A Career in University Administration?

McEwanHall in SummerDo you enjoy working in a higher education environment but are not sure about continuing with a research or academic career?  If so, you may want to explore a career in academic administration.  You may imagine this means a secretarial or clerical role but it includes a range of professional, challenging and influential roles within higher education.  A quick glance at the University of Edinburgh job site this afternoon showed vacancies for a Publications Officer (in Communications and Marketing), a Project Officer (facilitating work-based dissertation placements for Masters students) and a Student Recruitment Officer – and you’ll see a wide variety if you look regularly.

While you don’t need a PhD to work in academic administration, it can often be an advantage and you will find former research students and staff working in non-research roles across most universities.   You can see from the quote below how one of our PhD alumni feels she is using skills developed during her PhD in a new role.

skills I gained I still use today: analytical skills, qualitative research methods, data analysis, report writing, presentation skills, networking, negotiation….

 Student recruitment and admissions manager (PhD Molecular Biology)

Some of the areas you could work in are outlined below.

Research support: – helping researchers to identify suitable sources of funding, providing training for research students and staff, coordinating university submissions to the research excellence framework, supporting university students and staff to identify opportunities for commercialising their research, and more.

Student support: – roles in departments such as careers service (there are 4 PhD graduates in our Careers Service!), counselling, international office, student disability service, student associations, and information services, working with students to support them to achieve their potential while at university and beyond.

Policy and planning: – a range of roles which focus on influencing policy on higher education, collecting and analysing data to help the university in making decisions and strategic planning, coordinating submissions to government consultations on higher education, and more.

Communications and recruitment: – promoting the university to potential students (and researchers) across the world, making sure the public and policy makers are informed about academic and research success stories, managing the recruitment and admissions process, communicating with alumni for purposes of fundraising, and more.

A good way to find out more is to browse jobs in the ‘professional, managerial and support services’ section of www.jobs.ac.uk.  You can also use your network here at the university by speaking to people in other departments who do jobs that look interesting.  If you are stuck for ideas talk to a careers adviser.

For anyone who did their undergraduate degree or Masters at one of the universities below you may be interested in Ambitious Futures, the graduate programme for university leadership.

Ambitious Futures partner The programme is recruiting 26 graduates for roles in academic administration (with the option to start studying towards a relevant postgraduate qualification) to start in January 2014.  You should have completed an undergraduate or postgraduate degree at one of the partner universities within the last 5 years.  Closing date is 13th September and for further details see the Ambitious Futures website.

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One Response to A Career in University Administration?

  1. As someone who has worked in uni admin almost all my working life, I would like to endorse these comments. By and large, I’ve found that university researchers are excellent people to work with, full of interesting ideas and keen to do good things.

    PS: Thanks for subscribing to the Research Whisperer.

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