Teaching in the Higher Education sector is a varied role. Working with undergraduate and postgraduate students, it offers an opportunity to pass on your love of your subject, as well as to undertake research and make a significant contribution to the body of knowledge.
As well as the teaching aspects of the role, HE lecturers also offer pastoral support to their students.
PERSONAL QUALITIES AND SKILLS
- Self confidence
- The role of lecturer involves public speaking, sometimes in front of hundreds of people. You need the ability to speak engagingly on your subject.
- A genuine passion for your subject
- Pursuing a career in Higher Education will give you the opportunity to study your chosen subject at great depth, as well as passing on your knowledge to students. If you are not passionate about your subject, this is not the job for you.
- Organisational Skills
- There is a large amount of administrative work involved in HE lecturing, you need to be able to manage and prioritise your workload to ensure all of your tasks are completed.
- Verbal Communication Skills
- Not only do you need to be able to communicate with your students, the role also involves working with colleagues and professionals from other institutions. You need the ability to build rapport with others.
- Written Communication Skills
- A key part of the role is getting work published in academic journals, to promote your own profile and that of the institution. You need to enjoy writing about your subject and to be able to get articulate complicated and advanced concepts to your peers and students.
- Analytical Skills
- You will need to be able to analyse research data and critically evaluate the work of your students and your peers.
- The ability to work both cooperatively and independently.
- The role involves working in a range of contexts, from committee meetings to independent research. You need to be comfortable working in teams of all sizes.
A good degree (either a 2:1 or a 1st) in a relevant subject is essential. In addition, you need to either have, or be working towards a PhD, and be able to demonstrate both teaching experience and a track record in research and publication. For more vocational subjects, solid experience and expertise in the field is highly valued.
Often PhD students take on some teaching work as a Graduate Teaching Assistant to gain the relevant experience.
DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES
- Interacting with graduate and undergraduate students through tutorials, seminars and lectures.
- Upload resources and materials to a Virtual Learning Environment and participate with student discussions on the platform.
- Keeping up to date with current teaching methods and ensure that the quality of teaching is maintained.
- Developing own knowledge of the subject area.
- Developing and marking exams.
- Taking part in exam moderation activities.
- Coursework assessment.
- Taking on a pastoral role and supporting students through their time at the institution.
- Taking part in research projects, recruiting research assistants and supervising the research of students.
- Writing for academic journals and publishing research.
- Taking part in the admissions process for new students, and conducting interviews.
- Sitting on committees and taking part in meetings to support the development of the institution.
- Acting as an academic advisor to other members of staff.
- Taking part in summer schools and other outreach activities.
- Apply for and manage research grants.
- Taking part in academic activities such as staff training and conferences
- Representing the institution at Open Days.
SALARY RANGE AND BENEFITS
Salaries for Higher Education Lecturers depend on level of qualification and experience. Starting salaries are around £33,000 a year. Very experienced lecturers with management responsibility can earn up to £58,000 per year.
Pay rates vary from institution to institution and tend to be lower in FE Colleges.
HOURS OF WORK
HE lecturers tend to work long hours in term time. This may include some evenings. It is often possible to have some degree of control over your time table, for example when organising research activities.
It is possible to find part-time and hourly paid work. At the beginning of your career, finding permanent employment can be difficult and fixed-term or sessional (hourly) contracts are more common.
Sabbaticals are also available to pursue your research, after a suitable amount of time with one employer.
These figures are an indication only.
FINDING A JOB
The vast majority of HE jobs are in universities and colleges. In some specialised fields, for example law, there are also opportunities at postgraduate institutions. You can also consider working in an overseas institution.
The majority of HE institutions are state funded, but there is a small private sector.
Institutions often advertise vacancies on their websites.
INSERVICE TRAINING AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
You can expect a good level of training in line with the staff development policy of the institution. You will certainly be expected to keep up to date with developments in your field and include them in your teaching. Institutions are generally very supportive of staff who wish to take up further training.
You will normally be expected to study for a teaching qualification once you take up a post. This is an in-service qualification such as the Postgraduate Diploma in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (PGDipLATHE) which will develop and assess your teaching ability, based on your teaching practice. Institutions often run their own courses for staff. These courses are accredited by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and you can apply for fellowship of the academy. Find out more at HEA Fellowships.
In the initial stages of your career, you will need to build up your teaching experience and research profile. It is important to get your work published and contribute to the research profile of your department.
Some lecturers choose to take on additional responsibilities in research, administration or management. There is quite a well defined hierarchy of management in universities, although job titles may differ. Promotion is usually dependant on a good track record of published research and the ability to attract grant funding. As you move up the managerial ladder you will take on more managerial responsibility and spend less time in research and teaching.
Promotions can be difficult to get as they depend heavily on the finances of the university.
It is also possible to move into working as an examiner or an academic author. If you wish to move into the higher levels of management, you will need to be willing to relocate.
FIND OUT MORE
The University and College Union has lots of information https://www.ucu.org.uk/