Higher education administrator: job description

Higher education administrator: job description

Higher education administrators undertake a wide variety of supportive, administrative, secretarial, financial and human resources tasks within HE institutions.
HE administrators can work in a variety of areas, from HR to marketing.

What does a higher education administrator do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

HE administrators work within both the central administrative (academic registrars) department and for individual faculties of universities and other higher education establishments. There is no ‘typical' job profile: administrators may have roles in student recruitment, funding, quality assurance, marketing or public relations; or they may be responsible for budgetary/financial administration, project management or human resources management. Many work in a general capacity – undertaking tasks from all of these areas.

Typical responsibilities of the job include:

  • recruiting, training and managing staff
  • financial/budgetary administration
  • handling correspondence
  • organising and servicing committee meetings (producing agendas, taking minutes etc)
  • researching and writing reports
  • preparing statistics
  • liaising with external organisations
  • formulating and implementing regulations
  • timetabling
  • administering and coordinating student recruitment, examinations and assessment activities

The job can be busy at key points in the academic year, when some long hours may be necessary. There are good opportunities for career progression via promotion into senior administrative, managerial and project management roles, or transfer/secondment between departments. Higher education establishments also generally offer excellent and flexible working conditions.

There is strong competition for both entrance level and permanent jobs. Vacancies are advertised online, by careers services, in newspapers (particularly The Guardian), and in Times Higher Education.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into a career in higher education administration for both university graduates and school leavers.

A good honours degree, though not essential, is beneficial for entry into the profession. Qualifications in business, IT, information science, administration and management may be beneficial. Previous higher education, office or commercial work experience can also be helpful.

To find out how you can get into careers in this area via a school leaver route (eg an apprenticeship or school leaver training programme) see the Teaching and education section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

Key skills for higher education administrators

It is essential to possess good interpersonal, teamwork, IT, organisational, time management, negotiation and communication skills.