I like working both in and out of the academy, and I think those who have worked outside of the sector make much better workers WITHIN it too…

“Breaking out of the academy may seem daunting, but scholars’ skills transfer to many other jobs. Matthew Reisz talks to four who made it to the other side. But then there is the final move out of the world of work – plan well, recommend Caroline Lodge and Eileen Carnell

Life seems unlikely to get any easier in higher education over the next few years: contracting job markets, stagnant salaries and increased workloads are all more than distinct possibilities. Some academics may be forced out of higher education altogether; others may become increasingly disillusioned with a changing sector.

The question, of course, is how one responds to this. One can grin and bear it, and probably become ever more bitter, or one can actively plot one’s escape. Here we tell the stories of a number of academics who have left the academy and built new lives for themselves. All have essentially happy endings and reveal how many academics possess transferable skills they can fall back on, should the need arise.

Much of it comes down to a question of self-definition. As long as one pigeonholes oneself as “an expert on eels’ parasites” or something equally limiting, it may be hard to think how to excite a potential employer or recreate oneself as something quite different. Yet a slight shift of the kaleidoscope can often open a range of fresh possibilities.

But while this feature celebrates the positive achievements of academics who have remade themselves, it also raises questions about the frustrations that seem to be pushing some of the talent out. Where this involves people who are talented writers, as in a couple of case studies below, there seems to be something particularly dysfunctional about it, with the universities losing their champions of “impact”, the very people who could take their work out to a broader public and enthuse potential students and paymasters.”

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