Academic Values and English Higher Education
German and English ideas of academic freedom, although in some respects conceptually similar, are dissimilar in practice. These ‘freedoms’ have never been completely realised in Germany, but they constitute an essential, if subliminal, value system in higher education (HE) that has been seminally influential in east central Europe and America. The emergence of the research doctorate is associated with it. Indeed, the PhD came to Britain from Germany (Simpson 1983). Yet challenges to the German model abound in the United Kingdom. Here I propose to consider the structure and content of the model, and to analyse factors that militate against it in England.
The traditional model of the German university is eponymously called ‘Humboldtian’ after Wilhelm von Humboldt who is credited with the foundation of the University of Berlin in the early 19th century. For sixteen months he was Prussian Privy Councillor in charge of culture and education (February 1809 to June 1810) during which time he laid the basis for the proposed University of Berlin, in collaboration with other men of outstanding distinction such as Kant, Schleiermacher, Schlegel, Schelling, Steffens, Schiller, Fichte and Savigny (Anrich 1956).
Paletschek (2002) argues that the Berlin model is a 20th century invention, and that the new foundation did not introduce a paradigm change. Rather, its constitution gave it the same function as all other universities, namely to serve church and state. It had the same staff structure and the same faculties as elsewhere (theology, medicine, philosophy and law). But...
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