« AnteriorContinuar »
CRITICISM OF THE CARNEGIE TRUST 211
they were given when they were wanted; whereas, to suit the conditions laid down by the Trustees, the money has to be applied for before a definite date in the year before it is wanted. But of the three indispensable requirements for getting research done, these two, the training of the apprentice and the provision of money for instruments, are preliminary. The third indispensable, letting the trained man with the instruments do the research, is the one this country has not yet thought much about.
At the bottom of the ladder, the Research Scholar or Fellow at the end of his training has had to abandon the work for which he was training and seek a livelihood. If he is lucky he will get a teaching position, and if, again, he is lucky he may find odd moments to continue his researches. If he is not so lucky he has to begin late in life the study of the art of earning a living. The Professor at the top, nowhere more than in Scotland, finds that he must now be content to do his research by deputy, and the most he can hope for is to train clever apprentices. Some subjects, naturally, lend themselves to this requirement very much better than others, and what is possible in them is not possible in general. The real business for which the Professor is paid, again nowhere more than in the land to which Mr Carnegie gave his millions, is to teach. Instead of being treated as a life-business, requiring years of devoted training and study for the preparation, and equally devoted and uninterrupted application for its pursuit, research is treated as a hobby to be followed by busy teachers in the intervals of their regular duties. This is not the way to foster perhaps the most important and repaying of all the State's numerous activities. The Carnegie Trustees have not even attempted to meet this difficulty.
The Annual Reports issued by the Carnegie Trust do not contain the names of the Trustees. The original list in the Trust Deed consists of fourteen nominated members, two of them, Lord Kelvin and Sir Henry Roscoe, having
in the past contributed to the advancement of natural knowledge, four ex-officio members (the Secretary of State for Scotland, and the Lord Provosts of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Dunfermline for the time being), and four members elected by the universities. The vacancies in the nominated members are filled up by the Trustees. remaining.
The nominated Trustees apparently hold office for life, and consist almost entirely of eminent public men, more or less universally known, many of them distinguished in History, Literature, Philosophy, and the Law, that is, in the ancillary or illegitimate rather than the primary group of studies. Moreover, the branches of the ancillary subjects in which they are distinguished are not those cognate to a technical or commercial education. The two original scientific members are dead, as also is Sir Arthur Rucker, who replaced one of them. In the case of all three, their career of active scientific investigation had practically closed before they were appointed. In no case, so far as the writer is aware, has an active scientific investigator been a Trustee. At the present time there does not appear to be a single scientific man on the Trust.1 Of the four Trustees elected by the universities, two are distinguished members of the medical profession; a third, Sir William Turner, having lately died. The legal profession, past and present Cabinet Ministers, and public administrators supply the whole of the present nominated members. Sir Henry Roscoe's death removed the only scientific member. The others are: Earl of Elgin and Kincardine, Earl of Rosebery, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, Lord Kinnear of Spurness (ex-Senator of the College of Justice), Lord Reay of Reay, Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, Viscounts Bryce and Morley, Lord Shaw, Rt. Hon. H. H. Asquith, and W. J. Dundas (Crown Agent for Scotland). It is mere hypocrisy to expect from a body so constituted,
1 Between the time of writing and publication Sir Alfred Ewing became a member of the Trust, as the representative of the Edinburgh University Court.
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. Of a 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, £505mainly 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