September and October are THE months for higher education, and recruitment of new staff is at its peak. So if you’re looking for a new job or want a career change and you’re thinking of going into higher education, here’s all you need to know. Hopefully it will help you make an informed decision as to whether or not it’s right for you.
I thought I’d start with some popular myths about higher education institutions and try to challenge them.
Myth #1 – All non-academic jobs are boring administration: Wrong! In fact there are as many non-administrative roles as there are administrative. While most roles (including senior ones) will indeed involve some extent of administration, working for a university can actually give you opportunities to do exciting things, such as organize a high-profile event, do important research, or take part in policy-making.
Myth #2 – University jobs will be very lazy: Wrong again! Although there is a lot of emphasis on work-life balance and working hours are normally reasonable, there are several times when extra hours are required and urgent deadlines need to be met. And the months between September and November are absolutely hectic for most of us.
Myth #3 – University staff don’t care about making things work: Higher education institutions are still struggling with red tape and bureaucratic procedures. This doesn’t mean that staff don’t want things to change. As far as my institution is concerned, there have been significant efforts to cut red tape and improve efficiency, not least by the employees themselves, and the results are already showing.
Myth #4 – Higher education institutions don’t care about making money: This may have been the case in the past, but it definitely isn’t now. Of course there are other priorities together with profit-making, such as student satisfaction, good image, international collaborations etc. but income generation is becoming increasingly important and desirable.
Myth #5 – There is no career progression when working for a university: Let me tell you a secret. Your career is what you make of it. Even if you worked at the biggest multinational, your career wouldn’t take off if you didn’t put time and effort in it. Same thing with universities. Promotion opportunities are available for those who deserve them, and unlike other sectors, changing posts and departments is normally easier and often encouraged.