Professionalism is something you see, hear and experience and is comprised of a set of behaviours. A professional always aims to give the best they can.
As university administrators, we seek to maintain high professional standards. We could do an “acceptable” job – but we always try to do an “exceptional” job.
But have we ever stopped to consider what makes us professional? We asked this question to our colleagues in the Professional Administration Centre in the School of Engineering and Digital Arts and came up with several ideas as follows: Our approach to service – we put our customers and users first (students & academic colleagues). We are qualified (graduates or with graduate level professional qualifications). We have numerous competences and skills and are good at what we do. We strive for greater performance and for continued professional development and we belong to the professional organisation for University administrators (AUA), who provide us with a toolkit and resources to help improve our professional behaviours and deal with the ever changing complexities of Higher Education.
Students use our services, as administration staff, as their first port of call. The blurring of lines between professional services staff and teaching staff has meant that in recent years, we have taken on more of the traditional duties of the “academic” and there is a constant need for us to provide a greater level of service outside of traditional teaching and research functions.
Twenty first century university administration staff sees administrators adding enormous value to, and impact on, the whole student experience, to the extent that front-line teaching, research, enterprise and all external and commercial activities are greatly enhanced by the kind of day to day roles that we provide. We respond to customers’ needs, pursue complex tasks, deliver innovative solutions, drive the student experience, facilitate learning and development, effect outcomes and respond to change. As professional university administrators, we provide high quality professional services, we have developed an appreciation of academic culture, are sensitive to the needs of a variety of diverse clients, accept responsibility for our actions and share expertise and good practice. As such, the crucial role we play is integral to the strategic success of the University of Kent
In the light of the University of Kent’s 50th anniversary, it seems like a timely opportunity to showcase how the administrative function has changed in the last 50 years. We should be celebrating the professional value we bring to the organisation and indeed, our own professional identity.