Stressing the irrelevant

May 8, 1998

The results of the Association of University Teachers stress survey (THES, May 1) confirm the futility of these exercises and their role in trivialising the problems faced by many staff in higher education and other institutions.

Why is it useful or interesting to know, for example, that most of those surveyed think that there have been too many changes in higher education and that these changes have been a bad thing? How can the fact that almost a quarter of respondents report they have taken time off in the past year because of what they believed was a stress-related illness contribute to any sensible debate about policy?

There is also little evidence that such surveys achieve their aim of persuading employers to improve working conditions. Trade unions which use the stress rhetoric in this way are more likely to be met with the offer of stress counselling or relaxation classes.

Rob Briner Department of organisational psychology, Birkbeck College

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

Track runner slow off the starting blocks

Lack of independent working blamed for difficulties making the leap from undergraduate to doctoral work

Quality under magnifying glass

Hefce's new standards regime will enable universities to focus on what matters to students, says Susan Lapworth

Door peephole painted as bomb ready to explode

It’s time to use technology to detect potential threats and worry less about outdated ideas of privacy, says Ron Iphofen

A keyboard with a 'donate' key

Richard Budd mulls the logic of giving money to your alma mater

Long queue

Lobbying intensifies ahead of Lord Stern's review of crucial assessment into university research performance