Long academic holidays 'a myth'

February 23, 2007

Many academics take only two weeks' holiday a year, according to a Loughborough University academic who says it is 15 years since he had more than a fortnight's leave.

Russ Bowman, professor of chemistry, says the idea that academics disappear on holidays abroad as soon as students take their break is a myth. This has been proven by a staff survey at Loughborough, which is one of the first pre-92 institutions to introduce a workload agreement.

Professor Bowman, who helped negotiate the agreement, said most academics were prepared to forgo holidays and to work long hours because they were dedicated to their work.

"The longest holiday I have taken since starting here in 1970 is three weeks - and that was 15 years ago," he said. "This is typical. We would not be able to get our work done if we took more."

He said young academics accepted a working culture of long hours and few holidays. "A lot of them have come through as a postdoc researcher and have carried on in the culture of working long hours," he said.

Loughborough's workload agreement aims to ensure that no staff work more than 2,500 hours a year, more than most union leaders would like.

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