Visitor is called in over bullying allegations

April 12, 2002

The University of Nottingham is reviewing its harassment policy after a survey found alarming levels of concern about staff bullying in its School of Nursing.

The Association of University Teachers at Nottingham conducted the survey to find the cause of a growing number of complaints and anecdotal evidence. Out of a sample of 200 nursing academics, one in seven claimed to have been subjected to bullying. One in five said they had witnessed bullying.

The visitor has been summoned to investigate, and the university has set up a review panel to rewrite its harassment policy.

According to the AUT, bullying problems have also surfaced in the university's schools of law and social sciences and in built environment. But return rates on surveys carried out in these areas were too low for any results to be considered significant.

Negotiations have begun between the AUT and the School of Nursing over improving processes to safeguard against harassment and bullying.

Managers have warned that some of the complaints, such as staff claiming to have been sidelined and excluded from conferences, are difficult to handle.

The AUT spokeswoman said: "We are not necessarily saying that the processes themselves are bad. It's a question of whether they are being used."

A university spokesman said a harassment policy working group had been set up before the survey had been carried out. He said: "As far as the School of Nursing is concerned, although there are allegations, we have not yet had substantive proof."

* The AUT at Nottingham has withdrawn from a university-wide job-evaluation scheme. Union leaders said their views were being ignored by managers who, they said, had imported a process from industry without modifying it to academics' jobs.

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