Don’t just scoff

October 12, 2017

In the news story “Survey results confirm UK university staff’s deep dissatisfaction” (5 October), your correspondent writes: “The final results…have made it clear that malcontents were not disproportionately represented…” The term “malcontent” is unfortunate. I hope it means that the author does not know its meaning (someone generally dissatisfied with everything, for whom nothing will be good enough) rather than that Times Higher Education has drunk the managerialist Kool-Aid.

Commenting on the story, a spokesperson for the Open University said that the institution was “‘disappointed at the limited scope’ [of the survey], which ‘produced findings sharply at odds with views expressed by more than 3,000 employees in our most recent staff survey’”.

The complaint about methodology or sample size is the defence of those who have been found out. It could well be that as this survey was independent of the institution, respondents were more honest, and it is more representative.

It is remarkable that commissioners of such surveys leap to defensive responses rather than seek to find out why people feel this way and how they might change this.


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