The recent furore around the funding of new drugs for cancer and CF caused me to have a look at the website of the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics. They look like an impressive outfit and they conduct very rigorous and highly mathematical cost-benefit analyses of new drugs coming onto the market.
It is odd though that the same sort of rigour is not used throughout other areas of government. In education, for example, we tend to do many things for political reasons or on the basis of submissions from stakeholders with a vested interest in a particular outcome.
If we had an NCPE for education, here are just three economy-related things they might look at:
- The economic value of publically funded, academia-based basic research
- The contribution of PhD-level education to the economy
- The economic value to the regions of rebranding IoTs as TUs
In many ways these are harder questions that the ones the NCPE tends to ask but they are not impossible. Brian Lucey’s group in TCD, for example, have carried out a number of studies of this type, including one on the economic value of the third level system as a whole and, more recently, one on the economic value of international students.