No, life is not just one long holiday

July 14, 2006

Contrary to common perception, academics do not enjoy lots of holidays, and they risk ill health as a result, research shows.

The study found that two fifths of academics failed to take two weeks or more of their leave, while one in ten failed to take three weeks or more.

Many academics said they struggled to fit summer holidays between exam boards and the rush to fill student places in clearing. Others reported that they often used holiday periods to research and write books.

While academics are entitled to an average of 31 days' leave, they take an average of only 24, according to a survey by Gail Kinman, senior lecturer in psychology at Luton University, and Fiona Jones, senior lecturer in health and occupational psychology at Leeds University.

They found that those who took a smaller proportion of their annual leave were more likely to report poor psychological health, including symptoms such as poor concentration, sleep problems, poor decision-making, depression and anxiety, and a range of minor physical problems such as headaches, tiredness and stomach complaints.

This group also reported that their jobs were more demanding but that they got a lower level of job satisfaction.

The results are based on questionnaires sent to 844 academics in 2004.

Dr Kinman said that although there was plenty of evidence that people needed recovery time and time with family and friends, academics said that the time available for leave had shrunk.

Sally Hunt, joint general secretary of the University and College Union, said: "This survey must dispel any myth that academics enjoy extended breaks."

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