To HE or not
to HE?
Is a career in higher
education administration
right for you?

Heather Moyes
Emma Sabzalieva
To HE or not to HE…

About our talk today
 Sneak

preview of the content
 Answer the questions in our session outline:
...
To HE or not to HE…

The book
 Format
 Chapters
 Case

studies
To HE or not to HE…

Introduction
 First

book of its kind
 Entry routes into higher education
administration
 Being pr...
To HE or not to HE…

Working in a university
„It‟s a brilliant sector to work in and from a
point of view of having value ...
To HE or not to HE…

The „idea‟ of higher education
administration
 How

does administration fit into what
universities a...
To HE or not to HE…

Knowing how to develop your
skills and experience
„[Higher education is] a profession that is
crying ...
To HE or not to HE…
To HE or not to HE…

Enhance your skills and
experience
 Qualifications
 Continuing

professional development
 Personal...
To HE or not to HE…

Using networks to create
opportunities
„You can stand in a corner and look
scared… but then you just ...
To HE or not to HE…

Why are networks important
for HE administrators?
 Get

a better job
 Improve your ability to do yo...
To HE or not to HE…

The good manager
„You don‟t want the great minds, who are
looking into genome research and world
heal...
To HE or not to HE…

The “problem” of
management in universities
 Management

as a dirty word
 What‟s different about ma...
To HE or not to HE…

Mentoring and coaching
„[Coaching] is very tough. I met with our
chair of Council last week and she w...
To HE or not to HE…

Do you need a mentor or a
coach?
 The

value of mentoring
 How to get the most out of mentorship
 ...
To HE or not to HE…

Making positive career
choices
„I think it is important to consider what
success and happiness mean a...
To HE or not to HE…

Now what?
 Defining

career success
 Framing your decision-making
 Work-life balance
 Taking resp...
To HE or not to HE…

Key messages
 There

is such a thing as a career in higher
education administration
 Much depends o...
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Development and Skills Conference 2013: Emma Sabzalieva - to HE or not to HE

