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I am an academic with hoping for an offer at an Oceania university. I want to know how common in this system is it to ask the university to give my spouse a job? It is common and often successful in the U.S. universities, but I don't know in the Oceania (which is largely the same as the British) system.

  • Just a small clarification is needed. Australia has very few universities in comparison to the US (total estimates for AU are around 40-45 while US is over 2000). Australia does tend to situated most of its universities in the major cities as you've suggested (also based in Melbourne), so there is opportunity to work at a different university in the same city, especially in Melbourne! – user32655 Apr 4 '15 at 3:23
  • academia.stackexchange.com/questions/42454/… – user32728 Apr 6 '15 at 3:55
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My experience on this is more anecdotal, but perhaps it will be helpful.

In Australia, I've certainly known plenty of couples that work at the same university. I can also think of a few where I imagine a package arrangement was organised (although I don't know details). Equally, I can think of cases where academics have left a department because the department decided to no longer employ their spouse (i.e., they moved to a new university that would employ their spouse). The ease of making such arrangements depends on how desirable you and your spouse are as academics. It certainly helps if at least one member of the couple is a super star, and the other member is at least competitive.

Another general point is that Australia has a lot of universities. In particular, if you are in Melbourne or Sydney (and to a lesser extent other major cities) then you would have six or so reasonable universities to work with. So I also know a lot of couples in the university sector who are able to solve the two-body problem by working at different universities in the one city.

  • Just a small clarification is needed. Australia has very few universities in comparison to the US (total estimates for AU are around 40-45 while US is over 2000). Australia does tend to situated most of its universities in the major cities as you've suggested (also based in Melbourne), so there is opportunity to work at a different university in the same city, especially in Melbourne! – awsoci Mar 28 '15 at 4:39
  • Tanks for your answers. My question was not specific to the case in which both of them are in academia (at least ph.d.s and wishing to go for assistant prof/lecturer positions). What about one spouse is ph.d. with an offer for lecturer/senior lecture position and the other with a master's degree and teaches undergrad level courses at university level, or some doing sort of administration work which may also be applied to university businesses. – John Mar 28 '15 at 21:18
  • @John I'm not as familiar with this scenario. However, I imagine that it would be easier for a university to accommodate a spouse as administrative worker than an academic. But the flip side is that administrative staff at a university could probably find work in a whole host of organisations outside of academia. – Jeromy Anglim Apr 4 '15 at 10:18
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    @John As a lecturer / senior lecturer you will be quite possibly required to do the undergraduate courses. Based on what experience do you suggest that a university will hire someone without a PhD on a full-time position to do courses? This seems quite unlikely to me. – o4tlulz Apr 6 '15 at 4:48
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    @o4tlulz, It is fairly common in the US to hire a spouse with a masters degree (and some teaching experience), for example, to teach low level undergraduate courses (e.g., calculus/physics/chemistry/biology 101, etc.). You don't need a PhD to teach these courses. Oceania universities, same as the british universities, do seem to have positions such as 'assistant lecturer' or 'tutor' in various departments. They are not necessarily meant for PhDs. My question is, whether these universities consider spouses for such positions as they do in the US. – John Apr 6 '15 at 17:42
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I don't think there will be any specific policy regarding this - it depends on how desirable you are. I have a colleague who was head-hunted from overseas who's wife was given an administrative position; however this is not quite the same scenario.

If you are applying for a Associate Professor/Professor position, I think you would have a decent chance. Anything else would be unlikely, or simply depend on how congenial your (future) boss is, and whether positions within the department are available.

  • In the US, many universities have formal policy for 'spousal hiring'. You mean to say there is no specific spousal hiring policy in the oceania? – John Apr 6 '15 at 17:44

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