We hear a lot about the issues of career progression for researchers and increasingly the career opportunities for teaching-focused staff (See Guiding Principles for teaching promotion). Yet there is a third group in this academic arena which, to date, hasn’t had a lot of attention although being invaluable to the student population. The “Dual Professional” or the “Practitioner-teacher”, an individual who enters higher education with industry and professional skills and experience. Where do they fit in the academic career process?
The GuildHE report “Practice-Informed Learning: The Rise of the Dual Professional”, launched in November 2018, highlights the value of these professionals on the student experience. Students benefit from the professional relationships these academics have with industry through networks and development opportunities.
This is a two-way process, as the employer networks also have access to practice-ready students, having experienced practice-informed learning and facilitated opportunities to work with universities on collaborative projects. This has to be a win-win situation for students and higher education institutions.
So the benefits to students, employers and higher education is clear but what about the practitioners themselves? Many are skilled practitioners commanding high salaries in their sector. How do we ensure there are appropriate career opportunities and development within our institutions? These dual professionals come from many different disciplines, beyond the immediate areas of health and education but law, engineering, business and the creative industries. Many of these dual academics start as part-time staff or hourly paid associate lecturers. How do institutions facilitate professional learning and development within the context of higher education? Do they get the opportunities to develop as a teacher through PGCerts in learning and teaching or PGCAPs? How do we ensure that they feel part of our academic community?