Helping unis hunt heads

Universities face big challenges in recruiting top-level staff and they turn to recruiters to help.

Susan Loomes (Uni Notre Dame Australia, Sydney) with colleagues Alison Owens (CQU) and Grace McCarthy (Uni Wollongong) warn Australian universities face; growing competition for academic staff, an ageing workforce, declining attractiveness of university workplaces and a lack of succession planning.

“As a result, Australian universities are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit senior academic leaders without the use of executive search firms,” they write in a new article, based on qualitative research with university leaders.

They also argue universities turn to recruiters because appointment advertising does not deliver, “only around 10 per cent of candidates come through advertising.”

The paper, published this month in the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management is based on interviews with senior staff at 39 Australian universities and three executive searchers, plus a study of recruiting at ten unis.

However, the authors warn that relying on executive search, “may skew the type of candidates being presented to universities as part of the recruitment process … this may equate to selecting candidates from universities that perform well in ranking tables and have external accreditation.”

To counter this, they propose workforce and succession planning and professional development, perhaps including, “their large pools of sessional academic staff.”

“The universities that make a serious investment and commitment to workforce planning by building future talent from within will not only retain university knowledge, loyalty and established culture but foster a true commitment from current staff and be seen as an employer of choice from those outside the university,” they conclude.


to get daily updates on what's happening in the world of Australian Higher Education