Thursday, December 6, 2018

Student Affairs work in the UK

A U.S. student raised several questions about pursuing a career in student affairs in the U.K. Each question is answered in a series of audio clips - Emelie Helsen's advice is interesting and thoughtful.

Emelie indicated (in clip responding to question #1) that one of the distinguishing factors in regard to residential experience is that residential life is better at institutions that are less prestigious, which is the case in many U.S. institutions as well. The idea is that those that are less prestigious are motivated to attract and hold students where those with greatest prestige don't need to compete in the same way.

The importance of student-driven participation is addressed in the response to question #2, an issue that many U.S. institutions could benefit from considering. The key point is that the U.K. tends to not centralize "student affairs" in administrative units, as is typical in the U.S. The lack of centralization may relate to the fact that student affairs is a newer and more novel idea in the U.K. but perhaps those in higher education in the U.K. may have determined that bureaucracy is not helpful to the support and enhancement of students' learning experience.

The bottom line of Emelie Helsen's reflections are that 1) there are opportunities for U.S. expatriates to work in student affairs roles but that 2) the campus experiences is quite different between the two countries, 3) the work-life balance is much more comfortable in the U.K., and 4) the focus on professional degrees and the tendency to focus on "fluff" or feel-good experiences is much lower.

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