Because the universe is beautiful enough without having to lie about it

More cash for science!

March 6th, 2009 Posted in Education

Woo! Finally the government does something right:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7924765.stm

Now all they need to do is to start listening to what these scientists tell them, and we’ll be fine.

I was having a discussion with some colleagues yesterday about the role public funding should play in Universities. Does it make sense for public money to go on teaching people a History of Byzantine Golf Course Management when there’s only a fixed amount of money to go around, and plenty of people who want to train as doctors, vets, engineers and other useful professions? I don’t think it’s a right for anyone to study anything they want at University for free. Nowadays, if you want to learn a subject then you can do so very easily in the comfort of your own home with a few books and the Internet. So does it make sense to be spending huge chunks of public money subsidising useless degrees which are, let’s face it, basically very long parties?

I’m not sure how much I agree with that viewpoint, though I probably lean towards it. Many won’t, of course. Universities should be teaching people to be useful in society – which means teaching them skills that will be valuable. I guess the argument simply comes to how much we, as a country, collectively value the arts. ¬†Are market forces enough to ensure that the relevant courses get prioritised and subsidised whereas the unwanted ones fall by the wayside?

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