Academic common room
Careers advice: How to get into HE admin role
Tempjob · 29/12/2019 21:07
I have a PhD and several years of post doc experience, but am becoming tired of fixed term contracts and moving around. I am considering the possibility of any other careers in academia, especially widening participation, research support or any other roles.
If anyone has any experience of these careers, could you let me know what your job is like and how you got into it?
marialuisa · 31/12/2019 13:07
Have a look at Ambitious Futures, it’s the HE admin graduate scheme but open to career changers too. If you have a school ops manager or similar would suggest having a chat with them. I’m happy to chat via PM. I’m nearly 20 years in and it’s worked out ok
Dolorabelle · 31/12/2019 13:54
A lot of academic professional services jobs requiring the kinds of qualifications and experience you have are advertised on jobs.ac.uk
We (academics) need good professional services colleagues who know what we do, and respect the work and the people. I am noticing this at the moment with a change of professional services personnel supporting a committee and its associated work packages which I chair - the previous professional colleague got on with stuff, really took initiative and was a colleague in the best possible way. The current person needs reminding then nagging to the extent that I've started to do a lot of the work myself. I tend to think they are just lazy, but they're also looking quite slapdash. So I'm doing part of their job as well as my own ...
There are some wonderful opportunities to stay involved in the administration of research - which - from what I can see - is not as divorced from doing research as you might think. Policy & strategy jobs in the Research Offices of good research-led universities, or the Research Councils, offer some great opportunities to be part of research teams. And with a bit of experience & initiative, a research admin job in a post-92 would also offer great opportunities to create and drive policy, and work with keen & expert academics.
Or if you're interested in equality & diversity I think there'd be great opportunities there, too - in say, Admissions (I think I'm going to volunteer for the Sutton Trust when I retire). I've worked with some terrific Admissions professional services people who have done great things in widening participation.
Just some ideas ...
CosmoK · 01/01/2020 17:46
I worked in schools liaison for years and this incorporated WP. The most important things we looked for were an understanding of HE ( particularly the application process and student journey), experience of working with young people or events and flexibility....the job requires evening and weekend work and often UK travel.
Lovely job though ....but not that well paid. It's typically a grade 6 unless you get into management.
Another role I've done is careers adviser/consultant. However, some universities may require you to do an additional qualification such as a PgDip/MA in career guidance. There's more earning potential in this role though.
coffeemonster28 · 02/01/2020 16:36
I'm an IT project manager with a PhD in sociology (finished in 2009). Got into it in a somewhat round about way - research assistant to project assistant>research fellow/project manager (wrote myself into a grant)>redeployment when the grant ended- project manager in HR and then business improvement services>changed institutions - IT project manager. along the way I did a PRINCE2 course, and a then a bunch of other project management courses. Feel free to send me a direct message if you have any specific questions.
bibliomania · 07/01/2020 13:54
Registry role. I do find it interesting - while quite a lot of it is routine, there is also a good bit of problem-solving.
I fell into the role by accident when I got the chance of redeployment after a fixed term contract. I went in at a lowly level, which dented my pride a bit, but I needed the money and couldn't wait for the perfect role. It's not too hard to move up the ranks if you're keen to do so. Most of my colleagues aren't former academics, but you do get a few and the "Dr" thing does get you some respect.
LisaSimpsonsbff · 11/01/2020 14:15
I know this is a bit late to the thread but I made exactly this transition last summer - from postdocs/fixed-term lecturer contracts (which I'd done since 2013) to a professional services job. I work in quality, which is much more varied and interesting than it might sound. I earn more than I did as a postdoc and I find leaving at 5 and not working weekends amazing after being used to an academic work-life balance (ie, not having one - one reason I left was because I found it so hard after having my son). I sometimes miss teaching but, to my surprise, haven't yet missed research (though I am still finishing off some bits in my spare time to tie up some loose ends). It's been 6 months and so far my only real regret is not having made the transition sooner.
peachypetite · 11/01/2020 14:17
There are loads of jobs on jobs.ac.uk
Have a look and see what you find.
LisaSimpsonsbff · 11/01/2020 14:32
Definitely just have a look. I didn't know my kind of job existed in all the years I previously worked in universities but just looked at the jobs page of the university that I most wanted to work in (no longer wanting to be geographically mobile and wanting to live closer to my son's grandparents was another major reason I made the decision), read the job description and noted to my surprise that it sounded quite interesting and I could honestly say that I met all the applicant criteria.
Nononononono33 · 11/01/2020 14:44
I’m a fairly senior PS manager at a red-brick university, managing all aspects (e.g. recruitment, finance, training) of two PhD programmes. My predecessor and others I meet managing other programmes all seem to have PhDs - I don’t, just a Masters. PS seems to be a popular alternative to the short term contracts and insecurity of academia. I do work hard, including at weekends if needs be (will check in to my emails today), but probably less so than an academic. I started as a fairly junior PS staff member at a university and rotated around a few HE jobs including in academic quality. Having good knowledge of the HE experience generally is a great plus on your CV.
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