August 22, 2023

How to Combat Bullying and Discrimination in the Geosciences

Here are 10 practical steps that scientists can take to counteract the detrimental effects of abusive academic work environments.

1. Recognize an unhealthy work environment. Recognizing discriminatory behavior is the most crucial point, although the hierarchical nature of academia can make this recognition inherently difficult when it is someone you look up to who is misbehaving. First, if there is a problem, do not assume you are at fault! It is the responsibility of the person in power to not be hostile in their actions or words. Academic institutions and departments should have definitions and guidelines for ethical behavior in place as well as policies protecting employees and students from harassment and bullying...

2. Prioritize your well-being. Mental and physical well-being are inseparable and should be your first focus. Make sure you get enough sleep, take breaks, and do things that make you happy. You are valued for more than your capital and abilities as a scientist, and your well-being should never suffer. Do not hesitate to seek professional psychological help and other well-being resources and services, which many academic institutions already offer to their staff and students. There is no shame in getting external perspectives to guide you through your situation.

3. Confront your situation. It takes a lot of courage to approach a person who is harming you, particularly given the risks of their retaliation. However, by doing so, you take charge of the situation and signal to the culprit that their behavior is unacceptable. We recommend having such a discussion in a public place, for example, a cafeteria. If you feel more comfortable having a third party involved, reach out to a trusted person to join the conversation. Aim to establish agreements that detail how the perpetrator will change their behavior and how they will follow through with their role as a mentor in charge of your growth as a scientist...

4. Approach someone you trust. Reach out to a trusted individual for guidance. An ally who can effectively advise you and advocate for you can be an invaluable source of support and can help protect you from retaliation. Universities and research institutions often employ ombudspeople or others trained to mediate conflict situations. Seek guidance from these individuals, or, if your institution does not have staff trained in mediation, look for peer-mentoring support options at your institution and beyond—there are a myriad of early-career scientist networks, student councils, and online community resources of scientific societies, as well as Twitter and Slack groups.

5. Dare to speak up. It is possible or even likely that colleagues of yours face similar issues but have not spoken up. Finding the courage to do so can be hard for countless reasons. However, simply sharing experiences about and strategies on how to handle difficult work situations can already help you feel better. Sharing your experience with others could also create a “Me Too”–type effect, enabling you to act more effectively as a group against perpetrators. Moreover, having open conversations and removing taboos on discussions regarding harassment and bullying are important steps forward in acknowledging systemic problems.

6. Look for supportive collaborators. For most people, a hostile workplace will negatively affect the quality of their work. Try to find other experts in your field who can get involved in your research and act as mentors and allies. By expanding your team of supervisors or collaborators, you can diffuse the effects of power abuses that can occur in one-on-one relationships. Do not hesitate to approach potential collaborators with your scientific ideas at conferences or via email. However, make sure those scientists are not close associates or friends of the perpetrator...

7. Change your physical work environment. Changing the physical environment in which you work can help put not only literal distance but also mental distance between you and an abusive situation. You could, for example, ask for a new workspace in a different office, laboratory, or building; change occasionally to work from other places (e.g., the library or home); or look for opportunities to work as a visiting scientist in another research group...

8. Document all incidents. Make notes and memos of important conversations with your supervisor and send them as meeting summaries. Such records can be key if your supervisor ignores agreements or your situation is elevated to an institutional level where “proof” of your situation is requested. Also, take note of bystanders who might have witnessed the discriminatory behavior you have experienced...

10. Explore external resources. 
In addition to resources provided through your institution, professional societies and other groups provide external sources of support. For example, AGU has an Ethics and Equity Center that provides free legal consultation for those who may be targets of hostile and toxic environments. These resources and organizations can offer guidance on how to resolve conflict situations that potentially involve legal actions.

There is no straightforward or easy way to improve or get out of a discriminatory work environment. The above steps are intended to empower individuals facing abuse and to help overcome or alleviate the consequences of workplace bullying, discrimination, and other behaviors that stem from imbalanced power dynamics in academic settings...


June 29, 2023

Mind your Head: An introduction to Workplace Bullying in Academia

 ...Bullying and mobbing in academia are often particularly obscure – the situations develop in the so-called grey zone. This is related to the high level of intellect of the aggressors, the complex power structures, and the highly flexible and diverse working arrangements. Trying to identify what is or is not reasonable is thus blurred and the forms in which aggressions are executed are diverse. A key aspect, however, is that the question of what is (or is not) bullying does not evolve around whether the aggressor’s (bully) behaviour is (un)intentional, but rather whether it is unwanted on the side of the recipient (target). Some of the bully’s actions might occur as apparent (unintentional) overreactions, oversights, or matters of diverging opinions, when, in fact, the behaviour is systematic.

