It feels like the death knell of basic research.
Certainly in Science and Social Science.
If you’re in either of these disciplines have you tried recently to get funding for a PhD studentship for basic research?
ESRC have been known to bounce grant applications because “they don’t fund basic research any more”. And that was the office staff! The dreaded Impact Statement is screwing everyone.
So, you’d think University Studentships would fill the gap?
Wrong! Wrong! The money’s gone! Gone to the Business School, gone on a proposed patent, gone to business and industry involvement, gone to social policy advisement with the government, gone to “user involvement”.
I tell you, on your own heads be it, Universities. In ten years, when you need basic researchers to run your labs and train students in basic skills because business and industry need graduates with these basic skills there won’t be any academics with the expertise. We’ll be a country of applied researchers and the knowledge base will have atrophied.
The problem is that Universities are so parochial. They don’t realise that really good applied research doesn’t materialise out of nowhere. It comes from basic research. You need the basic research to identify the parameters first before applied research can take it on and field test it. Otherwise, it’s a sheep dog out in the field with torch looking for it’s flock in the dark.