Working in any university today brings opportunities to meet and work with a wide range of people, whether students, colleagues or the general public. This can bring enhanced levels of job satisfaction in addition to the knowledge that you are helping students to attain both educational and professional development.
This diversity has also added a great deal to the cultural life of universities that staff can tap into and make the most of.
A variety of opportunities exist no matter whether you work at an older or newer university. The benefits of university working life, such as options for further professional training and development as well as leisure facilities and pursuits, will be outlined in this article.
Professional development and training
Universities are good places to work in terms of keeping up to date professionally with relevant training offered no matter what your employment background and job role. The requirement to keep staff updated and well informed about legislative changes is taken very seriously indeed. Legislation includes, for example, Equal Opportunities and Health and Safety at work.
The latter is usually a prerequisite when new members of staff are recruited and forms part of their induction process. Each institution has its own arrangements in terms of emergencies, such as an outbreak of fire, but all must meet with national standards.
Apart from H&S induction sessions, regular updates are offered with opportunities to pursue these further should staff wish to do so, such as working towards a First Aid Certificate. Courses are usually provided on campus at convenient times thus making it easier to attend. Being well informed about such issues is not only invaluable in the workplace but in wider life more generally so it’s an advantage to be able to attend such training.
Information and training around equality in the workplace are also provided so staff are informed about not only the aims of the legislation but also how to ensure compliance. If issues arise, staff are prepared and can access further help from the relevant departments. Once again, the knowledge and the options to tap into further training are useful not only in the workplace but also more generally.
There are also opportunities to gain further professional education, training and qualifications. Courses offered by the university may be open to staff enrolment, such as degrees and higher education teaching qualifications. There may even be staff discounts. In this way, staff can ‘learn while they earn’ and the courses they enrol are offered on campus, adding an element of convenience.
Linked to this are university library facilities. The diversity and wealth of books, journals, online resources and other learning materials is often vast and to have these to hand is a major benefit. This applies not only to staff who are undertaking further study but others interested in learning more about particular fields, or those who just want to take out a good book now and then for pleasure.
Libraries are often stocked with newspapers from other countries. This is ideal for those learning other languages but also for staff from outside the UK who wish to read familiar newspapers in their own language.
There are also the good links universities have with professional bodies to take into consideration and the opportunities for networking.
Cultural leisure facilities and cultural events
At the start of this article, the enhanced cultural aspects of universities were highlighted. Many universities have a wide variety of arts, music and other cultural programmes on offer to cater for all tastes. Some have purpose-built art centres with concert halls, theatres, cinemas and exhibition spaces.
Others might not have such dedicated spaces but have access to local ones in their areas and can use them to put on special events, such as student art shows or performances related to their coursework. Being a member of university staff can mean being aware of what’s coming up in terms of cultural events and activities, from small to large scale ones. The convenience aspect can be raised especially when events are offered on the campus where you work.
For those who enjoy sport, whether watching or participating in it and keeping fit, universities are good places to work. Some have their own gyms, sports tracks and swimming pools that are open for staff to use. No excuse for not keeping fit when an exercise space, and perhaps a class or two, are right there where you work!
If sports are not your leisure time priority, universities have an increasingly diverse range of cafes and restaurant on campus, or nearby, to enjoy. Things have moved on a long way since the days of the student refectory when the cuisine was very basic. Some very good places have opened offering staff a wide variety of choice whether for lunch or dinner with friends and family. Many of the popular coffee chains can also be found on campuses.
Overall, taking into consideration a wide range of professional opportunities alongside the leisure and cultural ones, universities as places to work have much to offer.