NRC Report Provides Recommendations for Strengthening Research Universities

NRC Report Provides Recommendations for Strengthening Research Universities

July 2012

On June 14, the National Research Council (NRC) released a new report, “Research Universities and the Future of America: Ten Breakthrough Actions Vital to Our Nation’s Prosperity and Security.” The report is an update of NRC’s “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” (2005), which advised on how the United States could position itself to compete in the global economy. In 2009, Congress charged NRC with examining the current capacities of U.S. research universities, particularly in view of the competitiveness issues addressed in the 2005 report. The new report offers ten recommendations to strengthen these universities.

The report notes that U.S. research universities are a vital asset in spurring innovation and job creation and attracting human capital from other countries. Yet these institutions, particularly public universities, are constrained by shrinking federal and state investment in research and higher education. Without systemic change, the authors argue, the United States could lose its competitive advantage as other countries, such as China and India, invest more in their research universities.

The report’s recommendations focus on three areas: (a) strengthening partnerships among research universities, the business sector, the philanthropic community, and federal and state policy makers; (b) increasing universities’ effectiveness and efficiency; and (c) further developing the pipeline of doctoral talent. Among the specific recommendations are

  • Developing stable and effective federal policies, strategies, and funding for university-based R&D and graduate education;
  • Creating a strategic investment program to fund initiatives at research universities to address key national priorities;
  • Ensuring that the United States continues to benefit strongly from the participation of international students and scholars in the research enterprise.

The ten recommendations are detailed in the report, along with proposed actions to support their implementation.