Although not actively looking for a job right now, I always try to keep up to date with market developments in the industry, just for my own reference. I recently noticed that university positions advertised on jobs.ac.uk this year are much different to previous years.
What are the differences?
Given that public spending has seen significant cuts this year and that universities are already feeling the pressure, there is a considerable shift in recruitment from purely administrative and operational roles to income-generating roles. Anything to do with alumni and development, research and services commercialization, business partnerships – in other words, anything with potential to bring in additional income in the near future – is on the rise. This is not to say that admin roles are not on offer anymore, but the current trend is to try and squeeze an administrator’s role into a broader, preferably income-generating, role. The reason is quite obvious: lower costs for the institution with the potential for some much needed extra cash.
What does this say about the industry?
In my opinion, higher education institutions are doing the same as private and other public organizations in their efforts to cope with the financial crisis and the consequent reductions in cash flow. The way I see things, the education industry is more successful than other industries in that they are generally trying to avoid mass redundancies and are cutting costs in a reasonable manner. At the end of the day, thinking about the shifts in recruitment patterns, the UK higher education industry seems to be showing flexibility, and quick adaptability to environmental changes. Instead of freezing new hires all together, as we have seen elsewhere, it is instead moving its focus towards roles that are thought to satisfy current financial needs. If nothing else, universities in the UK are challenging the assumption that public sector organizations are inflexible and slow to change.