Higher Education: university jobs beyond academia

The top employer of University of Birmingham PGRs is…the University of Birmingham.

That often doesn’t come as a surprise, but what can be more surprising is the vast range of roles that PGRs go on to do at both Birmingham and at other universities. Many Birmingham PGRs have gone on to pursue a range of roles in Higher Education, including:

  • Marketing and student recruitment
  • Alumni Relations and Fundraising
  • Careers and Employability
  • Research Administration and Research Support: for example, supporting academics with applications for research funding and with composing REF submissions
  • Project Management
  • Business Engagement and Knowledge Transfer/ Technology Transfer: for example, supporting academics in taking their research to market, either by licensing their ideas and technologies to a partner organisation or setting up a spin-off company
  • Academic library services 

 Jobs like these in Higher Education are popular with PGRs for a number of reasons, including: 

  • You may enjoy working in a university environment or working with students, but may not feel that academia is for you
  • Spending time as a research student often gives you an insight into how the university ‘works’
  • You often have strong understanding of the student experience, especially that of Postgraduate Researchers
  • Roles like these may still offer the opportunity to be involved in research without the pressure of regular publication
  • Lecturers and other academic staff are often given administrative roles in their departments, such as admissions tutor, careers tutor etc. Experience in a non-academic role in Higher Education could therefore enhance your administration experience if you do eventually apply for academic jobs

Find out more about higher education

  • www.jobs.ac.uk is the most comprehensive bank of job vacancies at universities in the UK and around the world, covering a range of non-academic (as well as academic) jobs. Explore the ‘Professional / Managerial / Support Services’ section and sign up for alerts about jobs in areas that might interest you
  • Professional bodies: there are many UK professional bodies that represent those working in non-academic higher education roles. If you are looking for work outside the UK, other countries may also have equivalent organisations that are worth researching. They are often a useful source of sector information, news, advice and networking opportunities, so if you are interested in working in a particular non-academic area of higher education then it is worth doing some research to find out if there is a professional body relevant to that area. Organisations include:
    • Careers Support: AGCAS (Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services)
    • HELOA (Higher Education Liaison Officers Association)
    • Relations with industry and knowledge transfer: AURIL (Association for University Research and Industry Links) 

If you are interested in exploring more general, non-technical university management careers, there are also a number of training schemes available: 

  • UoB Graduate Training Scheme: The University of Birmingham has its very own Graduate Training Scheme especially for Birmingham graduates who are interested in entering the non-academic side of university management and affairs.  The programme comprises four placements in different areas of the University to give you exposure to a variety of roles and perspectives. Placements could be within central departments such as marketing, finance, student services and HR, or within individual academic schools and colleges
  • The Graduate Management Training Scheme at University of Warwick also welcomes graduates from other universities
  • IntoUniversity Graduate Trainee Education Worker Scheme:  IntoUniversity is a UK charity that helps disadvantaged young people gain a place at university. They run a graduate trainee programme for any graduates with a passion for widening young people’s access to higher education.

Higher education case studies


Professional Services