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Higher education careers in Australian Universities

Reasons to work in Higher Education (What's in it for you?)

So where do you begin?

You can start right here at; Search university jobs

To get information on your local university, feel free to browse the UniJobs Campus Careers centre; a list of practical links containing information on your local university career hub.

Think about a university career


Each university has a unique culture. Their values are clearly represented on their websites. They all aim to create environments of support among staff and peers whilst appreciating their own cultures and values. Universities are a product of knowledge and therefore there is constant innovation. There is a sense of openness and encouragement for new ideas and tolerance towards different viewpoints and cultures. They are constantly testing, observing and developing.

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Universities appreciate that each employee has different circumstances and priorities. Thus universities value and recognise their employee's life outside of work and encourage a work life balance. There are a number of ways in which universities do this including:

Offering flexible work arrangements including:

  • Part-time employment
  • Job share
  • Temporary/Contract employment
  • Maternity and adoption leave
  • Planned career breaks
  • Family Leave
  • Study leave

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All universities provide salaries at award or above award. There are different awards for academic staff, professional staff and general staff. All universities base their salaries on a 48/52 week year. Most universities publish their salaries online.

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Most universities offer the option of salary packaging. This allows employees to structure their income so that they receive their salary as both cash and fringe benefits that are paid out before paying tax. This means employees can maximise their benefits and tailor their salary package to suit their individual financial needs whilst taking advantage of legitimate taxation laws.

Some of the items that can be packaged are:

  • Additional superannuation
  • Financial advice
  • Motor vehicle leasing
  • Laptop computers
  • Car parking
  • Memberships and subscriptions that are work-related i.e.
  • Mobile phones and PDAs
  • University books
  • University sport and recreation fees
  • University child care
  • Self education / higher education course fees
  • Airline lounge memberships

Salary packaging options vary for each university. You can obtain detailed salary package information about your local university by visiting the Unijobs Salary Centre. Click here.

For more information on salary package options, please visit the Smart Salary Website

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All employees are entitled to superannuation and most universities tend to pay well above the award (9%). The employer contribution rate is usually 17% of an employee's gross salary.

All university employees are required to join UniSuper which is a superannuation fund dedicated exclusively to employees who work in the higher education and research sector.

UniSuper runs a national seminar program for all members.

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Universities run training and development programs for all their staff. This includes:

  • Various training programs that include topics such as orientation of working at the university, Leadership and management, performance management, managing stress, keeping work life balance etc.
  • Course fees discount All employees have the opportunity to take courses run by their university at a discounted fee (this can also be salary sacrificed). Often family members are also given discounted fees.
  • Academic staff development programs Academics are given the opportunity to take time out of the campus to research in their field or work on specific projects
  • Professional staff development programs This is to encourage professional staff to study undergraduate degrees and allows them time off to do this.
  • Career Development programs These programs help assist staff to develop their career goals within the university with support from supervisors. They also offer career counseling and resources and support from Human Resources and Managers.

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All universities have a wide range of facilities that are accessible to their staff.

These can include:

  • Banks and ATMS
  • Newsagencies and Australia Post outlets
  • Pharmacies
  • Hairdressers
  • Travel agencies
  • Computer supplies and bookshops
  • Cafes and takeaway outlets
  • Health and Fitness centres
  • Libraries
  • Staff clubs/houses that can cater for functions and events

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Universities usually have a team of medical practitioners, registered nurses, and a psychologist to offer health services to staff and students. These services can include:

  • General Practice
  • Vaccinations
  • Sexual health checks
  • Skin checks
  • Travel medicine
  • Men's Health and Women's Health
  • Mental health support
  • Free flu vaccinations

The services can be organised through the University. They also offer to arrange health insurance with a health fund they have a strong relationship with.

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All Universities have fitness and sports centres for staff and students. They offer very low fees for both staff and their families. They can include group fitness classes, short courses, massage and physiotherapy, sporting facilities that include a gym, swimming pool, tennis courts and even sports stadiums. Each institute also runs a number of sports and sporting teams for staff to be involved in.

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Staff can receive awards for performance and excellence which can include anything from the chance to work on a project to receiving a large lump sum payment.

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Academic promotions are available to research staff. Most universities run an academic promotions program where there is a set procedure for academic staff wanting to advance to a higher research level. This encourages academic staff to continue to learn and research and as they do so advance within the institute.

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Some other benefits include:

  • Carparking. Most universities provide staff car parking for free or for a small fee (which can be salary sacrificed)
  • Child care provided by the university (which can be salary sacrificed)

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Can include the following:

  • Travel insurance
  • Travel
  • Car hire
  • Stationery
  • Health insurance
  • Bank fees

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Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) is about:

  • making sure that workplaces are free from all forms of unlawful discrimination and harassment, and
  • providing programs to assist members of EEO groups to overcome past or present disadvantage.

This means having workplace rules, policies, practices and behaviours that are fair and do not disadvantage people because they belong to particular groups. In such an environment, all workers are valued and respected and have opportunities to develop their full potential and pursue a career path of their choice.

EEO groups are people affected by past or continuing disadvantage or discrimination in employment. As a result they may be more likely to be unemployed or working in lower paid jobs.

These groups are:

  • Women
  • Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders
  • Members of racial, ethnic and ethnoreligious minority groups, and
  • People with a disability.

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What current higher education employees are saying:

"Freedom, autonomy, intellectual stimulation, sense of achievement" Lecturer, University of Melbourne

"I love the flexibility, and engaging with others in diverse ways. I have been able to travel overseas to conferences and to conduct research". Lecturer, University of South Australia

"What I enjoy most are the continual learning and new challenges that my work affords me - learning from students, learning through research, learning through reading, learning from others working in my own field and in other teaching and research fields. I have also had many opportunities to take on new challenges in research and teaching, attend international conferences, and join in international projects. As a career, I would rank working in higher education at 9 out of 10." Professor, Griffith University

"Working in higher education gives you the opportunity to make a difference to learning outcomes for students. We can introduce new practicals to keep inline with the ongoing changes in techniques and technology in the work place. There aren't many places that offer flexible work hours and the opportunity to gain experience in the workforce." Technical Officer, Charles Sturt University

"If you're looking for a job that offers you intellectual freedom, opportunities to develop your interests and make them a career, then maybe joining a university as a staff member is the future for you." Dr Richard Taffe, Course Co-ordinator, Charles Sturt University

"I have worked casually in Higher Education for six years. I have taught in Arts, Education, Learning Development and school linkages programs. I love the work; I love the people I meet and the intellectual stimulation." Kimberley McMahon-Coleman, Tutor, University of Wollongong

"Working in Higher Education keeps you young, lets you meet intelligent people and keeps you relevant to contemporary society as you age physically but not mentally." Non-Executive Director, The University of Melbourne

"This opportunity provided me with valuable teaching skills and has allowed me to develop an experiential teaching style which I love. I presented some of these at an international conference which allowed me to network and learn more from others. I am sort after by other tutors and academics to share my successful strategies, and evaluation of my teaching by students is fantastic. This has allowed such personal growth that I did not expect. I find the support of colleagues, both PhD candidates from all over the world, my supervisors, and other academics to be above anything that anyone even tried to describe." Wendy Abigail, PhD Candidate, Flinders University

"Love working with a young population of enthusiastic students, love working with colleagues who put their heart and soul into the job, love having an employer who values lifelong learning." Associate Dean, Flinders University

"I have worked in higher education since 1999. I love researching. I have gained a PhD and had a good work life balance. There is a very generous superannuation scheme. My previous experiences at UWA and ECU were both 8/10. I am currently working in business but want to return to university research". Previous University Lecturer

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