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The myth of the market

Universities are being made to compete for research funding and student recruitment, but this goes against a culture of collaboration, argues Richard Budd.

Universities, in the UK and globally, operate in a market. They compete with other higher education institutions—and other training and career pathways—for students, funding and staff, all of which are only available in finite amounts. In short, it’s a dogfight over limited resources, a race to the top where only the fittest are chosen as research, work or study destinations and can therefore survive. 

In many ways, though, higher education is not a market. There is some competition, but research and teaching are founded on collegiality and collaboration. Commercial organisations don’t usually share information or know-how with their competitors to improve what they do or produce.

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