Posted by: bluesyemre | December 15, 2014

Why universities don’t just need more innovation – but also more of a system for making the most of the best ideas by Geoff Mulgan

  • Universities are in the midst of an extraordinary global boom – with rapidly rising numbers of students (150m plus), a surge of investment in buildings to house them, soaring salaries for the
    leaders and feverish global competition to attract the best and the brightest. At first glance, too, universities appear to be going through a boom in innovation – with MOOCs of all kinds, from
    ITunesU and Coursera to Futurelearn, new financing models, labs and partnerships. But if you look closer you find a paradox. Universities are centres for research on many topics, and in some cases for research and development. Yet the paradox is that although universities are very good at applying the principles of R&D to other fields, there appears to be little if any systematic R&D done on the activities of universities themselves. The problem is partly that universities aren’t innovating enough; but, if anything, the even more fundamental problem is that the ways in which they innovate are often flawed: too scattergun and evidence-free. The very qualities which mark out the very best and most prestigious disciplines of the modern era are often missing when it comes to the ways in which universities think about themselves. The result is that if an academic comes up with a brilliant new method for research or teaching it can be a matter of chance as to whether the method spreads.

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