After gaining a degree in English Language, Dr Paul Greatrix never really left higher education. Today he holds a leadership position at a Russell Group university and blogs about issues in the sector.
|Degree Course||MA Hons English Language|
|Year of Graduation||
Your time at the University
I was not a terribly diligent student but had a fantastic time nevertheless. After a rocky first couple of terms I did eventually work out that I probably could survive as a student and that doomed student campaigns, such as the failed NUS affiliation vote, could be both valuable learning and friendship opportunities. The experience studying English Language was an outstanding one with, I think, only eight of us taking the single honours degree. There were some wonderful academics too including John Anderson, Fran Colman and the delightful Herman Palsson whose descriptions of the sagas were always compelling.
I made some great friends through EU Labour Club and spent a year as Chair of it too. Some of the more notable Labour Club alumni from that time have followed impressive political careers but most of us followed a different path. Beyond many a demonstration, the odd occupation, local (and rector) election campaigning, and a work-in in the Library, one of the most memorable results during this time was securing the election of my good friend Robbie Foy for a one-year stint as Secretary of EUSA. Since that outstanding win Robbie has pursued a rather different career as Professor of Public Health at the University of Leeds and his vanquished opponent on that occasion, John Swinney, has I believe taken his political ambitions further.
Despite spending far too much time in Potterrow (with its outstanding and eclectic jukebox) and indulging in excessive politicking in the Students’ Association, I did find enough time to revise for my finals and just about made it through. I remain hugely grateful for what was a wonderful experience and just wish I had spent a bit more time studying Old Norse and Middle English.
I started my current role as Registrar at the University of Nottingham in 2007 where I am responsible to the Vice-Chancellor for the academic administration of the University.
Tell us about your experiences since leaving the University
After graduating I never really left higher education, not as a result of any particular plan but more as a result of no other opportunities emerging. And I quite liked the idea of continuing to hang around universities. Building on previous student political activity I was elected to the position of Chair of Scottish Labour students, a really formative experience (if a financially uncertain one). After a year of touring the country’s colleges and universities in the role, I was fortunate to be successful in my 84th job application and took up post as Administrative Assistant at what was then North Staffordshire Polytechnic in autumn 1988.
I started my current role as Registrar at the University of Nottingham in 2007 where I am responsible to the Vice-Chancellor for the academic administration of the University. As well as being Secretary to the statutory bodies of the University and a member of the University Executive Board, I manage the provision of a broad range of professional services for prospective students, current students and staff.
Prior to joining the University of Nottingham I worked at the University of Warwick where I finished up as Deputy Registrar with earlier positions including Director of Student and Ancillary Services, Acting Registrar, Interim Director of the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth and Senior Assistant Registrar with responsibility for quality issues.
Before joining Warwick in 1998 I was at the University of East Anglia for six years, where I also worked on quality matters and started a part-time PhD which was eventually conferred nearly a decade after starting it.
I still feel a strong affinity for Edinburgh and believe that my experiences as an undergraduate have certainly stood me in good stead in my career. Several good friends work at the University and I have been privileged to visit for different reasons down the years – it’s been fantastic to see the developments in facilities but also the buildings which remain the same. It’s also always great to bump into other alumni from time to time although there are far too many friends I seem to have lost touch with.
Finally, I’ve been blogging on higher education matters as Registrarism since 2007.
My general advice to current students would be to make the most of every opportunity - there’s a lot to choose from, and whatever you are studying, make sure to find some time to read some fiction. And don’t worry, it will all be fine. But the most helpful advice I can offer, based on years of experience working in universities, is to wear sensible shoes to your graduation.
Registrarism (external link)