University Departmental Administrator

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Administrators in UK universities play a vital role in the institution. The role of administrator is both a challenging and varied field of work.

There are two types of university administrator: those who work in central admin, and those who work in specific university faculties or departments. This job profile focuses on departmental administrators and their day-to-day tasks.

The duties devolved to departmental administration vary from university to university.


The duties of a departmental administrator include being the main point of contact for both staff and students. This requires the ability to deal with a variety of tasks,  including course transfer requests, queries regarding workloads, and details of PG/UG degrees.

Departmental admin also takes care of the faculty finances, including financial planning and monitoring. Other secretarial duties are also involved, such as coordinating staff meetings. Caring for the department’s website may also come under an administrator’s remit, so IT skills are useful.

As an administrator, you will be dealing with publicity, events and complaints. Overall duties include:

  • Dealing with student and staff queries
  • Financial forecasting and reporting
  • Arranging exams
  • Student registration and course transfers
  • Timetabling
  • Attending and chairing academic and general staff meetings
  • Planning departmental events

Entry Criteria:

Departmental administration roles require excellent organization and communication skills. IT skills are also a must, as software such as Excel, Word and website packages such as Sitebuilder.

You should have the ability to work under pressure, and at certain times of the year you will be expected to put in long hours to meet deadlines and handle heavy workloads.

  • Motivated and organized
  • Ability to communicate to both staff and students and to be discreet
  • Thrives under pressure
  • IT skills
  • Secretarial and clerical skills

Getting qualified:

Lower-level administrative staff are not required to have a university degree. These roles are fairly typical secretarial or clerical posts. Applicants should be educated to A-level standard.

Senior administrative roles require the applicant to have an undergraduate degree, preferably in the subject of the department.

The application process involves completing an application form, attending an interview, and possibly making a brief presentation showing some project-management skills or other relevant abilities.

  • Degree not required for secretarial or administrative assistant posts
  • Degree is preferred for senior administration roles
  • IT qualifications are desirable
  • Knowledge of the HE sector is essential
  • Some knowledge of the department’s subject area is beneficial

Salary Information:

  • Basic roles have a starting salary of c. £14,000
  • Senior roles begin at around £22,000
  • Starting salary varies depending on location, role, and experience
  • Salaries progress beyond £40k for more senior positions
  • Basic hours are 9am to 5pm
  • Overtime is often required, particularly in the busy parts of the year
  • Weekend work required occasionally depending on role and institution

Career Path:

Department Administrators can progress into more senior roles, or move into management. Course Leaders and Heads of Department sometimes come from administrative backgrounds.

Sideways moves are common in university administration, so moving to other departments or into central administration may be wise at some point in your career. Relocating to other institutions is also a valued way of developing your career and gaining more experience.

Major Employers:

  • Higher Education institutions in the UK

Similar Jobs:

  • Central University Administrator
  • UG/PG Admissions Officer
  • Careers Advisor
  • Head of Department 

Case Studies:

University of Warwick Department Administrator

Links and Contacts:

Association of University Administrators

Professional qualifications

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