Dr Celia Whitchurch

Celia Whitchurch

Celia is Associate Professor of higher education at University College London Institute of Education. Her research interests focus on academic and professional identities in higher education and changing workforce patterns. Completed projects include an international study for the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE) on Professional Managers in UK Higher Education: Preparing for Complex Futures (2008); an LFHE-funded study on Staffing  Models and Institutional Flexibility (2013); and a study for the UK Higher Education Academy on Shifting Landscapes: Meeting the staff development needs of the changing academic workforce (2016). She is currently Principal Investigator on a Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE) project entitled "The implications of a diversifying workforce for higher education systems, institutions and individuals". She has published an edited monograph (with George Gordon) on Academic and Professional Identities in Higher Education: The Challenges of a Diversifying Workforce (2010), a single-authored monograph, Reconstructing Identities in Higher Education: The Rise of Third Space Professionals (2013), and a further monograph with George Gordon on Reconstructing Relationships in Higher Education: Challenging Agendas (2017).


Celia will be contributing to workshop session A delicate balance: Optimising individual aspirations and institutional missions in higher education on Tuesday 9 July with Professor William Locke, Director, Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education, University of Melbourne.


The session will report on an ESRC/HEFCE funded research project entitled The implications of a diversifying workforce for higher education systems, institutions and individuals. This will include the outcomes of interviews that took place with 69 respondents in eight case study universities across the UK, and a survey questionnaire to academic staff in a subset of the case study institutions. It will demonstrate not only changing patterns of employment, but also ways in which individuals and institutions are managing academic careers in contemporary environments.
More specifically, the session will describe the emergence of three types of approaches to roles and careers on the part of individuals: 
  • Mainstream approaches, in which individuals lay emphasis on formal structures and timelines, focusing on activities deemed to be most valuable. 
  • Portfolio approaches, in which individuals cumulatively gather academic and associated experience, internal and external, with the aim of optimising future opportunities in higher education and adjacent fields.
  • Niche approaches, in which individuals prioritise personal values, interests and strengths in carrying out their roles, often with an emphasis on service to students and the community.
The session will also show how individuals and institutions navigate tensions around, for instance, market imperatives and ideals of service, policy requirements and creative endeavour, and the competing demands of teaching, research and related activities. We conclude that informal opportunities, relationships and networks would appear to be an increasingly significant element in developing roles and careers.
This page was last updated on 7 May 2019