The Corner

RE: Ultimate Academic Scandal?

Stanley, if you think academics have been mad at you for pointing out their ideological extremism, just wait until they hear you’re calling for lower caps on overhead in their federal grants! The numbers you point to are a little known and extremely explosive secret in the relationship between the federal government and universities.

I have never seen any industry lobby, any trade association, any ideological or social activist group react with the speed, force, and intensity shown by the university “government relations” offices on (those very rare) occasions when someone in government (usually some poor sap at OMB) had the guts to raise this question of overhead payments. The amounts of money involved are staggering—millions and millions in the cases of the large research universities.


Often the scientists themselves are not big fans of these overhead payments, because they take away huge chunks of the funds available for actual research, but the university administrators adore them, and argue with a straight face that they should grow, not shrink.

Yuval Levin — Yuval Levin is the editor of National Affairs and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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