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I want to work in ... a university


“Rabbit's clever," said Pooh thoughtfully.
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit's clever."
"And he has Brain."
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit has Brain."
There was a long silence.
"I suppose," said Pooh, "that that's why he never understands anything."

Professor giving lecture

Universities are large organisations and often rank amongst an area's top employers.The University of Kent, for example, employs over 2000 staff and Canterbury Christ Church University over 1500.

Universities offer career opportunities in many different fields, which can be divided into two main categories:

Academic careers

University lectureships usually combine the direct teaching of students with the opportunity to pursue your own research interests. Many positions also involve a significant amount of administration.

Academic staff are highly qualified, and a PhD is usually required by employers. University teaching jobs may be permanent or fixed-term, and many academics start their career on contract posts. See our pages on postgraduate study

Most vacancies for academic staff will be advertised in the Guardian, Times Higher Education and

Historians on Teaching university lecturers discuss the motivations, satisfactions and challenges of teaching history in higher education.

PROFILE: Lecturer in Higher Education

INVOLVES: Administration, teaching, marking, research, writing for publication, attending conferences.
EMPLOYERS: Universities & Higher Education Colleges
RELATED JOBS: lecturer in Further Education & technical colleges, teaching in secondary schools.
SATISFACTIONS: Imparting information & interest to others; following personal subject interest through research.
NEGATIVES: Work overload, the pressure to publish.
SKILLS: written & spoken communication, leading, analysing, investigating,
ADVANCEMENT: PhD - lecturer - senior lecturer etc.
DEGREE: Good Honours degree & PhD in your subject.
VACANCY SOURCES: Times Higher Education Supplement. The Guardian - Tuesdays
TIPS: Get a PhD. & develop a track record in research. Get advice from academic staff in your department. Most postdocs are likely to spend several years on temporary contracts before obtaining a permanent post. While some postgraduates will obtain a position as a lecturer in a higher education institution immediately after completing their PhD, this is increasingly rare. More typically they will start out as a Teaching Assistant/Research Assistant/Research Fellow. These will generally be temporary contracts lasting one, two or three years and may lead on to a permanent academic post, although there is no guarantee of this. Some of these posts will be abroad and the PhD market is very much an international one with postdocs. moving between countries.
See for a detailed job description


Academic support Lecture

Universities are like other major businesses in needing a variety of management and support roles to keep the organisation running smoothly. These roles include:

Vacancies in these areas may be advertised at national level in the Guardian, Times Higher Education and but, at entry-level grades, may only be advertised in local papers or on the individual university’s website.

Also see our pages on:teach


Vacancies and other useful links

Six professors of engineering were asked to sit in a helicopter and were then told that the helicopter was made by their own students.

All of them jumped out of the helicopter immediately except one who said, “If it’s been made by my students there's not a chance that it will even start!”


Last fully updated 2017

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