Home > For Institutional Investors > De-Know-Polization 知识去垄断 Universities facing the de-monopolization of knowledge research, teaching and service 面对知识研究、教育及服务去垄断化的大学

De-Know-Polization 知识去垄断 Universities facing the de-monopolization of knowledge research, teaching and service 面对知识研究、教育及服务去垄断化的大学

yesha-iati-linkedin知识去垄断 Let us begin with a fundamental observation of the “de-monopolization” of knowledge, a.k.a. “de-know-polization.” Until the end of the 20th century, universities were the societal leaders in the creation, transfer and usage of knowledge. Today, however, this historical role is fundamentally changing.

Most universities are no longer the best place to do research and teach. Their societal service as hubs of knowledge and innovation can be done more effectively elsewhere. What used to be their natural monopoly is currently under attack.

De-know-polization is both a cause for and a response to the disruption of this old monopoly, rising from globalization and digitization. As de-know-polization reveals itself, university leaders will need to take actions, and justify these actions to their public and private funders, including students paying tuition and taxpayers.

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Taxpayers will ask how does university research affect our quality of life? Why do we need to fund professors’ travel and publishing papers that have little relevance to our society? On the other hand, students, their parents, and other funders of education will ask where is the best place to learn? Who gives the best value for the investment?

Where is the best place to do research in computer science? The answer is probably Google, Facebook, Microsoft or IBM. The livelihood of such firms depends on new products and services that stem from their research. Their researchers do not have to teach; they usually have the needed resources of time, money and equipment – and they have business managers that push for value. Private firms, or dedicated research organizations, seem like a better answer than the usual university faculty-driven research or labs.

Most university teaching is akin to horses in the ages of cars. An extra-terrestrial observer will wonder why we keep putting people into the same lackluster context of ineffectiveness potentially causing torture by boredom. The classical model of several students listening to a lecture in the same room is tired, often resulting in only a quarter of students listening, a quarter spending their time in Facebook or Tinder, a quarter sleeping or dreaming based on the previous apps, and the rest are not even in class. Online education, including massive open online courses, is but a small step in the right direction.

Universities that will continue with “older” teaching methods and not embrace the new tools will not be able to justify their funding. Moreover, assuming that we need to fund teaching – shouldn’t we fund it in the best place possible? Could not-for-profits provide a better social service than researchers that also need to teach? Why invest in a ‘jack of all trades’ rather than a ‘master of one’?

What about societal service? We cannot anymore justify the public investment in universities in the age of globalization and digitization. Capital and people are flowing to the best place for their goals. There is much less reason to be near a university anymore, and funding a university with the hope of getting good jobs and firms only diverts resources from other, more effective policy actions – like lower tax with direct impact on business, or enhancing quality of life, itself a pull for economic growth.

Our message to university leaders and policy-makers, further elaborated in the recent issue of Coller Venture Review is to be aware of the various threats and opportunities, particularly when it comes to the evolving role of universities within the evolving venture ecosystem. Don’t think business is as usual – seek new models for research, teaching and service. A plan of no action will lead to an inevitable demise. Business as usual now means no business at all in the future. Better you lead the change, than let the change lead you.

Originally published at the Jerusalem Post on 20-Oct-2016. This is an adapted version of an article published at CVR Issue 4. Read the full version of this article.

知识去垄断:

面对知识研究、教育及服务去垄断化的大学

讓我们从观察到知识的“去垄断化”这一点开始谈起。一直到20世纪底,大学高校都在知识的创造,转移,应用上站在整个社会的领头地位。但是在今天,他们的传统角色已经有了基本的变化。

大多高校已经不再是教学研究做得最好的地方了。他们作为知识与创意枢纽为社会提供的服务可以在别的地方更有效地实现。他们长久以来的自然垄断正在遭受挑战。

知识的去垄断化来自于全球化的数字革命,它既是瓦解垄断的一个因素、也是对付垄断的一个手段。随着这个去垄断的步步前进,高校的领导必须有对应的行动,并且对支持他们的政府、捐赠人士、学生和纳税人来证明他们的行动是正确的。

纳税人会质疑大学研究工作如何增进他们生活的质量?假如教授们开会发论文对社会没有产生很大的价值,我们为什么要纳税人支持他们?从另一个角度去看,学生、家长、和其它支持教育体系的人都会问哪里才是最佳学习的地方?哪里的性价比最高?哪里是从事计算机研究的最佳地方?答案可能是谷歌、脸书、微软、IBM。这些企业的产品和服务项目都依靠他们的研发工作。他们的研究人员没有教学的任务;通常也有他们需要的时间、预算、设备等等资源 – 而且还有商业操作的同事替他们的研发成果发掘价值。这种企业或科研单位似乎比大学教授和实验室提供了更好的答案。

大多数的大学都好像是在汽车时代的马匹。外星人如果来观察会问我们为什么持续的把人力资源往这么一个效率不高缺乏亮点的系统里投入。传统的一群学生在一个教室里听一个教授上课的模式已经过时了,常常是只有1/4的学生在认真听课、1/4在玩手机、1/4在打瞌睡或者做白日梦、剩下的心根本就没有在教室里。对此,网上教学如慕课一类系统是面向正确方向迈出的一步。

继续坚持传统教学模式的大学将会难以争取财务支持。我们如果应该为教学提供财务支持,难道不该支持最好的模式吗?新一代非盈利机构里的研发是不是可能比传统大学里必须兼顾教学工作的研究员能为社会带来更有效率的服务呢?我们为什么要坚持支持’杂而不精’而不是’专精一项’的模式呢?

那么从社会服务的角度又怎么看呢?我们在全球数字化的时代中也不容易再替大学争取公共投资了。资本和人才一向是向最符合他们目标的方向流去的。那种’必须临近一个大学’的说法现在理由也不那么充分了。投资给一个大学希望能创造出一些企業和它們帶來的工作机会、可能还不如把资源用在更直接政策上 – 比如对企业降税、或投资在能促进经济发展的事、例如增进人民生活质量。

我们对大学的领导和政府的政策制订人的呼吁(在近期的COLLER创业期刊上有更深入的探讨,请参考(http://civ.global/cvr4)是:了解各种挑战与机遇、尤其是大学在创业的大环境转型之中本身正在转变的角色。不做改变是不行的 – 大学必须寻找研究、教学、以及服务上的新模式。守成不变只会造成连基础都守不住。领导改变远比听令于改变要强。

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