Stress levels on the rise, UCU survey indicates

July 10, 2008

Almost three quarters of academic and academic-related higher education staff find their job stressful, according to a survey of 14,250 University and College Union members.

Some 49 per cent of respondents to the poll last year agreed that their job was stressful, and 25 per cent strongly agreed. The union said the figures were higher than those in a similar study in 2004, when 69 per cent said that their job was stressful.

The results were released at the same time as a separate survey of 6,000 university staff by Quality of Working Life, a University of Portsmouth-affiliated research firm.

QoWL found that in general, university employees, including non-academic staff, had much better working relationships, with lower levels of conflict and bullying, than those in the wider working population, based on Health and Safety Executive benchmark data.

Alan Bradshaw, QoWL director, of surveys and benchmarks, said the data indicated that "universities are friendly places to work where staff are not micro-managed and have quite a bit of autonomy and choice".

But he said that when academics were separated from other university-based occupational groups, their reported stress levels were higher.


The lecturers' trade union at the North East Wales Institute of Higher Education is to ballot members on industrial action, claiming that managers have failed to act properly over allegations of bullying.

The University and College Union branch at Newi has passed a vote of no confidence in the institute's human resource managers over the issue. It will now hold a ballot to see if members want to go on strike or take action short of a strike.

A union source said that eight complaints had been made within a few months about the same individual, but the institute had "refused to acknowledge that there is any commonality".

A Newi spokesman said the grievances were being dealt with individually because the complaints raised were diverse.

The spokesman said that Newi had written to the UCU's head office offering to discuss the issues through an independent mediator.

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