by Sarah Marten
Experience gained working in a university overseas is really worthwhile. Your promotion prospects back in the UK will usually be improved. You will also gain so much from the broader perspective that working overseas provides.
Here are some of the benefits:
The opportunity to develop international links
- Research Projects
Dr Karl Cox has recently returned to the UK after working at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia in the School of Computer Science and Engineering. He is now Senior Lecturer in the School of Computing, Mathematical and Information Sciences at the University of Brighton
“Working in Australia has been hugely beneficial to my career back in the UK. I was also given the opportunity to visit Japan, which has enabled me to develop collaborative links with industry and universities there which will benefit the University of Brighton.
I developed a special interest in climate change and water supplies whilst in Australia. I am now helping to develop a carbon management strategy for the University of Brighton.”
The chance to write and develop new courses
Lecturers sometimes feel that they are being thrown in at the deep end when they accept a post in an overseas University, and have to prepare new courses at short notice. However this can have its benefits.
Dr Josko Brakus was Assistant Professor at the prestigious Simon Graduate School of Business at the University of Rochester. He now works at Brunel University in their Business School as a Lecturer in Marketing:
“I was able to bring all my lecture notes, slides and other materials back with me to the UK, which enabled me to start teaching at Brunel University straight away. This, alongside my track-record of successful research and experience gained in a prestigious American university helped to ensure my credibility with colleagues in Britain.”
Improving your research
Working overseas may be beneficial to your research:
- Overseas Universities often have prestigious research profiles
- You will often have the opportunity to publish work in esteemed journals
- Attending international conferences to present your research will also benefit your career.
A broadening of horizons
Working overseas brings a new perspective. Dorette Morgan participated in an exchange between the HR departments at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand and the University of Bristol:
“Working in New Zealand was a fantastic thing to do. It certainly broadened my horizons and made me see things differently. The experience also increased my self-confidence and gave me an awareness of another culture.”
Fast-track your career
Universities overseas often provide more responsibility earlier in your career. Dr Clive Sabel was Senior Lecturer in Geographical Information Systems at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand:
“My post at the University of Canterbury undoubtedly gave me far more responsibility than would have been possible at this level in the UK, which subsequently helped to fast-track my career on returning to Britain. Designing courses, sitting on university-level committees and working with industry have all given me invaluable experience that my contemporaries working back in the UK probably did not have.”
A better understanding of international students
You can make a real difference to the student experience for those coming from the country you have worked in.
Dr Julie Whitfield was Tourism Lecturer/Coordinator of Post Graduate Studies for the Institute for Tourism Studies in Macau, SAR, China. She is now based back in the UK and is working at Bournemouth University as Lecturer in Events Management.
“We have been able to welcome students from the IFT onto our Master’s programme in Event Management here at Bournemouth University. Working in Macau has enabled me to have a much greater understanding of the issues these students may face during the transition to life as a student in the UK.”
The opportunity to learn new languages
Learning a new language may not be essential in your work. However, if you do have this opportunity you will reap the benefits.
Richard Hewitt was a senior lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire and course leader for the franchised BA Hons degree course in International Business Communication at the University of Electronic Science and Technology in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China
“When I arrived in China I did not speak a word of Mandarin, but being a linguist I saw this as an exciting challenge and was determined to learn to communicate with local people as quickly as possible. I didn’t go to formal language classes, but learned by mimicking and visiting local markets and restaurants to listen to the languages and work out what people were saying.
Clearly learning Chinese languages was a great challenge, but if I had not made the effort I would have missed out a great deal.”
Other things to consider:
- Working overseas may provide the opportunity to make a difference, perhaps with green or development issues, and is less about personal gain
- International experience is often expected if you want promotion in the UK and is a great addition to your CV
- Experience of a different culture can inform both teaching and research