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The type of work staff undertake in English higher education institutions falls into two main categories:

  • academic roles, such as professors and research assistants
  • professional and support roles, such as managers and directors.

Just over half of staff are in the second category.

Over the ten years, professional and support staff numbers increased by 8 per cent to reach almost 150,000 in 2012-13.

In the same period, numbers of academic staff employed at higher education institutions have increased by more than twice that amount: by 20 per cent to reach 125,900 in 2012-13. 

A third category – atypical academic staff – are mostly those on very short or flexible contracts (see Note 1). They showed a decrease of 16 per cent in numbers (13,385) in the seven-year period 2004-05 to 2012-13. 

Breakdowns by job type

For the first time in 2012-13 detailed information on job types is available:

  • higher education institutions in England employ 700 institutional strategic leaders and 1,715 senior managers
  • among academic staff, approximately 3,415 members of staff are in an academic leadership role, 13,855 are employed as professors, and 11,725 are research assistants
  • among professional and support staff, approximately 8,070 are managers and directors, 28,365 are employed in professional occupations and 33,585 are non-academic professionals.

See the full interactive data


  1. See a full definition of ‘Atypical staff
  2. The data are initially collected by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) as part of their annual Staff Record and then analysed by HEFCE.