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Opportunities for researchers in the education sector outside of academia

By uczjvwa, on 22 May 2014

If you love the Education Sector, but want to move away from pure research, then there are a number of interesting possibilities available.

The first is public engagement, which is a complicated beast.  It is hard to find two people with the same definition of this area and it encompasses a range of work and roles. Broadly speaking, it is a range of activities which involve the public in the work of a university (or other organisation).  It normally has one of four aims:

  1.  Inspiration – This involves activities such as going into schools to inspire and educate students/teachers about higher education generally, or a specific subject (STEM/Physics/Maths etc). It can also involve working with current undergraduates at your university who work as ambassadors for their subject/institution.
  2. Education – This involves explaining the work and research of an institution to the public either through talks, attending/organising large and small events (like the “Pint of Science” talks http://www.pintofscience.com/), dealing with the media and writing for a non-specialist audience.  
  3. Consultation – This involves meetings, attending user groups and public forums on local issues related to the University (everything from parking to vivisection).   
  4. Collaboration – working together with the public on particular issues local to the University or related to its work.

If this kind of role interests you, it is well worth looking beyond the standard Higher Education Institutions to find relevant employers.  For example, specialist organisations such as The Wellcome Trust, the Institute of Physics and The Royal College of Surgeons are involved in public engagement activities.  For more information, have a look at www.publicengagement.ac.uk

Another option is to get involved with the financial aspect of research.  One of the biggest headaches in research is often the struggle to win enough funding. Roles such as Grants Officer and Grants Applications Manager help by providing support to academics and departments in securing funding.

If you have a bit more of a commercial mind, then you could consider working in Knowledge Transfer. Most people think of this as just the commercialisation of research (getting patents, starting spinout companies and licencing intellectual property), but it is often much broader than that. It can involve the facilitation of collaboration between industry and research, the provision of consultancy (using experts within a university to help industry) and providing students and staff for placements or secondments into industry.

Finally, there are all the other roles which help to keep the education sector running smoothly, such as working in departments such as registry, admissions, exams, student support, library services and so on. All these departments support the running of a University and many jobs would suit those with a research background.

If you are interested in continuing in the Education sector outside of research then talk to people at your institution. There are people at UCL working in all these areas who can give you information and advice. If you find cold calling difficult, then come to events such as this one: https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-researchers/2014/04/29/the-education-sectors-many-possibilities-forum/         

Contrary to popular belief, there can be life outside research!

– Hilary Moor, Careers Consultant, Careers Group, University of London

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