Another really interesting post has recently gone up on the Manchester PGR careers blog. It seems that, according to official HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) data, the number of permanent academic jobs in the UK has increased by around 27% in the five years up to 2008/9.
Can that really be right? Anyone who has recently finished a PhD and who has been applying for academic jobs might be surprised to hear that there are apparently a lot more open-ended academic jobs out there than there used to be. And it certainly contradicts a lot of the anecdotal evidence that we hear from recent PhD graduates and post-docs (especially in the Humanities?) who tend to report that competition for posts is fiercer than ever.
I guess the competition might partly be explained by the increase in the number of people doing PhDs – perhaps that number has gone up much faster than the apparent increase in jobs. It could also be partly explained by the creation of different kinds of academic jobs (for instance, some staff and educational developers are on academic contracts, but this type of role often requires a shift in discipline and does not appeal to everyone with a PhD). And, as Elizabeth points out, it isn’t entirely clear how different Universities return the data so the results may obscure as much as they reveal…
Anyway, for a fuller look at the data, check out the post on the PGR blog at: http://manchesterpgcareers.wordpress.com/