Long time, no blog… Long time, no work!
I haven’t blogged for jobs.ac.uk for some time. For that, please accept my apologies. I was involved in a serious motorbike accident in July 2013, and the recovery has been long. Whilst I was rehabilitating, I didn’t feel that I had anything to contribute to University careers! My own was very much on hold. I have been back at my Admin role for 8 weeks now, and so my mind returns once again to my career.
I am an early stage PhD student. That has also been on hold for the last 8+ months. I was working as a full time administrator and timetabling officer. Since I have been back at work, I have been working just as a timetabling officer. This is the fun time of the year. The time of year when data is being gathered, and we are starting to try and compile timetables for a faculty. The faculty consists of 5 schools, across 3 buildings. Sometimes we feel like we are knitting rooms to try and fit it all in.
I believe I have said in a blog post before – the support staff in an HE institution is the foundation of the institution. Without these (often) under appreciated work horses, the institution would, quite frankly, crumble. We are the hidden side of the student experience and their satisfaction. Without us, there would be no timetable. There would be no marks. There would be no letter confirming the degree classification, that would then send our students out in to the big wide world of work.
Getting in to HE as support staff or academic staff is a challenge these days. When I started my Masters degree (a top up Masters), this is what I needed to move out of Admin and into an academic role. That goal post has shifted, and I now find myself needing the PhD, and 2* or 3* REFability. This will probably mean nothing unless you have been within academia in the last 4-5 years. It is tough now, getting into academia. A lot of institutions will not recruit support staff outside of the institution. People with experience outside of HE would bring excellent qualities and experience to these roles, but the roles aren’t really available. I often think there needs to be a certain mind-set of person to enter into HE. I feel comfortable and happy working in HE, and believe it is where I belong.
There are threats and challenges to a lot of support staff within HE. Whilst Professors, Readers and researchers are being actively recruited in the sector, support staff find themselves in positions of vulnerability. Very often under-staffed and overworked, the support staff are under threat. These are challenging times for HE support staff. We are involved in the pay disputes, but we do not have the industrial action power of our academic colleagues – we cannot stage a marking boycott. Maybe we could stage a mark entry boycott to back up the marking boycott? Can’t see that one happening….