Within the vertically differentiated German university system, the Humboldtian ideal of the unity of research and teaching can no longer be taken for granted. We argue that the organizational academic profession actively pursues the erosion of the unity of research and teaching in their social partnership with the state, trading autonomy for proof of efficient public research and/or teaching services. The results of the 2018 Academic Profession in Knowledge Societies study show that the evolution of research policy at large universities and Excellence Universities in Germany has led to a focus on journal publication outputs and increasing third-party funding. Academics at Excellence and large universities have a strong preference for research over teaching. In spite of a lower teaching workload, academics at Excellence Universities teach more in bachelor courses compared to academics at large universities. Especially small universities are at risk of becoming teaching-oriented universities.