Higher Education Lecturer

The Job and What's Involved

Higher education (HE) lecturers teach courses leading to higher national courses, awards, postgraduate and professional qualifications. They may teach academic or vocational subjects.

Teaching may be in the form of lectures (with large groups of people), seminars and tutorials (with smaller groups of people), practical laboratory demonstrations and fieldwork.

The work varies according to individual areas of responsibility and research, and may involve:

  • Designing, developing and preparing teaching materials.
  • Assessing students' coursework.
  • Marking exams.
  • Publishing their own research in books and journals.
  • Helping students with their academic and personal problems - known as pastoral work.
  • Administrative tasks, such as student admissions and organising induction programmes.
  • Managing and supervising staff.
  • Working with other universities, industry, and a range of other organisations.

Other duties can include:

  • Interviewing prospective students.
  • Checking the marking done by other lecturers (called moderating).
  • Managing work placements for students.
  • Attending meetings.
  • Helping new lecturers to settle in.
  • Working in consultancy.
  • Helping to get more people in the community involved in education.

Working hours can be around 37 hours a week, but lecturers are expected to work the hours necessary to get through their work. Long hours are common, but these can also be flexible. Some lectures and seminars take place in the evening. There are opportunities for part-time work.

Depending on the subject they are teaching, they may work in lecture theatres, classrooms, studios or laboratories. Some may have their own office; others share an office with other members of staff.

The starting salary may be around £25,565 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Higher Education Lecturers work mainly for universities and colleges of further and higher education. Some work in other institutions, such as law and business schools.

There are around 150 higher education institutions in the UK, and around 95,000 lecturers. Jobs can be found all over the UK, but competition can be high particularly in popular arts subjects. However, there are shortages in subjects such as engineering, construction and IT.

Jobs are advertised in The Times Higher Education Supplement, The Guardian (on Tuesdays) and The Independent (on Thursdays). There are also job advertisements on websites such as www.jobs.ac.uk and www.PhDjobs.com.

Education and Training

Higher Education Lecturers usually need:

  • A degree (a first class honours or 2:I). Lecturers teaching vocational courses such as accountancy or hotel and catering management often have professional rather than academic qualifications.
  • A PhD, or be working towards one.
  • Teaching experience, and the ability to carry out original research and have work published.

Entry qualifications for a degree are usually at least two A levels and five GCSE's (A-C) or equivalent qualifications.

Entry to postgraduate courses is normally with a first class honours or a 2:I in a first degree.

Some university students, who are doing research following their first degree, teach part time while doing their PhD, and may be paid an hourly rate or receive a grant, called a bursary.

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Most colleges offer in-house training for their staff. This could cover research techniques, administration, management skills, personal development and IT. There may also be the chance to take relevant courses outside the university.

A formal postgraduate teaching qualification has been introduced for Higher Education Lecturers. These are now compulsory in many colleges and are completed alongside the lecturer's normal working duties. They can be taken as modules, and cover practical skills and theories of learning. These courses are accredited by the Higher Education Academy.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A Higher Education Lecturer should:

  • Be capable of original thought.
  • Be able to carry out thorough research.
  • Be able to explain things clearly to people.
  • Have analytical skills.
  • Have excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Be able to inspire and motivate students.
  • Have good computer skills.

Your Long Term Prospects

During their first years, new lecturers normally concentrate on building up their teaching skills and experience. They are also expected to contribute to the research profile of the department by getting work published.

With experience in both lecturing and individual research, lecturers take on further responsibilities in teaching, research, administration or management. Those taking on more responsibility in management may have less student contact and also less time for research.

Progression to senior levels is to posts such as reader, chair, dean, head of department and professor. There may also be opportunities to work outside the university in areas such as consultancy, the media, publishing, and public speaking.

Get Further Information

The British Accreditation Council (BAC),
44 Bedford Row, London WC1R 4LL
Tel: 020 7447 2584
Website www.the-bac.org

The Higher Education Academy, Innovation Way,
York Science Park, Heslington, York YO10 5BR
Tel: 01904 717500
Website: www.heacademy.ac.uk

University and College Union (UCU),
27 Britannia Street, London WC1X 9JP
Tel: 020 7837 3636
Website: www.ucu.org.uk

Universities UK, Woburn House,
20 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9HQ
Tel: 020 7419 4111
Website: www.universitiesuk.ac.uk

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