Raising concerns

October 6, 2016

Students and postdocs, as well as administrative staff, will always be considered expendable when they conflict with a senior academic (“Life with an abusive lab boss: one postdoc’s story”, Opinion, 15 September). Someone who brings in large amounts of research income is irreplaceable; they will never be dismissed for poor behaviour.

Several cases I know suggest that “dignity at work” policies are there so universities can claim that is how they work rather than actually to be followed. An employee inspired by the lofty sentiments in these policies to raise concerns about a senior is likely to find their concerns deemed “accusations”, to be called “vexatious”, and accused themselves of unreasonable behaviour.

Employee Assistance Programmes seem to be there so that universities can tell concern raisers: “You are the problem – go and get counselling about it.” If they resist and say, “No, the problem is my senior’s behaviour”, they will be accused of insubordination for not following the advice, and the further stress they experience because of their real concerns will be written off as “your fault because you did not get the help we suggested”.

Matthew Huntbach
London


Send to

Letters should be sent to: THE.Letters@tesglobal.com
Letters for publication in Times Higher Education should arrive by 9am Monday.
View terms and conditions.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

Humboldt University, Berlin

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy

sitting by statue

Institutions told they have a ‘culture of excluding postgraduates’ in wake of damning study