Here is a question for you: of the funds going into the university sector via the commonwealth ministries (DEST), how much actually ends up paying for research and teaching versus other uses of the money? Included in research/teaching here would also be the buildings and rooms in which the students get taught and all the preparation of the lecturers. Yet, any other uses of the money that do not themselves constitute teaching and research can be viewed as an ‘intermediary’ between the tax payers/students and the actual services being bought. So how much do the intermediaries siphon off?
The answer clearly cannot be 0% because one needs intermediaries in any market. Students have to be registered and kept informed. Researchers have to be found, hired, and then their work has to be disseminated. Someone has to look after the buildings and the grounds. The ministry needs to be run. Meetings need to be had. So one needs some intermediaries.
Still, it matters what the answer is. If a high percentage of funding ends up at the ‘coal face’ then clearly things are better than if it is a low percentage. The recent outcry here and in America over the increase in administrivia is all about the notion that too much of the funding goes to the intermediaries and not enough to those actually teaching and researching, meaning that students and the country get a bad deal.
As usual with these questions, you get my best guess answer on Monday. Who is game to give an informed or even uninformed guess? What would you think is reasonable?