Strategy Pays before Money; HIGHER EDUCATION: US Model Serves as Best Example of Creating Institutes Where Innovation and Ideas Reap Commercial Benefits the Final Word
Byline: Ian Courtney
WELSH Higher Education has recently been the subject of a major review of its future by the National Assembly's Education Committee.
I have also co-authored a study to assess the prospects of establishing a National Technology Institute in Wales.
And as one of Wales's thinktanks the Institute of Welsh Affairs has published a fascinating report on the topic entitled The Third Mission. The reason behind all this activity is the continuing debate about the role of higher education.
Traditionally the main roles of higher education have been to function as teaching and research institutes. But more recently a third role has been added - the role of higher education as a contributor to the development of the local economy.
This largely arises because of the important position that can be played by higher education as a source of innovation and ideas capable of commercial exploitation. Strong evidence of this is contained in the World Knowledge Competitiveness Index 2002 where the top 20 positions are all occupied by the United States.
Each and every one of them scores highly on measures reflecting the involvement of higher education in regional economic development.
Encouraged by these lessons the National Assembly's Winning Wales document formalises the role by bringing higher education into the fraternity of Welsh economic development bodies.
But the risk here is that this will produce a mixed mandate for education, making co-existence neither achievable nor desirable. …