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Humboldt is dead. Research-led teaching in the contemporary university

Christian Bueger (EUROP)
Huw Williams (ENCAP)

Research-led teaching is the mantra of today’s leading universities. The idea that world-leading research is causally linked to high quality education is the centrepiece in the identity of contemporary universities and a cornerstone in their reputation and marketing strategies. In this article we argue that the idea of research-led teaching is a plausible and promising, yet idealistic leitmotiv that often has little correspondence to contemporary academic practice. Evaluating the notion against the backdrop of the broader contemporary situation in which the university and its academic practitioners work, we find that the idea of research-led teaching is challenged substantially. In consequence research-led teaching has become more a myth than a practice. Our intent is to open a reflexive discussion of what research-led teaching can mean today, considering that the notion is crucial in today’s academic vocabulary but has hardly been put to scrutiny in a sufficient manner.