For instance, scheduling a work meeting during the target’s vacation falls into the category of seemingly innocent oversights, which may, however, be a deliberate action to hinder the target in receiving information vital to workplace performance, communicating their viewpoint, labeling the target as unprofessional (if they eventually fail to participate), or even to interrupt their recreation periods (which reduces the target’s resilience). 
We provide more examples in box 1 (below). Only putting all incidents into a larger context, demonstrating the repetitive nature and the harm to the targeted individual allows to shed light on the true dynamics in a workplace bullying or workplace mobbing situation. The obscure nature, unfortunately, frequently inhibits bystanders to support the target, and may also cause misinterpretations and consequently poor handling of the situation by management (human resources, line managers, directorate, etc.). Thus, a comprehensive understanding of the dynamics behind workplace bullying and workplace mobbing is critical when tackling the issue...

The bully. Workplace aggression is typically a result of the aggressor’s weakness, rather than that of the target. Frequently, bullies feel threatened in one way or another, for example, by the target’s competence, achievements, or high work ethic and integrity. Bullies tend to compensate for a lack of acknowledgment they perceive themselves and attempt to victimize others in order to improve their own personal or professional well-being. Often bullies perfectly understand how to keep the target stressed without being spotted. For instance, rather than one evident attack, bullies might engage in a high frequency and diversity of seemingly subtle actions. These are more difficult to spot from the outside and harm the target through continuously reviving distress from previous experiences. Bullies may be well aware of how to present themselves as caring, cooperative, or even naive when needed, and to display the target as a disruptive individual instead. Sometimes bullies suffer from personality disorders, such as narcissism, and thus (might) enjoy their skilled psychological manipulations.

The target. Targets themselves often feel confused by what they experience. They might have difficulties acknowledging the situation, and first undergo a phase of denial before realizing they are a target of workplace aggression. They may be deliberately isolated by the bully, feel ashamed and guilty, and do not know who to trust. This makes it challenging for them to speak to coworkers, friends, and family, and to seek professional help. The aggressions accumulate over time, and even seemingly small incidents can do tremendous harm, through reviving previous experiences. To outsiders (bystanders), this might sometimes give the impression that the target reacts unproportional, when a particular situation is taken out of its larger context. Unfortunately, some targets become actual victims, and sadly self-harm and even conduct suicide, or become aggressive towards others. Even without such tragedy, they might not be able to re-integrate themselves into the workforce for long, with severe and lasting consequences for physical and mental health, social relationships, and financial stability.

The bystanders.
 Bystanders might be viewed as “spectators” to the situation, in “stand by”. The aggressor, however, feels significantly less powerful, if bystanders do not tolerate the bullying. Thus, “active bystanders” are a crucial component to address in the goal to stop workplace aggression. Yet, some bystanders avoid supporting the target. Some people might in fact be forced to or wilfully take sides with the bully and form a mob, from which the term “mobbing” derives. Others might remain “passive bystanders”. This category of bystanders might be scared to become a target themselves, feel unprepared to help, and thus ignore the situation. Most of the bystanders, however, might simply be unaware of the underlying dynamics, as academic bullies are highly skilled in hiding the nature of their true intentions. Sometimes, the aggressor is perceived as a trustworthy role model, in particular when supported by management or in a position of power themselves. The aggressor’s behaviour towards the target then sets the scene for everyone else, and the target is turned into a common enemy and viewed as the (initial) cause of trouble. Only those trained to recognize abusive situations will be able to see through the smoke and can become active bystanders, who support the target, or even “upstanders”, who advocate for change in their work environment and/or the scientific community. 

The management. Problematic character traits and behaviour of singular people do not create an extended workplace bullying or even workplace mobbing situation – workplace aggression thrives when management is negligent or promotes a toxic culture in the first place. Bullies may hide their actions in the grey zone, which obscures the situation leading to a lack of awareness and misunderstanding by management. At the same time, independent support systems for the target to help them analyse and advocate their case are difficult to access and afford. Aside, truly independent and neutral evaluation bodies are often missing and guidelines are only available on paper, without the implementation of proper protocols and training on how to follow them. This combination of factors might lead from workplace bullying to a workplace mobbing situation, when management refrains from supporting the target appropriately in an attempt to protect their own interests, and (indirectly) takes sides with the more powerful bully. If upright integrity and expertise are missing, management’s involvement may thus cause additional harm to the target instead of protecting the employee's health and safety (although the latter is in fact employers’ legal responsibility in many countries of the world)...

June 26, 2023

University of Groningen faces growing calls to reinstate sacked gender-equality researcher...


A tenured professor who was sacked after speaking out against what she saw as her university’s failure to implement its own equality policy is planning to appeal against her dismissal.

In March, a court ruled that the University of Groningen in the Netherlands could sack Susanne Täuber, a social-psychology and employment policy researcher after it found that there was a “permanently disturbed employment relationship” between the two parties.

The ruling on 8 March, International Women’s Day, sparked a demonstration at the university and an outcry among academics around the world, with more than 3,600 signing an open letter calling for Täuber to be reinstated, saying that she was being “punished for exerting her academic freedom”.

