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

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Doctoral study can seem like a 24-7 endeavour, but don't ignore these other opportunities, advise Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman

Laurel and Hardy sawing a plank of wood

Working with other academics can be tricky so follow some key rules, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Matthew Brazier illustration (9 February 2017)

How do you defeat Nazis and liars? Focus on the people in earshot, says eminent Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt

Improvement, performance, rankings, success

Phil Baty sets out why the World University Rankings are here to stay – and why that's a good thing

Warwick vice-chancellor Stuart Croft on why his university reluctantly joined the ‘flawed’ teaching excellence framework