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I totally agree regarding the decline of universities. In particular I think the research side will be the first to shift away from universities; at least with education you are essentially paying for a brand name which has inherent value. With research, the principle investigator writes the grant to pay their own salary, the salaries of their graduate students and postdocs, and their equipment. The university then takes almost all the scientists IP and charges "indirect costs" equivalent to more than 50% of the grant to supply "Facilities and Administration" - which is what exactly? Lights, building space, and a whole lot of bureaucracy.

Already, some really innovative initiatives are getting around this problem. The Pasadena Bioscience Collaborative offers lab space and equipment for ~$1,000 per month (no contract required!) and the EMBARK program administers scientists grants and encourages them to outsource experiments to core facility specialists (while providing access to a basic shared lab for those experiments that can't be easily outsourced). Both initiatives offer ways for scientists to avoid high indirect costs and burdensome admin - and importantly the scientists retain 100% of their IP!

These initiatives are the way of the future - it's hard to see how big, inefficient universities will be able to attract the top talent for much longer.

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