Higher education in the UK has seen a steady increase in the numbers of part-time teachers, yet the way in which they are inducted into teaching and the utilisation of their expertise are under-researched. This qualitative study of 33 part-time teachers from several universities suggests that their involvement in higher education should be considered from a fresh perspective, which differs from approaches to the enhancement of university teaching that rely upon simply educating individual teachers to do better by requiring their attendance at formally provided courses and events. While these approaches have their place, modern research on professional learning is increasingly pointing to the view that professional formation is an ecological process that is insufficiently served by the formal provision of learning opportunities. The ecological perspective, which emphasises the part played by the everyday workplace in professional formation, provides a challenge to leaders and managers regarding the development and implementation of institutional policy and practice.