Creative arts and research-intensive universities: a crucial partnership

20 September 2012

At first sight the creative arts and research-intensive universities may not seem what you would call “a match made in heaven”. Yet, a new briefing paper published by the League of European Research Universities argues that university strategy and cultural policy can form a crucial partnership and that investing in the field of creativity provokes additional benefits for the institutions, their staff and students.

The authors of the briefing paper, Martinus Buekers (KU Leuven) and Bas Nugteren (Universiteit Utrecht), tell us why and how the creative arts are important for modern research-intensive universities, hoping to inspire university decision makers to establish a strategic policy for the creative arts at their institutions. Doing so can generate multiple benefits that range from scientific insights and educational quality over societal value to economic profit.

Buekers and Nugters describe a model according to which universities can design a cultural strategy, using “production”, “participation” and “connection” as its three anchor points. For such a strategy to be successful, they go on to say, several framework conditions need to be met. For example, the university leadership should be committed to the cause, with a high level central appointment responsible for strategy development and dedicated contact persons in faculties or similar units. Students should be confronted with the creative thinking of the artistic world and stimulated to participate. In addition, the scientific potential of research departments should be linked with the creative capacity of the cultural field (exhibitions, science museums, common projects). Involving international scholars as well as the local community is crucial, too.

The paper discusses several initiatives at LERU universities describing how this can be done in practice, from university museums that also operate are research institutes (e.g. at the University of Helsinki), to a programme for talented students at the KU Leuven which strengthens ties between the university and the city’s cultural organisations, to the merger of the University of Edinburgh with the Edinburgh College of Arts.

The authors thus make a convincing case that developing and implementing a solid university cultural policy plan is not to be considered a redundant luxury and that focusing on the immensely rich field of creativity and creative arts has a great potential of ‘collateral advantage’ for our ‘prominent places of education and research’.

Download the paper at our publications' page

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Notes for editors
This paper and all other LERU publications are freely available online at

The League of European Research Universities (LERU) is as an association of leading research-intensive universities that share the values of high-quality teaching within an environment of internationally competitive research. Founded in 2002, LERU advocates education through an awareness of the frontiers of human understanding; the creation of new knowledge through basic research, which is the ultimate source of innovation in society; and the promotion of research across a broad front in partnership with industry and society at large.

For questions about the report or about LERU, or to arrange an interview with the authors or with a LERU representative in your country, contact Dr. Katrien Maes, Chief Policy Officer, tel BE +32 16 32 09 04, Mob. +32 473 97 70 14 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

The LERU universities are:

  • Universiteit van Amsterdam
  • Universitat de Barcelona
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
  • Université de Genève
  • Universität Heidelberg
  • Helsingin yliopisto (University of Helsinki)
  • Universiteit Leiden
  • KU Leuven
  • Imperial College London
  • University College London
  • Lunds universitet
  • Università degli Studi di Milano
  • Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
  • University of Oxford
  • Université Pierre et Marie Curie
  • Université Paris-Sud 11
  • Université de Strasbourg
  • Universiteit Utrecht
  • Universität Zürich