Sue's Top Ten causes of Stress in British Universities
- Low pay. This year's rise was the first one above
inflation for donkeys' years, and we had to go on
strike to get that. It's a start but ONLY a start:
there is still a massive deficit compared to other
professions. See the AUT national website for all the
facts and figures.
- Job insecurity, for 2 main reasons:
- Over half
of all University staff are still on fixed-term
contracts (this should now change due to a change in
the law, but that won't show much effect until 2006);
- many universities, including Birmingham, have
set up Redundancy Committees which hang like a sword
over people's heads.
- Assessment exercises, especially (for those of us on contracts which
include research) the dreaded Research Assessment Exercise or RAE. But
having one's teaching or administrative skills constantly monitored can
be equally stressful.
- Bullying and harassment - which in my experience
usually emanates from middle management, around
the Head of School level.
- A constant culture of change for the sake of it.
Staff who have been here for decades never feel that
they know the job better than newer staff, because
the structures of departments and courses change
- Deteriorating staff-student ratios - more and more
students are being crammed into the system without
equivalent funding for staff to match them.
- Lack of consultation. At Birmingham the senior management
decide on major changes which affect everyone else's
working lives. Then they
present it as a fait accompli to Heads of School,
who then eventually filter it down to the lesser
mortals. Any semblance of consultation with staff
is just window dressing.
- General increases in workloads. Need I say more?
- Being expected to multi-task and be experts in
everything - teaching, admin, IT, student counselling,
etc. etc., often without the training or infrastructural
support to make the work possible.
- A culture of "micro management" permeating through HE,
which is deprofessionalising the sector
and undermining acdemic freedom and our once open research culture.
Last updated: 9th November 2004