Why are British universities, unlike those in the United States, South Africa and other countries, so marginal when it comes to giving advice on public policy? Although it is clearly in the national interest that academics should share their expertise with the public, their policy advice does not attract the government funding that universities need.

So begins Geraldine Van Bueren, here, for The Independent.¬† The point is a good one, and is something that has been on my mind. We might hope that a healthy middle ground could be fostered between the partisan bickering that we are so used to in politics (no one is surprised by George Osborne’s response to the budget – we have a he’s-bound-to-say-that attitude) and the often difficult to grasp and and subtle views of academics, rife with provisos, caveats, and footnotes.