By not charging corporate and government clients for the indirect costs of contract research, British universities have been effectively subsidizing the research. (The Scientist, May 30, page 5). This practice, says a recent report from the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, must stop. The report contains guidelines that would add more than $100 million to the $500 million annually that universities now charge for research. The guidelines are not mandatory, but universities are under strong pressure from the Thatcher government to follow them.
Ironically, universities may have a tough time getting government clients to pay up. Although companies polled by the U.K’s Council for Industry and Higher Education agreed that academics should charge regular commercial rates for research, council officials predict a less than enthusiastic response from government departments, particularly the Ministry of Defense.
They’ll Want His Autograph Next
It’s not often that a scientist gets fan mail...