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Published: 15 Jun 2012

At a time when federal and state politicians seem happy to cut and reluctant or unable to increase spending on higher education, a long-awaited report from the National Research Council, the policy arm of the National Academies, argues that the country cannot maintain its position as a leader in research without sustained investment in its public and private universities.

At a time when federal and state politicians seem happy to cut and reluctant or unable to increase spending on higher education, a long-awaited report from the National Research Council, the policy arm of the National Academies, argues that the country cannot maintain its position as a leader in research without sustained investment in its public and private universities.

The report, “Research Universities and the Future of America: Ten Breakthrough Actions Vital to Our Nation’s Prosperity and Security,” is the result of a call from a bipartisan group of members of Congress, who asked the Academies in 2009 to come up with 10 actions the federal government, state governments, research universities, and others could take to “maintain the excellence in research and doctoral education needed to help the United States compete, prosper, and achieve national goals for health, energy, the environment, and security in the global community of the 21st century." The report was framed as a follow-up to the Academies’ 2005 report “Rising Above the Gathering Storm,” which focused on steps the national government could take to ensure that the U.S. remained competitive in science and technology…

While the report discusses issues challenging all research universities, it expresses a clear concern for public universities. “Support for public research universities is a national challenge of immense importance, since these institutions produce the majority of advanced-degree recipients and basic research for the United States,” the report states. “Any loss of world-class quality for America’s public research institutions seriously damages national prosperity, security, and quality of life.”

[McGill Principal Heather Munroe-Blum is the only non-U.S. member of the committee that produced the report].

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