Bacon’s Rebellion reader “Izzo” pointed us to a National Science Foundation database that breaks down the R&D funding sources for U.S. universities. I have extracted the numbers for Virginia’s three leading research institutions — Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia, and Virginia Commonwealth University — and converted them to pie charts. The yellow segments show the percentage of university research dollars that comes from each institution’s own resources.
In raw dollars, here’s how much money we’re talking about:
Virginia Tech — $219 million
UVa — $123 million
VCU — $52 million
While some of those institutionally originated R&D dollars may come from endowments, Izzo contends that much of it is supported by tuition revenue.
“Where does tuition money go?” he asks. “I think it is an open secret in academic circles that a lot of it goes to fund research and graduate studies. For instance, one might think all research comes from external sources, but that is certainly not the case. … For UVA, $123M of research was institutionally funded in 2015, or $5,600 per student per year. … The majority likely comes from tuition and fees, and specifically undergraduate tuition and fees. When students and families are paying tuition and going into debt to do it (and this debt is subsidized and guaranteed by the government), this is where a lot of it is going, and they don’t even know it.”
I don’t know who Izzo is, and I don’t know with what authority he (assuming Izzo is a he) speaks. But his statement that most institutional funding comes from tuition and fees, if true, warrants much closer examination. While students and their families surely would like to see state universities conduct more R&D, they might well rise in insurrection if they thought that they were personally subsidizing that R&D, without their knowledge and consent, to the tune of $5,000 a year.
I don’t know how one would go about ascertaining the level of R&D subsidy embedded in the tuition. I seriously doubt that the universities themselves know the number or have the analytical capacity to calculate it. But Izzo has raised a fundamental issue here.There are currently no comments highlighted.