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I am a professor of physics and just moved to the UK with my wife, who is British. I anticipate that it will take a year or so to find a faculty position matching my field of expertise. To avoid being idle during this period, I would like to apply for any possible job to be in academia.

As I checked, many administrative jobs are available in the UK universities, and the process seems quick (the interviews are normally scheduled for 2 weeks after the deadline).

Since I have worked as a department head for years with many industry collaborations, I thought I might have a chance at administrative jobs like director of small units such as enterprise, partnership, academic excellence, etc.

I understand that people with the same line of experience are rationally preferred, but I wonder if there are specific administrative jobs for which faculty experience is an advantage and the committee will be happy to consider such applications.

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    If this is not about the money, can’t you do some research as a visiting or sabbatical professor? – Wrzlprmft Aug 31 '17 at 9:07
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    It's a slightly tangential point, but Professor of Physics is a slightly confusing job title in connection with Commonwealth countries. Are we correct in reading this as "permanent faculty with teaching experience"? – origimbo Aug 31 '17 at 13:21
  • What @origimbo said - in the UK you don't apply for the job title of "professor", you get awarded the title eventually (maybe after 20 years in academia) on the basis of what you have done during that time. In other words, it's a very senior academic title, compared with some other countries. – alephzero Aug 31 '17 at 13:39
  • @origimbo in some countries such as the US, academics who teach might be generally referred to as professor, but still, professor is not their job title (lecturer, assistant professor, adjunct professor, etc). I believe, the job title of professor has the same meaning, equivalent to full professor. – Googlebot Aug 31 '17 at 16:35
  • @herman -- what country were you a professor in? – Wolfgang Bangerth Sep 1 '17 at 3:11
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I feel this is a question that's almost better suited for The Workplace. My fear in your case would be that you, having been a department head previously, are seen as vastly overqualified for almost every non-leadership administrative position (and leadership positions tend to not be filled as quickly as you mention). It may appear surprising to meritocracy-oriented academics, but people are generally not prone to hire overqualified staff - motivation and job satisfaction can become issues, and they are expected to not stay on long (as you yourself also don't intend to do).

That being said, I can't help but wonder whether you have any contacts in the UK that you can activate. Maybe there is some temporary administrative role that would suit your skill set, or a temporary teaching position in courses related to your experience. To me, that seems like a more promising shot than blindly applying to regular administrative posts, and hoping that the hiring team sees your very unconventional background as a positive.


As a sidenote, I also wonder why you are confident that you will find a faculty position in a year unless you already have one lined up. As I understand it, senior-level hires in the UK are a pretty rare and long-running processes, and hoping for one within a year, which you then also need to win, seems to be putting a lot of eggs into a very specific basket. If you already have one lined up, talk to the people there about some temporary contract in the meantime.

  • Regarding your sidenote: One department at my university is looking for a new department head for some years already now (exchanging the substitute head every now and then) and the process might well take a few more years. Thus, I totally agree that getting a faculty position, or even one as department head, might take far longer than a year if you just start looking now. – Dirk Aug 31 '17 at 9:07
  • Re: The Workplace, see Why do companies not want to hire over qualified people? – David K Aug 31 '17 at 12:04
  • I echo the sentiment in the final paragraph – Yemon Choi Aug 31 '17 at 23:43

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