Analytic Quality Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-21, Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 18 June, 2021 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2021.


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core definition

Staff refers to those people who work in educational institutions.

explanatory context

Staff is a plural noun.

For the purposes of this glossary, the discussion excludes staff who work in schools (i.e. compulsory education).


In some contexts, such as the United Kingdom, staff' refers either to the academic staff, sometimes referred to as teachinging staff, teachers or academics (equivalent to what in the United States would be faculty) or administrative staff (also called support staff), based in facultties, departments or central administrative units.


In some countries, such as the United States, staff implies administrative staff (or support staff, otherwise called general staff).


In some cases the term academic staff is used in United States institutions to refer to workers in a department who are not faculty (what in the United Kingdom might be called 'support staff'). (See the definition from University of Wisconsin, Madison, below)


Confusingly, administration is also a term used in some countries to refer to the senior management of institutions, whereas in others it refers to the operational staff, who carry out administrative or support tasks.


Staff might also be used to refer to theose people who work in external quality assuance agencies, for example:

Staff: Employees of an evaluation or accreditation agency coordinating, assisting, and carrying out the administration of evaluation or accreditation procedures. Staff may consist of programme officers with coordinating and assistance functions and of office assistants or administrators with secretarial functions. (Campbell & Rozsnyai, 2002, p. 133)

analytical review

The OECD (2003) Glossary of Statistical Terms defines academic staff as follows:

Academic Staff (International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 5-6) includes personnel whose primary assignment is instruction, research, or public service. This includes staff personnel who hold an academic rank with titles such as professor, associate professor, assistant professor, instructor, lecturer, or the equivalent of any of these academic ranks. The category includes personnel with other titles, (e.g. dean, director, associate dean, assistant dean, chair or head of department), if their principal activity is instruction or research. It does not include student teachers or teacher aides.

The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) (2009) defines staff as follows:

Staff (excluding atypical) are those members of staff where one or more of the contracts held during the reporting period cannot be defined as atypical, and includes open-ended/permanent and fixed-term contracts

Atypical staff are those members of staff whose contracts are those with working arrangements that are not permanent, involve complex employment relationships and/or involve work away from the supervision of the normal work provider.

Academic staff are defined as academic professionals who are responsible for planning, directing and undertaking academic teaching and research within HE institutions. They also include vice-chancellors, medical practitioners, dentists, veterinarians and other health care professionals who undertake lecturing or research activities.

Non-academic staff are defined as those that do not have an academic employment function such as managers, non-academic professionals, student welfare workers, secretaries, caretakers and cleaners.

The University of Cardiff (2004) states:

‘Academic Staff’ means the academic staff of the University of Wales, Cardiff and shall include any person who is an employee of the University of Wales, Cardiff and who holds the title of Professor, Reader, Senior Lecturer or Lecturer; and such research staff and such other categories of employee or other individual employees as the Council may from time to time determine.

In clarifying the new Post-Secondary Learning Act in Alberta, the University of Alberta (2012) noted that:


5.1.1 As Defined by the Post-Secondary Learning Act “academic staff member”, “academic staff” and “member of the academic staff” mean an employee of the board of a public college, technical institute or university who, as a member of a category of employees or individually, is designated as an academic staff member under this Act; [Post-Secondary Learning Act Section (1c)].


Confusingly, in some Unites States institutions, academic staff refers to support staff (which is quite distinct from academic staff in the United Kingdom). For example, University of Wisconsin, Madison (2009), School of Human Ecology:

Definition: Academic staff consists of all persons (other than university faculty) holding appointments in the School of Human Ecology who are professional and administrative personnel AND who have duties and types of appointments primarily associated with higher education institutions or their administration. These positions are either unique to higher education and/or provide direct support for academic programming and/or develop and implement policies at UW-Madison. (See FP&P 1.03. and ASP&P.) Academic staff are generally designated as instructional, research, or administrative staff.

associated issues

related areas

See also



Campbell, C. & Rozsnyai, C., 2002, Quality Assurance and the Development of Course Programmes. Papers on Higher Education, Regional University Network on Governance and Management of Higher Education in South East Europe, Bucharest, UNESCO.

Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), 2009, Staff Definitions 2008/09, available at, accessed 20 September 2012, page not available 11 January 2017.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 2003, 'Academic staff' entry in Glossary of Statistical Terms available at, last updated 28 February 2003, accessed 20 September 2012, still available 11 January 2017.

University of Alberta, 2012, GFC Policy Manual, 5. Academic Staff, Academic Staff Agreements, and Support Staff, available at, accessed 20 September 2012, page not available 11 January 2017.

University of Cardiff, 2004, Ordinance 12: Academic Staff, available at, accessed 20 September 2012 , page not available 11 January 2017.

University of Wisconsin, Madison, 2009, School of Human Ecology, SoHE New Staff Welcome Book: Overview, available at, accessed 17 July 2012, not available 20 September 2012.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

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