: DIFFUSION OF KNOWLEDGE AND TECHNOLOGY

46Diffusion activities make available to industry and government some of the best scientific and technical practices of the day. High hopes are attached to the success of technology transfer from universities. While universities can indeed play a role in the transmission of scientific and technical knowledge to other sectors of society, it would be unwise to overestimate the potential of applied research undertaken on their own.

47As a rule, universities are not very good at playing entrepreneurial roles. Nonetheless, their participation in joint university-industry projects can certainly be beneficial. Joint efforts, even though they will always represent only a small fraction of R&D funding in universities, can still help them keep in touch with market expectations and pertinent research fields. In the final analysis, however, the comparative advantage of universities lies in the training of scientists and engineers and in long-term basic research.

DIFFUSION TO HELP REDUCE LAG IN THE ADOPTION OF TECHNOLOGY

48The diffusion of technology in Canada is lagging in three respects. First, in some Canadian industries, new technology is often adopted later than in the corresponding industries of other nations. Second, within Canada itself, there are interregional time lags in the diffusion of innovations. Third, because of inadequate training, managers and workers often resist new technologies or adopt them without being able to exploit them to the fullest.

49What are the causes of this lag? Among the possible explanations is the fact that the introduction of innovations is often leading to low profitability because of the small size of the domestic market. Yet, NAFTA has changed this! Other factors, such as the level of R&D activities, foreign ownership and industry structure, may also explain the adoption and diffusion lag. Investment in R&D activities, which reflects the degree to which firms are committed to the pursuit of technological opportunities, tends to be low in many industries in Canada. Finally, managerial attitudes and a lack of appreciation for the potential of technology have been proposed as factors explaining the low rates of innovation diffusion in this country.

50Universities play distinct roles in reducing this lag. An increasing share of R&D activities in Canada is financed and performed by the private sector. Not surprisingly, this growing interest has been accompanied by an increase in university-industry collaborations. The corporate sector’s contribution to university research in the form of grants and contracts totalled about 3.5 percent of total R&D funding in Canadian universities. The corresponding figure for the United States is four percent. The volume of research contracted to universities by the private sector has risen substantially over the past several years.

UNIVERSITY-INDUSTRY COLLABORATION

51Universities have an impact on technology diffusion, and thereby contribute to national and regional competitiveness through various mechanisms such as consulting and clinical activities, contract research, joint ventures with business firms and participation in consortia aimed at solving generic industrial problems.

52Consulting activities of a clinical nature are not only an effective means for transferring technological knowledge to large and small businesses, but they also help faculty members. The association of universities with emerging industries fosters entrepreneurial attitudes among students and encourages consulting activities within the faculty. At present, however, very little information is available on the actual extent of consulting activities in Canadian universities.

53 Contract research and grant activities by industrial firms represent about 3.2 percent of total university R&D funding, while non-profit organizations account for approximately 9.5 percent. The contribution of the latter to the funding of actual research is about half that amount, however, as funds are often earmarked for such purposes as buildings, indirect costs and overhead. Non-profit organizations allocated most of their university R&D funds to projects in the health field.

54Several universities in Canada have established interface institutes that offer research, development and education services. Some are confined to a single university and several corporations, while others involve an entire industry and one or several universities. The Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Canada (PAPRICAN), for instance, is a consortium linking universities and various Canadian pulp and paper firms. Joint ventures between universities and industrial firms are even more numerous. Most such arrangements are oriented toward research and technology transfer.

DIFFICULTIES IN DEVELOPING INDUSTRY-UNIVERSITY COLLABORATION

55The level of interaction between universities and industry in Canada is increasing but is still low. Does the absence of linkages explain this relative lack of ties between industry and the universities or is cultural mismatch the main cause? Conflicts are of two kinds:

  • General conflicts of values and goals, which arise when some of the major functions of the university (the advancement of fundamental science or the objectivity of scientific enquiry, for example) are felt to be jeopardized as a result of industrial involvement.
  • Institutional or organizational conflicts, which involve the norms and standards of the academic system. When these standards are ignored or challenged, the purpose of universities is undermined.

