Accounting and finance in UK universities: Academic labour, shortages and strategies

Sarah Jane Smith*, Vivien Urquhart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


This paper contributes to the literature on change in the higher education sector arising from massification, increased political control, international mobility and competition. Drawing on various data sources and labour shortage models, it considers academic labour in UK accounting and finance academia over the period 2000 to 2012. A disequilibrium between supply and demand is evidenced through the identification of recruitment problems, unfilled vacancies, and retirements. The impact of research assessment on faculty backgrounds is shown to result in inadequate supply of faculty with the required skills. Strategic responses to labour shortages include: increased recruitment efforts, early promotions, enhanced remuneration and reducing restrictions on occupational entry. The consequences and future implications of shortages and strategies are considered. In particular, the decoupling of research and teaching in accounting is challenging the future existence of accounting as an academic discipline. The current generation of accounting academics is also under threat – if they neither excel at research nor are professionally-qualified they risk becoming undesirable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)588-601
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Accounting Review
Issue number6
Early online date3 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Thanks to The Scottish Accountancy Trust for Education and Research for funding research drawn upon in this paper. Particular thanks go to the UK academics and current PhD students who participated in interviews. We would also express our gratitude to the anonymous reviewers and journal editor who provided very useful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.


  • Academic labour
  • Accounting and finance
  • Labour shortages
  • Restructuring
  • UK


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