NSS for staff needed

February 6, 2014

I applaud the efforts of Times Higher Education to take the first steps in reviewing general feelings among staff across the UK sector on a number of key topics. However, as THE has pointed out, the response levels vary radically between different institutions.

At Regent’s University we carry out a regular anonymous, externally managed staff survey on the full range of issues affecting staff. This year we achieved a 65 per cent participation rate. The survey results, which allow us to gather perspectives from different groups across the institution, are invaluable in helping us to listen and to continue to improve our management processes. We also receive a comparison against a benchmark of UK organisations.

Unfortunately the benchmark is drawn from public and private institutions across the UK in many different fields. It would be so much better to have a real sector benchmark for higher education. Perhaps the Higher Education Funding Council for England could be prevailed on to require universities to carry out an independent, standardised national staff survey, similar to the National Student Survey. Then we could make genuine comparisons and seek to improve conditions. On the other hand, I foresee a high level of resistance from institutions that would not dare to open up sensitive information publicly in this way.

Aldwyn Cooper
Vice-chancellor
Regent’s University London

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