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The higher education workforce

A total of 340,000 staff were employed by English higher education institutions in 2015-16. There were 168,000 academic staff, an increase of 2.2 per cent from the previous year, and 169,000 professional and support staff, up 1.6 per cent. There were also 2,500 staff employed as senior management.

Just over a third of academic staff (36 per cent) were on fixed-term contracts, with the remainder being on open-ended or permanent contracts. The proportion of staff on fixed-term contracts has fallen slightly since 2012-13, down 1.2 percentage points. The fall has been driven largely by a reduction in the number of staff on fixed-term teaching and research contracts.

Almost half of academic staff were employed on teaching and research contracts (49 per cent), but younger staff were more likely to be on teaching-only or research-only contracts. Staff aged under 40 years old accounted for 40 per cent of the academic workforce, but for only 25 per cent of teaching and research contracts. Those aged under 30 and over 60 were disproportionately more likely to hold teaching-only contracts.

The proportion of academic staff on full-time contracts was 66 per cent, while 68 per cent of professional and support staff were full-time. Part-time contracts were most likely to be held by older staff, with 60 per cent of academic staff aged over 60 working part-time.

A further 61,000 academic staff were employed on atypical contracts. Atypical staff are those whose working arrangements are not permanent, involve complex employment relationships and/or involve work away from the supervision of the normal work provider. Data is not collected for professional and support staff on atypical contracts. 

The data discussed here can be explored in more detail using our data tool. Please note that we have changed the methodology we use to calculate higher education workforce statistics this year. 

Page last updated 26 June 2017