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  • Who we are, why write a bookDo some small group work throughout
  • Explain the format – our choice of chapters, what we hope to achieveUse of case studies – why use them, how we chose them, what we learnt. We selected 13 people working in a variety of roles at UK universities (some also have international experience) and interviewed them in 2013 specifically for this book. The interviews were semi-structured, meaning that we started with a pre-agreed list of topics and themes to cover but had the flexibility to tailor the questions as other ideas and discussions arose. Our case studies were chosen to offer a snapshot of the diversity within the sector: of institutional type, of regional location, role group, individual background and outlook and so on. Through these indicators we aimed to create as balanced a picture as possible, but we also quite conscientiously aimed to interview as many senior women as possible. It is still the case that staff at lower levels are more likely to be women – for example, 80% of staff classified as ‘administrators’ in English higher education institutions in 2010-11 were women (more senior categories include ‘manager’ – 53% women, ‘non-academic professionals’ – 59% women and ‘technician’ – 34% women (HEFCE, 2012). So by including senior women in our case studies, we hope to show how it is possible to progress and flourish in higher education administration.
  • First book specifically for people working in higher education administrationUnderstand your career prospectsHow to go about developing a career in the sectorSize of market:HESA stats: 200,000 in non-academic roles in the UK. One of reasons that the publishers liked it. Also because of a companion (sister) volume ‘Managing your academic career’ in the same series How do people get into higher education administration? [Ask people to shout out]Common theme of surprise! Which we hope the book will help changeBook talks about entry routes; won’t go into here as you’re all already in the sectorUse of word ‘administrator’ – we want to reclaim it!Not ‘manager’ or ‘management’ – don’t want to exclude early career people; also recognising that not everyone in HE manages people or services… and the stigma in some circles in saying you’re a manager!Not ‘professional services’ – suggests some services aren’t professional!Not ‘non-academic’ – creates a negative identity whilst we’re trying to clearly carve something more positive
  • Small group discussion: what is it that’s different about working in a university? What’s great? What are the challenges?
  • Chapter covers the idea of a university – what they are, what they are for and then considers what universities are like as workplaces. We look at the organisational culture(s) that exist and then focus on the place of administration in higher education, which is what we’ll say a little more about today.Universities don’t exist to be administered! But what then does it mean that there are up to 200,000 administrators in the UK – or around 50% of the total staff population?Whereas universities used to share much of the ‘administrative burden’ out amongst the academic staff, increasingly that model has become unsustainable, resulting in a shift in staffing profiles in favour of the administration. Why has this happened?A shift from an elite to a mass (and thence to a ‘universal’ perhaps (Trow, 2006)) model of higher education against a backdrop of increasing regulation, resulting in a much larger and more complex student body, the coordination and management of which can no longer be handled effectively by those also tasked with delivering the academic agendaIncreased pressure on universities to become more ‘business-like’ by adopting private sector practices across the board, resulting in greater focus on listening to the needs of customers, growing reputational capital, managing ‘talent’ and demonstrating value for money, as well as on executive decision-making (Santiago et al, 2006): enter the Student Advisor, the Marketing Manager, the Human Resources Business Partner, the research commercialisation specialist and the policy adviser, as well as – more recently – outsourcing (of catering, student accommodation) and, more recently still, the idea of shared services (usually suggested in relation to payroll); Reduced but much more directive state funding for higher education, combined with an increased obligation to account for how that funding is used, resulting in new roles and specialisms to deliver and report upon new duties. In the UK, for example, we now have Visa Advisers to help students navigate the rapidly changing world of immigration and Compliance Officers to report back to the government on international students’ attendance and completion rates. We also employ staff to collate annual returns to the Higher Education Statistics Agency and to bring novel research ideas to market.Largely externally imposed changes – so to some extent it’s not been a conscious choice by universities to invest in administration. And on top of that, many administrators now have specialist knowledge and expertise that may be interpreted as undermining treasured notions of academic freedom, be that by challenging how academics spend their time (e.g. by suggesting increased student contact hours, improved (as in more) student feedback, or greater engagement (more with industry) or by sullying the purity of the quest for new knowledge by focussing on short-term returns on investment (e.g. by setting research income targets, questioning the ‘viability’ of Master’s programmes or championing ‘income stream diversification’). The trend towards increased specialisation of roles within university administration is reflective of what has been happening in society more generally e.g. increase in the number of job roles now described as ‘professions’ – for example in engineering, accountancy, nursing, human resources, information technology, project management, counselling, coaching There are professional bodies now in HEA – AUA and specialist bodies, and these bodies support the view of a move to ‘professionalise’ higher education administration in the sense of identifying common knowledge and behaviour frameworks. But does that make us a profession?We think there is value in the idea of HEA as a profession: we suggest that there is a body of knowledge and a set of common standards that those engaged in the business of supporting universities should share, regardless of their particular specialist expertiseSo perhaps, then, the value of having an ‘idea’ of higher education administration may be its capacity to root such staff in the idea of the ‘university’ itself?
  • Small group discussion: Do you know what your skills/knowledge gaps are? If you don’t, how will you work that out?
  • What do we mean by career success? These are the components we think go into it.
