Problematizing the ‘Career Academic’ in UK construction and engineering education: does the system want what the system gets?

Nick Pilcher, Alan Forster, Stuart Tennant, Mike Murray, Nigel Craig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
112 Downloads (Pure)


‘Career Academics’ are principally research-led, and enter academia with limited or no industrial or practical experience. UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) welcome them for their potential to attain research grant funding and publish world-leading journal papers, ultimately enhancing institutional reputation. This polemical paper problematizes the Career Academic around three areas: their institutional appeal; their impact on the student experience, team dynamics and broader academic functions and; current strategic policy to employ them. We also argue recent UK government teaching-focused initiatives will not address the need to employ practical academics, or ‘Pracademics’, albeit in a predominantly vocational discipline such as Construction and Engineering Education. We generate questions for policy makers, institutions, and those implementing strategy. We argue research is key, but partial rebalancing will achieve a diverse academic skill base to achieve contextualised construction and engineering education. In a wider European context, the paper resonates with issues of academic ‘drift’ and provides reflection for others on the UK context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1477-1495
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number6
Early online date4 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2017


  • REF
  • TEF
  • professional industrial experience
  • career academic
  • Recruitment policy
  • Construction and Engineering Education


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