Higher education administrator: job description

Higher education administrators support teaching staff and keep universities running smoothly by looking after organisational and financial tasks and projects.

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What does a higher eduction administrator do? | Starting salaries | Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Higher education (HE) administrators keep universities running. While lecturers and academic staff focus on teaching, administrators make sure that students and teaching staff are recruited, that new courses are developed and publicised, that lectures are scheduled, buildings are maintained and staff are paid. There’s no typical job or job title as the role covers a wide range of specialist areas.

HE administrators can work within a central administrative department or for individual faculties. In central administration, they could be involved in student recruitment, quality assurance, marketing, project management or human resources management. If they work in a faculty or department, they could be responsible for supporting teaching staff, organising events or keeping track of information and data. Either way, they’re likely to need to work with students and a wide of colleagues from other departments.

Typical duties include:

  • recruiting, training and managing staff
  • managing projects and keeping track of progress towards goals
  • managing budgets
  • responding to queries and correspondence
  • devising and following processes and procedures
  • working with student groups
  • gathering and analysing data
  • researching and writing reports
  • liaising with external organisations.

Starting salaries

University salaries are set according to a pay scale that’s agreed by unions annually. Salaries tend to be low – in an entry-level job, you’re likely to earn in the mid-to-high teens, according to the University and College Union.

However, there are other benefits of working for a university. For example, it’s common to work your way up from an entry-level role to a senior one via promotions and secondments. Universities are large organisations with many specialist roles, and it’s possible to build a wide range of skills on the job. Many universities also allow staff to study at discounted rates – or even for free.

Jobs are advertised on national newspapers’ websites, local sites and those of specialist publications such as the Times Higher Education . There are also specialist education recruitment sites.

Typical employers of higher education administrators

  • Universities.
  • Higher education institutions.

Qualifications and training required

You don’t usually need a degree to work in higher education administration, although if you’re seeking a specialist role (such as in PR , project management or HR ) a related degree will give you a head start.

A number of universities offer apprenticeships in a wide range of fields. However, skills and experience are just as important as qualifications.

Key skills for higher education administrators

  • Excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Organisational skills.
  • The ability to juggle multiple projects at once.
  • The ability to work with people from a range of backgrounds and with a wide range of needs.

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