Eyes on the enterprise: problematising the concept of a teaching-research nexus in UK higher education

Jim McKinley, Shona McIntosh, Lizzi Milligan, Agata Mikołajewska

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17 Citations (SciVal)


Existing research into the relationship between teaching and research in higher education is mainly normative and atheoretical, resulting in assumptions of a close and beneficial connection between them. We problematise the idea of a nexus by undertaking a critical examination of the concept through the lens of educational ideologies to theorise the changes over time that shape the ways teaching and research are practised. Two hundred seven academic staff in the Humanities and Social Sciences were surveyed in 10 universities in England and Wales; the universities were identified as having strength in teaching, research, or in both. Along with analysis of interviews with senior managers at these universities, findings suggest that systemic forces which separate teaching and research are evident in institutional contexts with implications for the idea of a nexus. While the nexus may exist in theory, in practice, we argue that teaching and research can be pulled in different directions by institutional priorities. Furthermore, in institutions which adopt an enterprise ideology, there are signs of a nascent nexus emerging between research and innovation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHigher Education
Early online date3 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2020


  • Enterprise ideology
  • Humanities and social sciences
  • Problematising
  • Teaching-research nexus
  • UK higher education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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