This article explores the issues surrounding working in an academic teaching career in a foreign country. It talks about why you might consider international teaching and offers some tips on how to secure a job abroad. If you are worried about the practicalities of planning a move, here is some advice for you!
Early planning stages: Why look for work overseas?
These are some reasons why you might want to move which we will call ‘push factors’ and ‘pull factors’. Push factors are the reasons why you want to leave your own country and pull factors and the issues that attract you to somewhere else.
Push factors might include:
- There are few jobs in your field being advertised at home
- Academic life in your own country leaves you unfulfilled for some reason
- You want a change of scene because you feel that your career has stagnated
Pull factors might include:
- There are more jobs in your field
- The working environment is more attractive
- The ratio of wages to outgoings is more favourable
- There are more experts in your field based in that area
- You have the chance of increasing your scholarly reputation
When you have decided that a move is definitely an option, how do you go about securing a job abroad?
- Find out where academic jobs are advertised. Many overseas jobs are advertised on www.jobs.ac.uk but there are also other country-specific jobs boards that might be relevant to your search such as www.chronicle.com for US academic positions.
- Decide whether you want the move to be temporary or permanent. There are many temporary visiting professorships or temporary teaching vacancies available overseas. Some temporary research posts could also give you the opportunity of doing some guest lecturing at a local university or in a public education context.
- Research the academic environment in your chosen country. What are the key issues affecting the university sector? You will need to show any potential employers that you have a good understanding of their priorities and concerns. University World News gives a good initial overview of what’s happening world-wide.
- Find out what the hiring procedure will be. What does the university require in its application pack? For example, American universities like to see evidence of student evaluations of your teaching, whereas UK institutions rarely ask for these. Will you initially have a telephone interview or will you be invited to a campus interview immediately? What format will these interviews take?
- Talk to people who work in that country. Chances are if you fancy a move you already know some people who work there, if not then when you attend conferences try to identify potential contacts from that country. So discuss your options with them. If they work in your field they could be useful as referees too.