Fifty per cent of lecturers taking part in a study at Spain's Alcal University have been victims of bullying in the past six months.
The first study of workplace bullying at a Spanish university found that 46 per cent had been bullied by their superiors and 40 per cent by colleagues.
The most frequent forms of bullying were being misrepresented at work (35 per cent), being excluded or ignored (33 per cent) and work being undervalued or discredited (32 per cent).
The interviewees cited reasons for bullying as envy of professional success (19.8 per cent), a way of silencing someone who is not prepared to accept unreasonable behaviour (18 per cent) or being seen as threat to others'
careers (14 per cent). Women made up 60 per cent of the victims.
The effects on the health of victims were serious, said I$aki Pinuel, lecturer in organisation and human resources at Alcal and author of the study. They include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and psychosomatic illnesses. "Sixteen per cent of lecturers who have suffered bullying often think of suicide," Dr Pinuel said.
The study was commissioned by Alcal 's teaching and research staff committee, and 12 per cent of the university's 500 permanent lecturers took part.
The university is reviewing its statues and intends to include preventive measures and a grievance procedure for victims of bullying.
Dr Pinuel believes the incidence of bullying at Alcal is representative of the state university sector as a whole, although this will become clearer once studies being conducted at the universities of Murcia, Extremadura and Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona are complete.
Dr Pinuel said that public-sector organisations in Spain were especially prone to cases of bullying as labour law makes it hard for institutions to sack staff.