Interesting times... after 19 years at my current university, from Research Associate to Computer Officer to Lecturer, I have finally decided to leave academia to work as a contractor/consultant in IT and NLP.
I was thinking of writing a post about my reasons for this rather radical step, but I think it would quickly turn into a rant, and I don't want to dwell too much on negative things. To summarise, I am no longer happy with the way higher education is developing in this country. It's less and less focused on what I believe to be the point of academia, namely broadening people's horizons, and preparing them to be adaptable to anything life will throw in their way. But with the rise in costs students increasingly just care about assessments, and I can't really blame them. A further aspect is the importance of targets, especially in recruiting PG students, where bums on seats are all that counts. And the continuous fragmentation of the job, where there are so many little tasks to deal with at the same time that it is difficult to concentrate on one thing only at a time.
There have also been many positive aspects to it: curious students, friendly colleagues, interesting topics to work with. But I no longer feel that working in academia makes best use of my skills. It was a tough decision to make, but I don't want to say to myself in 20 years time "why did you not do something when there still was time?" And, given that I originally came on a one-year contract I think I managed to stay on for quite a long time.
Anyway, from June 1st this year I will be looking at HE from the outside only.