Many bursars also lead support staff, manage contracts, market their schools and are involved in teaching and learning through record-keeping and evaluation. Around 700 of the 1,200 schools responding to the survey employ bursars or an equivalent.
Bursars are members of the senior management teams in almost a third of the schools where they are employed, while a similar proportion attend management meetings when required.
The researchers from the university, which accredits the National Bursars Association's training scheme and also designed the bursars' development programme for the National College for School Leadership, found that there is still confusion about the role.
"Teachers are suspicious of their position but value their contribution," said Elizabeth Wood and Fergus O'Sullivan, of the university's International Educational Leadership Centre, who led the research.
"Governing bodies still have no real understanding of the role and many senior leadership teams and principals have not (tried) to use the bursar to provide detailed management information about resources, marketing opportunities and, more importantly, about student learning and progression."