For many people across the UK, higher education is, and has been, their path to a fulfilling career, giving them the knowledge and abilities they need to enter their chosen industry and to thrive in their professional and personal lives.
The academics, lecturers, professors and PhD students that teach in higher education institutions help carve out that path for their students, and as such, these professionals are often regarded as the backbone of the academic world.
A career as a teacher in higher education is a multifaceted career, with plenty of opportunities to try out new challenges and develop new skills. It also allows teachers and lecturers to easily pursue a field that interests them through their chosen subject.
In this blog, we’re going to take a look at what qualifications and skills are needed to teach in higher education, as well as exploring the kinds of roles that are available to those looking to follow a higher education career path.
What roles are available in higher education? [i]
It takes a variety of different approaches to ensure the education a student receives at a higher education institution is as deep and as fully-formed as possible.
To achieve this standard of education, there are a number of teaching positions available that are available in higher education. These include:
Lecturer – Lecturers are academics who give lectures to students, teaching them course materials, giving lectures, holding tutorials, creating assessments and exams, marking those assessments and providing pastoral support where needed. They are chiefly responsible for the education of students and also play key roles in boosting student engagement and wellbeing.
Professor – Professors are the highest level that an academic can achieve within higher education. Professors carry out many of the same roles as lecturers, and their work also includes research within their field and the writing and publication of articles, theses and other scholarly contribution on behalf of their institution.
Head of department – Universities and other higher education institutions are made up of different departments for different degrees and subjects. The head of department is in charge of an individual department, overseeing teaching, enrolment management, modules, and other teaching staff to ensure the quality of education is kept consistently high. They may also assist in admin and pastoral care for students in difficult circumstances, acting as academic advisers to their departments.
What qualifications do you need to teach higher education?
For most careers teaching in higher education, you’ll need to have a good pass – either a 2:1 or a first- in a degree in the subject or field you intend to teach in.
With this degree in place, you’ll need to be studying towards achieving a PhD or master’s degree at the least. For certain degrees, teaching may be part of your studies, and you’ll earn a wage from this as you work.
You’ll stand a better chance if you already have one of these degrees in place, especially if you’ve had your research published in an academic journal. Additionally, a PGCAP, or Postgraduate Certificate Academic Practice, can give your application a boost – this teaching qualification, available with the University of Liverpool online PGCAP course, gives you the essential skills you’ll need to effectively teach within a higher education institution.
Where can you gain these qualifications?
The only way you can get these qualifications is by taking a course, either virtually or in person, at a higher education institution that offers a degree in the subject you’re interested in teaching in.
Once you’ve achieved your degree at this institution, you’ll be able to apply for positions in postgraduate courses and master’s degrees – and once you’re on or have completed your postgraduate course, you’ll be able to begin teaching for your organisation.
To help your chances of being accepted as a higher education teacher, and more importantly, to give you the skills and academic practices you’ll need to know to be able to teach efficiently, a postgraduate academic practice course can be a big help, such as this one, provided by the University of Liverpool online. These courses are designed to develop your teaching and to help you ensure that your lecturers, tutorials and seminars are enlightening, engaging and interesting for your students.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a higher education course?
Higher education courses are courses that teach students at level 6 of the education [ii] under the RQF – the Regulated Qualification Framework. This level includes things like bachelor’s degrees, graduate diplomas, degree apprenticeships and more.
Higher education organisations also offer level 7 and level 8 degrees within their higher education courses. Level 7 covers things like master’s degrees, PGCE and level 7 NVQ courses. Level 8 is the highest level of education the RQF has to offer, and includes doctorates and PhDs.
Is PGCAP a degree?
The PGCAP, or Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, is a teaching certificate formed as a Level 7 qualification under the RQF. This places it as a Master’s qualification and it gains students who undertake the programme automatic professional recognition.
The PGCAP is an excellent entry point for students looking to pursue a career in academia, providing them with a full skillset of teaching techniques, methods and insights that they can put to work as lecturers, researchers, PhD students, teachers and other fields within higher education. It goes beyond borders too, helping students gain a wider understanding of what it means to be an educator in the international community.
To find out more about what the University of Liverpool’s Postgraduate Certificate Academic Practice can offer you, visit the PGCAP course overview.