Management and unions have been in discussions this week at London Guildhall University following a staff survey showing widespread low morale and a vote of no confidence in one faculty dean.
The university branches of the lecturers's union, Natfhe,carried out the survey last May, following distribution of questionnaires to 230 academics. Colin Inns, coordinating secretary of the union, said the situation had not subsequently improved.
The report pointed to:
* low morale and job satisfaction. Fifty-nine per cent of all staff rated their morale fairly or very low. Faculty figures were 70 per cent in art, design and manufacture (ADM), 61 per cent in business and 52 per cent in human sciences. Eighty per cent said their own morale had deteriorated, with 58 per cent pointing to a marked deterioration. A substantial majority said their job satisfaction had decreased.
* excessive stress. On an eight-point scale, from none to excessive, the majority said both that levels of stress were severe or excessive and that the level of increase over the past 12 months fell into the same category. Sixty-eight per cent said stress was affecting the quality of their work.
* poor administrative structures. Majorities rated the soundness and the management of the teaching and course development system poor.
* poor senior management. The provost's managerial effectiveness was rated fairly or very low by 92 per cent, with deans scoring 87 per cent (business), 83 per cent (ADM) and 63 per cent (human sciences) in these categories. Heads of department had negative ratings of only 39 per cent.
* unresponsiveness. Eighty-six per cent felt senior management showed little interest or total disregard for staff opinion and only 5 per cent felt the committee structure reported it. Ninety per cent felt adequate communication was a problem and the same number that low participation in decision making was a serious problem.
Seventy-three per cent said their work was not valued in the institution.
Dr Inns said he looked forward to a "meaningful dialogue" with the management. Nigel Brown, vice provost, said the management had not had the chance to digest the findings fully.
"We have a responsibility to consider their views carefully and to try to understand the basis of them," he said.
Criticisms of the dean of business, Bryony Conway, were underlined last week by a vote of no confidence in a ballot conducted by Electoral Reform Ballot Services.
Dr Conway said: "Like all parts of the university, this faculty has been through a period of rapid expansion, placing heavy strain on people and resources. This has made people very brittle and I am trying to address this as best I can, talking to as many people as possible to gain an understanding of their worries and problems."
She said the claim in the survey of a "climate of fear" in the faculty was "an extremely strange expression", adding that the requirement for staff appraisal imposed by the Government as part of contracts had gone down very badly.