56Value differences and conflicts are more apparent than real. The bottom line is that both the university researchers and the industrial corporations involved benefit from these joint efforts. Our brief survey of joint university-industry efforts indicated that substantial results have been achieved. However, a number of stumbling blocks could prevent the further development of such collaboration.

57By encouraging the development of consortia, institutes and joint ventures, joint funding helps universities to be in closer contact with market dynamics. Universities are not good at setting priorities for applications-oriented research. Given the limited amount of funds available, the resources committed to university research for applied work should not be allocated in an unfocused manner. One of the benefits of a matching-funding policy is that it will result in the reorientation of a small but significant portion of academic research in a direction that is more closely attuned to Canada’s needs and comparative advantages, while avoiding the pitfalls usually associated with centralized decision making in that area.

DIFFICULTIES IN APPROPRIATING BENEFIT INNOVATION

58It is often assumed that the bulk of high-technology companies are started by university professors or around universities; that assumption does not bear careful scrutiny. Surveys of start-ups in high-technology clusters in the United States, Canada and Britain suggest that a very small proportion of these are linked directly to university professors. Most high-technology firms are started, in fact, by graduates who discover opportunities while working for “incubator” organizations such as high-growth companies, corporate development laboratories or contract research institutes. The major contribution of universities in this respect is that they trained engineers and scientists who later became entrepreneurs.

59In the early years of science-based industries, university professors are indeed actively associated with the birth of science-based companies. Such start-up companies usually focus on areas that are in the early stages of active development and that are changing rapidly as a result of discoveries in basic and applied research. Current examples are found in biotechnology and biomedical instrumentation. Similar developments occurred in the area of microelectronics in the 1950s and in computer-assisted design and manufacturing in the 1960s. Basic and clinical research activities are offering opportunities that are visible to university professors and researchers at the leading edge of their disciplines.

60Adopting a liberal attitude toward the creation of a climate of entrepreneurship, the market value of research universities is promoted by many scholars. Encouraging the development of links between the faculty and corporate and government clients makes the transfer of state-of-the-art techniques easier. Vesting the ownership of intellectual property with the university professor who conducts the work builds incentive to exploit this know-how commercially. In return, should ventures be profitable, the university would expect contributions or donations from the professors. Recognizing the fact that it is legitimate for university professors to hold equity and management positions encourages the transfer of technology resulting from university research.

61By contrast, many Canadian universities take an institutional approach, insist on university ownership of patent rights and attempt to structure faculty involvement in start-up businesses. Formal mechanisms, such as industry liaison offices and patenting offices, have been established in a number of cases. A major problem with the exploitation of patents or technologies resulting from university research is that venture funds are needed to transform ideas or patents into products.

62Many universities have attempted to resolve this problem by controlling and fostering the development of patents through such means as i) licensing the technology to corporations able to fund the required development work; ii) gathering funds from government and commercial sources to finance the required design and engineering work; and iii) developing joint agreements with commercial or venture-capital firms to bring about the exploitation of the patents and the engineering concepts.

63A liberal policy toward the commercial exploitation of university-based R&D including the vesting of patent rights with university researchers is more appropriate to the Canadian situation than more formally structured approaches. It may create envy but it is at least more likely to be effective.

THE NEED FOR HETEROGENEITY

64Each university needs not give equal weight to each of the three roles to which we have alluded. It would be unrealistic to expect every institution to reflect the needed diversity. Similarly, not every discipline or applied field should combine the three functions and faculty members need not be equally involved in all three roles.

65Some institutions focus primarily on the educational role and foster research activities in support of high-quality undergraduate programs and graduate professional training. A limited number of universities stress the importance of basic research activities beyond the requirements of the educational function and aim at contributing to a significant advancement of knowledge. A few others combine the education and research functions in the pursuit of knowledge and diffuse best-practice technologies to business and public organizations.

66A few institutions attempt to combine all three roles and develop close links with government and industry. Funding and support for both basic and applications-oriented research are secured through grants from public agencies and through private contracting arrangements. They do so by supplementing their academic departments with problem-oriented, applied-research centres, and by developing multiple-career paths that combine teaching with basic research activities.

