Money brings freedom and the ability to respond quickly to provide the space and resources needed to exploit new opportunities. This empowers academics to be bold and take risks. I think David Cannadine is exactly right to sense this pulse in the US; we need to foster it as much in Oxford as in other UK universities.
But certainly in the sciences there is reason for optimism. The pounds 700m that has recently been made available for infrastructure support of top quality science is said to be "the chance of a lifetime" for our universities.
This will stem the decaying infrastructure, but it must also be used to foster the interfaces between classical scientific disciplines - such as those between biology and the physical sciences, mathematics and biology, genetics and molecular biology.
Scientists in the US have already been able to grasp these opportunities and David Cannadine points out that a similar attitude has worked to advantage in the humanities. To achieve these goals, there is no doubt that we shall need to find funding on a higher and more sustained level than in the past.
There are many in the university sector who lay the blame for this lack of initiative at the feet of "government imposed bureaucracy"; it is entirely appropriate that the outputs of a university should be judged, but there is a fear that this process is distracting us from growth in true academic excellence. As far as Oxford is concerned, we intend to remain a pre- eminent international university.Reuse content