Some universities and colleges in the US are now being funded according to a productivity-based formula. Does this make sense?
What is the productivity of a university? how is it measured? Number of degrees per $1,000 of investment?
Get it wrong – and universities will play the measurement game – making the figures move in the direction which benefits them financially even if this is not the most appropriate measure.
This is not to suggests that productivity is not important – after all universities are spending public money – and should be held accountable for it.
But if we get the measure wrong – we get the wrong result. Universities might benefit – but society won’t. So we need a good, healthy debate on what the measure – or measures – should be.