Working Abroad as an Academic

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A career as an academic often comes with the opportunity to spend some, or all, of your career working abroad.  But what should you consider before making the big move?

  1. Institutional Reputation
    It is important when considering such a big move that you carry out thorough research, especially when considering a country you are not as familiar with. Check out the QS world university rankings at topuniversities.com which you can filter by country and compare against similar institutions worldwide.   However, don’t forget to consider new universities – there may be more job opportunities and the chances to make an impact, for example in setting a research agenda, may be more readily available.  You may also wish to look at satellite universities of institutions based in the UK.   There may be opportunities for a job swap arrangement which can help you to see if this is the right decision before you fully commit to a permanent move abroad. 

  2. Country Research
    One of the biggest steps is to decide which country you are interested in living in. You can also assess how far your potential salary will go as well as finding out visa requirements. Don’t assume that your standard of living will be better – this may be true in some areas, such as China and the middle east, but perhaps not on the west coast of the US where the cost of living is significantly higher.
     
  3. Visas
    This is one of the biggest issues you might face when considering working abroad but as an academic you are in a much stronger place than most people considering a move overseas. Often the institution you are applying to will work this out for you – but if you are taking a family with you it can be more complicated.  It might take several months to work out the paperwork so give yourself plenty of time. 

  4. Is it the right decision?
    It can be very tempting to head off for the sunshine but you need to carefully consider the implications of moving abroad. Some things to consider:

    1. Many universities work on a tenure system and this may have an impact on your career progression.
    2. You may find you miss your academic network of colleagues in other UK institutions and it may take some time to build this up again.
    3. Will language be a barrier? English is widely spoken at internationally focused universities and many lectures will be in English – however, chat in the hallways and at department meetings is more likely to be in the local language and you may struggle to create a new network if you are not proficient. 

  5. Where are the jobs advertised?
    One of the most obvious places to look is on the jobs.ac.uk job listing boards but don’t forget to check the websites of the institutions you are most interested in as not all opportunities will be advertised globally. Be very wary of using a service that charges you a fee for connecting you with potential employers – remember that head hunters charge the employer not the potential recruit. 

  6. How do you get the job?
    Presenting yourself as an internationally focused employee is crucial. Consider where you are submitting papers and which conferences you speak at – ensure you can present a global CV.  Make sure your online presence is up to date – make the most of LinkedIn and academic research sharing sites.  Remember that different countries have different formats for their standard CVs.

  7. Good luck with your job search!

 

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