As a very broad generality, academia is highly respected in Menelmacar. Knowledge and the pursuit thereof, in almost any field, is held in great esteem. Likewise those who propagate knowledge to new generations are also generally quite respected. However, it is generally expected (though not legally required) for a teacher to have significant knowledge or experience in the field being taught.
Research and science in Menelmacar receives its funding from a variety of sources. My own department, the Prefecture of Education and Science, receives a fairly substantial portion of the annual Imperial budget, which is itself funded both by taxes and a portion of proceeds from Menelmacar’s sovereign wealth fund. We have two main missions. One is to fund grants to university research departments and scientific laboratories, and even individual research projects on occasion, and the other is to set standards and funding for the educational system at large.
To receive Imperial funding a research project must generally demonstrate how it might be applied to provide real benefits to Menelmacar, but a substantial ‘common-sense’ fudge-factor is applied to these reviews. For example, theoretical physics tends to have a lower applicability standard applied, because while it may seem arcane and esoteric to the layman, it is indisputable that such research has led to immense understanding, applications and improvements throughout Menelmacari society.
However, it is required that all data and results from a government-funded study must be released to the public, not merely the final conclusions of the study. In this way all such studies are easily verified by peers and the scientists behind them are held to honest account, and it is quite difficult in practice to fudge data in order to further a policy agenda or exploit public funding.
Alternative sources of funding are myriad. Non-profit and charitable organizations exist to fund research, usually in a particular field of interest. Donations can be solicited from wealthy individuals. And corporations are nearly always willing to fund research in areas related to their products and services.
Public-release laws related to privately-funded research are not as strict as for publicly-funded, but do exist; in most cases there is given a grace period so the funders or owners of the research may have first crack at exploiting or applying their own discoveries. Of course in any case the funder or owner is free to voluntarily disseminate, and this is not uncommon.
Education itself in Menelmacar is generally ‘free’, up to a point. Every family with children receives a voucher annually which they can redeem for tuition for their children at the school of their choice. Adults seeking university degrees are also eligible for vouchers for their own use.
Schools compete for ‘business’ as would any other industry, seeking to differentiate themselves from their competitors with superior facilities, track record, reputation, or faculty. The very finest schools charge more than the voucher is worth; the voucher in that case serves as a discount, but the family is responsible for making up the rest.
Due to the low birth rate among Quendi, class sizes are usually very small, the largest usually under ten children. However, Menelmacari schools tend to be more expensive to operate than their counterparts elsewhere, due to the longer length of schooling for elven children (who reach maturity at fifty), plus the costs of superior facilities and equipment, and compensation for teachers who are usually subject-matter experts rather than ‘career teachers’.
Finally, Menelmacar boasts one of the finest collections of knowledge known to exist, in the Library of Ages in Vinyatírion. The final responsibility of my department is the maintenance and expansion of this archive, which contains a copy of every book, journal, magazine, newspaper, and audio-, video-, or holo-recording we know to have ever been published.
The originals are kept safely in a classified location but all content has been digitized for the access of all Menelmacari citizens at any time, as well as the citizens of certain other nations, notably The C’tan, with whom Menelmacar is close and has ratified relevant treaties. Access to publications still under copyright is by nominal monthly-flat-rate or per-download fee, which funds royalties to the copyright holders.
Access to the Library of Ages is not generally permitted to foreigners except by specific request by time and particular data sought, and these requests are granted or denied on a case by case basis.
In particular many publications with respect to highly advanced Menelmacari science such as gravitics, fabbing, or magic, tend to be restricted to Menelmacari or trusted-ally citizens; generally if you can’t find it in export-grade products, you won’t be able to read about it in the Library without Menelmacari citizenship. For the purposes of public-release of research data, publication in a journal posted in the Library will do the trick.
~Answered by Lord Celebrimbor nos Fëanor, Prefect of Education and Science, Lord-emeritus of Eregion, and Forger of the Three Elven Rings of Power