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CRITICISM OF THE CARNEGIE TRUST
to the majority of whom the words science and scientific research mean little more than the letters out of which the words are composed, an equitable balance between science and the other subjects cognate to a technical or commercial education. Either they should be totally neutral as regards the two competing beneficiaries, or they should be reconstituted to give a representation to each side in accordance with the intentions of the founder of the Trust.
In the general awakening to the national importance of giving fair play to science, and especially to scientific investigation in the universities, it is to be hoped that the composition of the Carnegie Trust and its record of work under Clause A will not escape unchallenged.
It would indeed be strange if out of between one-half and three-quarters of a million pounds interest available for the promotion of scientific study and research, science had not benefited at all. That of course is not alleged. But the almost total lack of representation of living science on the Trust, and the over-representation of the humanistic element, has made for fatal timidity and lack of imagination and originality in the application of the moneys, so far as the primary object of the benefaction is concerned. There is no automatic retiral of members annually, or provision making them ineligible for re-election till after an interval, which has been found to be necessary, from experience, for good and effective management. body so constituted, probably the best and worst that could be said is that they were given a unique opportunity to promote scientific study and investigation, and even if they had had the best will towards science in the world they could not have grasped it, because that is a branch of human endeavour which the overwhelming majority had not explored for themselves. In these circumstances a secretary who had some acquaintance with scientific study and investigation might have been of service to them. No doubt their difficulties were enormous in connection
with the peculiar relations to the universities in which they were thrown, but the difficulties have proved the master. The nation should look for something more real in the promotion of scientific study and research in the future from the million pounds which Mr Carnegie gave for the purpose.
It would not be fair to saddle the Carnegie Trustees with the responsibility, at least before it has been pointed out to them; but their attention and that of the public may be directed to a very important cognate question. How much of the grants from the Carnegie Trust nominally given to science is diverted from that object ? Special information, not contained in every case in the financial statements of the universities presented to Parliament, is needed in this inquiry, and this must excuse the writer's inability to consider any but his own university, and indeed little more than his own department, of which naturally he has the fullest information.
The one scientific post in Aberdeen endowed by the Carnegie Trust is the Lectureship in Geology.
The endowment, £12,632, and an annual grant of £1000 towards equipment of the laboratories, practically exhaust the Trust's scientific allocations in this university. In the early years a total sum not exceeding £2500 in addition went in small increases of from £75 to £50 in the salaries of some half-dozen science lecturers and assistants. In the published accounts, the interest of the Geology endowment to the extent of £400 is stated to have gone to the payment of the Lecturer's salary, and the part payment of that of an assistant. But, taking 1913-14, the year before the war, the students' class fees, £505– mainly derived from the second Carnegie million, administered under Clause B-alone, without counting an equivalent proportion of examination and degree fees, more than paid the total salaries of the Geology staff, £475. If the examination and degree fees are included and the external examiner's salary deducted, there remains a balance of £173, which is more than enough to wipe out
CRITICISM OF THE CARNEGIE TRUST
the item of £128 which the department is credited with receiving from the Carnegie Trust out of the annual grant of £1000 for equipment. Thus so far as the main provision for science by the Carnegie Trust in Aberdeen is concerned, the money is diverted to other purposes.
The Chemistry Department, when the writer was appointed to the Professorship, was credited in the 1913-14 accounts with the receipt of £534 of public money-that is, £149 from the Carnegie Trust out of the annual £1000 grant for equipment, and £385 from the Exchequer. Nevertheless, counting in an old endowment which brought in £194, it was entirely supported by the class and examination fees paid by the students taught, without this £534, which was diverted to other purposes.
By the Act of 1889 all financial control and responsibility was taken out of the hands of the Professors and vested in the University Court, who were enjoined by Ordinance 26, Clause V, to keep a separate account of the fees, distinguishing those drawn from each class, and by Clause XI, in providing for the educational needs of the several Faculties, to have due regard, inter alia, to the contributions made by the Faculties respectively to the funds of the University.
Latterly the accounts have ceased even to attempt to conform with the first of these obligations, and for lack of this information it is impossible to say where the moneys nominally given to Chemistry and Geology really go. It is not suggested that they go to Arts or Law, or any particular Faculty, specially. The Court alone can give the necessary information.
A questionable system seems to be in vogue, euphemistically known as “saving the General Fund,” whereby grants of public money are given not directly only to such departments as are spending more than they earn, but even to those like Chemistry, which are earning what they spend. The Court is under obligation to report to the Government and the Carnegie Trust annually the manner in which the grants have been expended, and the
nominal purpose reported is not in all cases the real one. It is not a question of principle, whether a flourishing department ought to support one that is not, but of straightforward bookkeeping Moneys are given to a department A, the effect of which is to transfer the equivalent amount of fees to another department B. A is credited in the annual statements with the receipt of the money, but B gets it. Why is not B given the money directly instead of A, and the transaction recorded in the accounts ? The answer is that though A, by the terms of the gift, is necessarily a proper recipient, B may or may not be.
Whatever may have been the abuses of the régime before the Act of 1889, the fact that such a subject as Chemistry at least would have been better off, if it had been left as it was, in spite of all the wealth from the Government and the Carnegie Trust, which has since come to the coffers of the University, is a sufficient indictment of the present system.
Enough has, perhaps, been said to show that some inquiry not only into the Carnegie Trust, but also into the manner the financial system of the Scottish Universities is operating, is called for. It is not mainly a question of money. Money is merely the measure. Here is a department, original investigation in which, it has been shown, is vital to the future prosperity of the country. It supports itself by hard teaching. It is stated in the published accounts to receive sums which it in fact does not receive, and which if it did receive would enable the teaching staff to be increased and some time allowed for research. It is idle for any public or private benefactor to give money for a specific object, such as the improvement and extension of the opportunities of scientific research, until the system is overhauled which makes it possible for moneys so given to be diverted.
The University fees go almost wholly into the one “General Fund” created by the Act of 1889. The departmental expenses are borne by grants from this fund, from
CRITICISM OF THE CARNEGIE TRUST
the public money provided by the Exchequer, and by the Carnegie Trust. Hitherto the giving of a grant to a department has often meant merely the diminution of its grant from the General Fund. If the departments are all stereotyped as regards the amount of tuition performed, it is obvious that the simultaneous gift of public money and the withdrawal of the same amount of fees would not benefit the department in the slightest, nor lessen its burden of tuition. But if, as is the case with a subject like Chemistry, the fees earned and burden of tuition, of which they are to some extent the measure, are rapidly growing relatively to the rest of the University, each year must increase its burden and lessen its power of original production, its increased earnings all the time going to make up corresponding losses of fees in other departments. This has got to the point with the Chemistry Department of Aberdeen that it has actually become self-supporting, though nominally receiving large grants of public money. It would be better off if it had been left as it was before 1889 in possession of its own earnings, and without the sort of assistance it receives from the Carnegie Trust and the Government. Until this matter is looked into, it is useless for the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Carnegie Trust to grant further moneys to the universities if their object is to foster those departments which are becoming of increasing national importance, and for which there is growing up an increasing demand.