JHEPM Volume 43, Issue 5 (2021)

Editors Peter Bentley and Carroll Graham take us through the fifth (and second last) issue for 2021 of the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management. Members can log in to read all the articles online, anytime.  In this issue there are six articles addressing employment and employability in tertiary education, for both professional and academic staff, from Australia and around the globe.

The early stage of an academic career typically entails job insecurity and high pressure to demonstrate one’s worthiness for a secure (‘tenured’) position. However, a perennial problem in many countries is the lack of a pathway to security. Davide Dusi and Jeroen Huisman examine a new career model in Belgium. It was designed to add security but has also led to risk averseness in new recruitment and favouring safer, jack-of-all-trades local inbreeds.

Fierce competition for academic jobs would appear to make university recruitment very easy, but universities must also compete for the best staff. Daniel Abell and Karen Becker investigate employer attractiveness for early career academics in Australia and identify five key factors influencing choice that may assist universities in differentiating their message to potential recruits.

Universities generally cannot compete with the private sector on wages but attract talent through non-monetary benefits. Ciara Smyth and colleagues examine flexible work arrangements (genuine flexibility, not the casualisation euphemism) at Australian universities. Flexibility may attract staff universities, but they identify inequity and arbitrariness in access for staff, particularly professional staff.

‘Third space’ staff navigate both academic and professional domains, supporting teaching, research and other strategic initiatives, many of which were previously the sole domains of academics. Cameron W. Smith and colleagues show that working across domains and boundaries in Canada requires managing complex “tacit rules” to deflect and defuse academic tensions.

If universities are not attractive employers, PhD graduates have other options. Indeed, having more PhD holders employed outside academe is often touted as a great way to improve their economic and social contribution. But what do we actually know about the career pathways of PhD graduates? Sally Hancock examines the situation of PhD employment in the UK three to four years after graduation and establishes the need for more data on this topic.

Finally, external engagement by universities is not new, but evaluation of the university ‘third mission’ is. Ryan Plummer and colleagues’ framework, methodology and assessment of community partnerships in Canada offers an important advancement in an era of performance-based funding.

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