  • The most important thing for developing your skills and experience is to be self-reflective and/or have these conversations with your line manager, coach/mentor in a non-critical but realistic way. None of us are perfect and can always improve.Don't forget that behaviours are as important as hard skills.Professional development helps you better able to do your current job to the best of your ability - having a good reputation (or brand) is critically important, your reputation really does proceed you.You must take a personal responsibility for your development, your institution can support you in various ways but it is your development.Don't just rely on in-house training, think about external courses that give you hard skills, qualifications or undertake voluntary work to give you extra responsibility that would be hard to gain internally e.g. you can often become Board members or even Chair of Boards before you reach senior management at your institution.Make the most of the AUA or other appropriate professional bodies. There are multiple opportunities to get involved to help you develop and importantly to give something back to the sector.
  • This chapter analyses the many ways that the word 'network' can be understood in our context of higher education administration, and will get you thinking about why networks are important to you. We think this is especially relevant in the UK setting. Then equips you to use your networks to enhance both your working life more generally and your career development more specifically. We consider how some of the senior higher education administrators we interviewed understand and use networks such as informal networks, professional associations like the AUA and virtual networks (email mailing lists, social media – though this was varied in take up. LinkedIn and Twitter were favoured, Facebook wasn’t).The chapter does a bit of mythbusting too: 1)Networking isn't always a separate ‘thing’ – and it doesn't have to involve wine receptions2) Networking isn’t a new phenomenon and it's not all about FacebookFocus today on the why networks are important in our context. In small groups, can you discuss where you think value can be added by you having networks and using them?
  • Why networks are important – some of the things we came up with.[B] Get a better job - perhaps, the most obvious objective for much networking activity[B] Improve your ability to do your current job - If you’re not seeking to change job right now, networks can enhance your ability to do your current role. Duke (2001) argues that contemporary universities are a lesson in managing complexity, and that to cope with complexity and change, collegiality and networking styles have to be placed above managerialism[B] Get to know other people, and let them get to know you -if you’ve got a question or want to find something out, you’ve got a broader group of people you can turn to[B] Understand the wider higher education sector – opportunities to get out of the institution, put your issues into context and realise that either everybody's having the same issues that you are [B] Develop and share good practice– networking as public as well as private good[B] For managers: reinforce your team’s skills - Managers should not be afraid to let people in their teams actively network: if people feel empowered and they feel marketable, and they feel good at their job, actually they're more likely to stay with you in some waysWhat networks do senior HEAs use?No particular trend; a lot depends on the individual and their role in the organisation. But we did identify three key types1) Informal networks - The importance of informal networks came up again and again in our interviews. Such networks may not be permanent or established groups, so serve a different function from professional associations. They can encompass a wide range of purposes but quite often it’s simply about having someone you can contact to ask for advice or for information. As such, this type of network can help you consolidate in the role you are currently in. Informal connections therefore act as facilitators and enablers, and can help you do your current job better but also get from where you are now to the next step. And, as Dulworth says,'peer-to-peer networking is the antidote to professional isolation' (2008, p.101).2) Professional associations – discussed in detail in previous chapter on skills & experience. These associations also work in parallel with informal networks to achieve similar aims: to improve how you operate in your job, and as opportunities to get yourself known with a view to career progression. One interviewee said: “I’ve met a couple of future bosses through CASE so that’s worked out well. Now that I’m more senior, I do a lot through CASE because I’m talent spotting. I enjoy being around advancement people, but it also serves me well to know a whole bunch of people because it helps me find other people and it helps me know who to talk to about things.”3) Virtual networks – email groups/mailing lists; social media. On email, an interviewee says: “it’s a useful way of keeping in view what discussions are going on in the sector so in that sense these mailing lists add value because you can read them very quickly, you can filter them, you can plant them in your head and know what's happening externally. And you can do that and stay in the office!”. Social media: main ones mentioned were LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs – Facebook didn’t feature at all.
  • Small group discussion: what do you look for in a manager? (what do you do if you don’t get that?)
  • Talk about cultural objections to idea of “management” in university context – why these might exist and what challenges it presents for those on the administrative sideHow management tends to work in universitiesDifferent types of line management relationship and how to get most out of them – academic as manager, dotted line relationships, embedded staff, matrix managementGood and bad managers and what you can learn from them for your own practice
  • Small group discussion: have you had a mentor – official or unofficial? OR – if you could have a mentor or coach what would it be on?
  • MentoringMentors can help you reflect on specific issues using their experience to help you.If you think you'd benefit from a mentor you can either join your institutions programme if they have one, or use your networks to approach someone. Most people will say yes!However, you should have something specific you want to discuss, a mentee that 'thinks it s a good idea' but doesn't really have much to discuss is not a good position to be in.Make sure you agree a process with a mentor at the beginning of a relationship. And, if it isn't working - sometimes personalities just don't 'gel' - walk away.To all the women in the room it's probably more effective to have a more senior male mentor and this may be especially important the more senior your are, as they generally have more power in the institutions.If you've benefited from a mentor don't forget to return the favour!
  • Small group discussion: you’ve heard our talk – you can’t do everything at once – so what is the next thing you’re going to do to develop your career?
  • Key messagesYou can have a career in HE administration… but to do so…You need to be committed about doing soYou have to be proactive about finding opportunities, although luck plays a partYou need to be well skilled You need to understand the contextYou may need to consider moving institutions to develop your careerYou may face some other tough choices along the way
  • Development and Skills Conference 2013: Emma Sabzalieva - to HE or not to HE