FACTORS LIMITING DIVERSITY

67The Canadian university system is perceived by many as forming a group of homogeneous institutions. A number of factors have tended to restrict diversity in the university system. First, there are no private universities of any stature in Canada. The aversion toward private institutions has led to most religious colleges and universities being converted into quasi-public institutions. Second, easy entry standards and strong government control over the financing impedes the development of mission-oriented institutions. Third, few universities specialize in undergraduate and liberal arts programs, but most institutions offer specialized programs at the graduate level ; approximately half of them provide some form of doctoral program.

THE INFLUENCE OF THE CONTEXT ON THE GROWTH OF UNIVERSITIES

68The Canadian context has been detrimental to private, denominational and liberal arts universities. Large private fortunes were not generous, religious orders did not have faith in their own initiatives and there was a large lobby in favor of state intervention. The greater the government funding, the more universities respond to market needs by developing training programs that are more vocational in orientation and less focused on what a well-educated person should know. Canadian universities have been turned into part of the economic machine. Of course, some are better than others, but public funding drives many aspects of the educative, research or diffusion mission.

69Collège Ste-Croix and Collège Notre-Dame were both founded by French-Canadian priests in the early 1800s. One has become a low-class junior college and the other a world-class university. Collège Ste-Marie and Sophia University were both founded by Jesuits; one has disappeared, the other is among the most prestigious universities in Japan.

THE NEED TO DIFFERENTIATE INSTITUTIONS WITH SPECIFIC MISSIONS

70In spite of pressures toward homogeneity, the bulk of university research activities in Canada, whether autonomous or mission-oriented, is conducted in only a few institutions. For example, the top 15 recipients of federal R&D grants account for close to 80 percent of all research grants provided by the federal government to universities.

71An even greater concentration has emerged in the United States. Data compiled by the National Science Foundation suggest that a three-tier pattern is found among postsecondary institutions in the United States. The first tier is composed of two-or four-year colleges that are primarily teaching institutions and perform little or no externally funded research. The second tier is made up of roughly 300 colleges and universities where research activities conform to the traditional picture of basic research performed mostly by faculty members and by small groups of researchers. Research in these institutions is intimately linked to graduate education. The third tier comprises 200 research-oriented institutions that solicit both individual research grants and larger mission-oriented grants. These institutions account for more than four-fifths of all academic research and funding in the United States.

CONCLUSION

72The demands made on the Canadian university system by students, industry and government are high and likely to increase. Much is expected from universities with respect to the diffusion of knowledge, research and education. The strategy of relying more on universities for collaborative research with industry needs to be associated with measures to increase the number of qualified researchers in universities. In brief, the relationships between the three roles of universities must be considered explicitly and dealt with in a balanced manner. Much will be gained by letting natural forces contribute to the emergence of a more heterogeneous university network.

Notes

1 Cardinal Newman’s The Idea of a University (1852), a much-reprinted work, is universally recognized as being a seminal contribution to the modern conception of the educational role of universities, especially with respect to the training of the mind.

2 The idea of the research-oriented university focusing primarily on graduate studies was first developed in Germany, but it spread rapidly to the rest of Europe and to North America and Japan. See Karl Jaspers et al., Die Idee der Universitat (Berlin: Springer, 1961).

3 The notion of universities as agents of progress began in the social sciences, but it has also spread to the natural sciences over the past half-century. See Alfred North Whitehead, The Aims of Education (London: Williams and Norgate, 1929), and Clark Kerr, The Uses of the University (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1963).

4 Edwin Mansfield et al., Technology Transfer, Productivity, and Economic Policy (New York: Norton, 1983), 189. See the relevant chapter titled “Federal Support of R&D Activities in the Private Sector,” 173-207.

Table des illustrations

Titre Table 1. Total Domestic Expenditure on R&D by Funders and Performers, 1986
Légende Source: Statistics Canada, 1995
URL http://books.openedition.org/uop/docannexe/image/1778/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 123k

Auteur

Hydro-Québec/NSERC/SSHRC Professor of Technology Management at the Université du Québec à Montréal. He is author of a number of books, including Growing the Next Silicon Valley (1987) and Direction de l’entreprise (1992)

© Les Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa | University of Ottawa Press, 1998

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