Commercial investment in higher education has been a hot topic for a generation. On one hand, commercial investments have led to tremendous progress for private corporations, and large funding for higher education. Moreover, the research continues to transpire jaw-dropping workloads for faculty members and awe-inspiring research opportunities for students.
In lieu of these pressing issues, corporations like Google, Huawei, and Microsoft have ramped up their research-collaboration with higher education institutes. For example, Microsoft funded nearly 7,900 academic publications between 2015 and 2019. Moreover, the funding from corporates is becoming a boon for top universities in China as out of the 7900 papers published, more than 1600 came from China. Similarly, universities in Europe are also stepping up their game to fund more research.
Huawei launched its own European Research Institute, based in Belgium. The company also upped its commitment to higher education research from $13.6 billion to $19.5 billion. Huawei also plans to invest nearly $100 billion in R&D over the next five years. Similarly, the Netherlands managed to get more co-authorship at 5.8 % more than either higher education universities in the US and the UK.
Rising Funding for Sciences
The rising funding also supports sciences and engineering in particular. Among engineering, computer science, and material science remained the most popular choice for private funding. Furthermore, the funding also promises more close collaboration among higher education shortly. For example, Huawei’s institute in Belgium will work on 5G innovation along with the University of Surrey in the UK. Huawei also supports research at Aalto University in Finland, which is working on 5G technologies for autonomous vehicles, and buses.
A Rising Challenge for US Higher Education
Traditionally, US higher education has enjoyed a prominent status in research globally. US universities like Stanford and MIT have topped several ranking charts for research funding per faculty member. The rising funding among global institutes by private players and the rising quality of institutes globally remains a challenge for US higher education.
On the bright side, US higher education institutes are the primary drivers of quality original and innovative research. Factually, most Nobel Prize winners still come from US institutes. Besides, this is an area that the US still holds an advantage as it remains a top destination for world-class talent from around the world.
The rising commercial funding will likely help higher education institutes around the world build a solid foundation of funding for needy students, academic programs, and invest in original research. Only time will tell if the post-COVID-19 era awaits a brighter future for US universities.