an academic career outside the UK – how to get started

As a UK-based researcher you might be interested in working in academia outside the UK, whether in a permanent role or just to broaden your experience before resuming a career at home. Given the international nature of the postgraduate student body, the fact that employers recruit globally to academic and research posts and the long tradition of British PhDs undertaking post-docs abroad, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find someone in your own institution who’s been there and can advise you on how to go about looking for a job in your chosen country.  However, the fact that someone has worked in a particular country’s higher education system won’t always mean that they have accurate and up-to-date information on things like career structures, salaries and recruitment practices. So, a good resource for finding this kind of information is the European University Institute’s (EUI) ‘Academic Careers Observatory’ which currently provides information on academic careers in all the states of the EU plus 12 non-EU countries (e.g. China, India, Russia, USA). The topics the website has information on include:

  • entry requirements (including restrictions affecting non-citizens);
  • vacancy sources;
  • the career structure;
  • pay and conditions;
  • recruitment and selection procedures;
  • the level of competition for jobs.

If you’re hoping to work somewhere in the so-called ‘Anglosphere’ (Australia, Canada, USA, etc.) the websites of the leading universities in those countries can also be a useful resource, especially if you’re looking for detailed information on employers’ expectations with regard to academic CVs and other documents used in the selection process (e.g. research statements, teaching statements, etc.). For example, Brown University, one of the USA’s ‘Ivy League’ institutions, produces a recruitment pack of helpful materials aimed at doctoral graduates looking for a first academic position. If your focus is on the EU, the Euraxess site has up-to-date vacancy information and is particularly useful if you’re looking for a post-doc position or fellowship. Getting an academic job that will allow you to continue to carry out high-quality research is never going to be easy, no matter where you look. But the resources mentioned above should help you to decide what you need to do in order to maximise your chances of success across system and process variety.

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