    1. 1. To HE or not to HE? Is a career in higher education administration right for you? Heather Moyes Emma Sabzalieva
    2. 2. To HE or not to HE… About our talk today  Sneak preview of the content  Answer the questions in our session outline:    Did I make the right choice? How do I progress from my current role? What can I do to develop a long term career in the sector?  What we learnt about higher education administration along the way
    3. 3. To HE or not to HE… The book  Format  Chapters  Case studies
    4. 4. To HE or not to HE… Introduction  First book of its kind  Entry routes into higher education administration  Being proud to be an administrator
    5. 5. To HE or not to HE… Working in a university „It‟s a brilliant sector to work in and from a point of view of having value to society, it must be one of those ones which is hard to beat… So I suppose my advice would be: if that is something that‟s important to you – purpose and values – this sector might well fit you.‟
    6. 6. To HE or not to HE… The „idea‟ of higher education administration  How does administration fit into what universities are for?  Why are there more administrators now?  What does this mean for higher education administration as a profession?
    7. 7. To HE or not to HE… Knowing how to develop your skills and experience „[Higher education is] a profession that is crying out for well-qualified, intelligent individuals and I think that it is a very rewarding career... Universities are changing: there is an awful lot more pressure on universities now to be smarter. Running universities well is becoming increasingly important and we need good people to do it.‟
    8. 8. To HE or not to HE…
    9. 9. To HE or not to HE… Enhance your skills and experience  Qualifications  Continuing professional development  Personal Development Plan  Gaining experience
    10. 10. To HE or not to HE… Using networks to create opportunities „You can stand in a corner and look scared… but then you just get all the other scared people. Sometimes that can be beneficial and sometimes it can't… I have to admit I'm not one of these people who can just walk into a room and command it, it's just not my style, but I take a deep breath and I go and say hello to people.‟
    11. 11. To HE or not to HE… Why are networks important for HE administrators?  Get a better job  Improve your ability to do your current job  Get to know others, and let them get to know you  Understand the sector better  Develop and share good practice  (For managers) Reinforce your team‟s skills
    12. 12. To HE or not to HE… The good manager „You don‟t want the great minds, who are looking into genome research and world health and relationships between Islam and the West, spending hours poring over their balance sheet wondering where the photocopying costs have gone. But somebody‟s got to worry about where the photocopying costs have gone!‟ MAY CHANGE QUOTE
    13. 13. To HE or not to HE… The “problem” of management in universities  Management as a dirty word  What‟s different about management in a university context?  Types of management relationship in universities  Getting the most out of your management relationships
    14. 14. To HE or not to HE… Mentoring and coaching „[Coaching] is very tough. I met with our chair of Council last week and she was very supportive. She said we all want you to succeed; we‟ll give you all the support you need to succeed. The VC, especially, is absolutely determined that I‟m going to be a world class Registrar and all the rest of it, which is wonderful [...] but it‟s tough and good coaching should be tough.‟
    15. 15. To HE or not to HE… Do you need a mentor or a coach?  The value of mentoring  How to get the most out of mentorship  What‟s different about coaching?  When coaching might work for you and how to access it
    16. 16. To HE or not to HE… Making positive career choices „I think it is important to consider what success and happiness mean and to recognise that your view of what this means may change over time. I think it‟s about being comfortable with yourself. You need to think about what you‟d gain by moving job at any time.‟
    17. 17. To HE or not to HE… Now what?  Defining career success  Framing your decision-making  Work-life balance  Taking responsibility
    18. 18. To HE or not to HE… Key messages  There is such a thing as a career in higher education administration  Much depends on you  Importance of knowledge and skills  You may face some tough choices along the way

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