“Firing a scholar who published work that is critical of powerful institutions, including the university itself, sets a disturbing precedent for us all,” they wrote.

On 23 March, University of Groningen students staged a sit-in protesting against Täuber’s firing, and highlighting the lack of “social safety” at the university.

Täuber told Nature that she would appeal against her dismissal, which is due to take effect on 1 May.

“I have until June to say that I am not OK with my sacking,” she says. “But then I will have to figure out who will pay for the appeal as I will be unemployed.”

Täuber, who is German, has worked at Groningen since 2009. In 2013, she was awarded a five-year Rosalind Franklin fellowship, a university scheme aimed at female academics, mostly those who are non-Dutch.

In 2018, she made an official complaint that she had been passed over for promotion, arguing that she had as many published papers and research grants as colleagues who had been promoted above her...

She says that hers is not an isolated case: a survey she undertook at the university found that of 26 employees who had made official complaints of harassment, 16 had reported being further bullied.

Natalie Scholz, a historian at the University of Amsterdam, said the reason Täuber’s dismissal has sparked such anger is that it has made many academics fear similar treatment if they criticize their own institutions. The case has even sparked its own social media hashtag: #AmINext.

Susanne had a tenured position. If a university fires somebody who is well known in that specific field, then it looks like no one is safe … Nobody can expect to be able to speak out,” she said.

“This case shows you cannot rely on university management to help you. We need a body that is completely independent of universities, where you can go to report complaints,” she added.

...Täuber is a member of the Academic Parity Movement, a global campaign to end bullying and discrimination in academia. Morteza Mahmoudi, a precision-health specialist at Michigan State University in East Lansing and the co-founder and director of the movement, says:

“Bullying slows down the evolution of science. Many smart people leave academia and public money gets wasted. And the sad thing is that the outcomes of cases like Susanne’s send a very clear signal to other perpetrators that they will be protected, and a negative signal to targets that they should use the code of silence.”

June 07, 2023

Update to The Envy of Excellence, two decades later, 2020

...The closest I have come to listing causes of mobbing was in a 2006 article in Academic Matters, where I identified ten factors that increase the likelihood of a professor being mobbed. Three were characteristics of the workplace:

1. A discipline with ambiguous standards and objectives, especially those (like music or literature) most affected by postmodern scholarship;
2. A supervisor – president, dean, department chair – in whom, as Nietzsche put it, “the impulse to punish is powerful”; and
3. An actual or contrived financial crunch in the academic unit (according to an African proverb, when the watering hole gets smaller, the animals get meaner).

The remaining seven factors on my list of vulnerabilities were characteristics of the target: 

4. Foreign birth and upbringing, especially as signaled by a foreign accent;
5. Being different from most colleagues in an elemental way (by sex, for instance, sexual orientation, skin color, ethnicity, class origin, or credentials);
6. Having opposed the candidate who ends up winning appointment as one’s dean or chair (thereby looking stupid, wicked, or crazy in the latter’s eyes);
7. Being a ratebuster, achieving so much success in teaching or research that colleagues’ envy is aroused; 8. Publicly dissenting from politically correct ideas (meaning those held sacred by campus elites);
9. Defending a pariah in campus politics or the larger cultural arena;
10. Blowing the whistle on, or even having knowledge of, serious wrongdoing by locally powerful workmates.

“The upshot of available research,” I concluded, “is that no professor needs to worry much about being mobbed, even in a generally vulnerable condition, so long as he or she does not rock the local academic boat. The secret is to show deference to colleagues and administrators, to be the kind of scholar they want to keep around as a way of making themselves look good.

Jung said that ‘a man’s hatred is always concentrated on that which makes him conscious of his bad qualities.’”

February 09, 2023

Confronting Nontraditional Bullies in Academe

...Sadly, academe is well populated by individuals who behave similarly to my former colleague, seeking opportunity wherever they find it and taking what was never offered. I refer to this manipulative meddler as an “opportunist bully,” characterized by individuals who prey on the generosity, ingenuity and collegiality of other academics.

They may appear to be congenial colleagues who are interested in you and your work. They may seek you out for information, disappearing when they have found the key to their own grant proposal or article. They may even wish to partner with you on a collaborative project or a grant, sometimes even offering necessary expertise. It is only when the collaborative project begins to reap tangible rewards, in the form of funding, accolades or publications, that the opportunist bully’s agenda becomes clear. In maneuvering to steal the idea, claim the spotlight or dominate the funds, their bullying tendencies are revealed—particularly as they work to justify centering themselves at the expense of their collaborators.

In my experience, the opportunist bully can be difficult to spot. Many people who exhibit this type of behavior seem to be collegial and engaged, not necessarily pursuing conversations with colleagues in order to hijack their research projects. In fact, in some regards the opportunist bully may actually be collegial and engaged. But when scarce academic rewards are at stake, these otherwise seemingly congenial individuals become inappropriately territorial and manipulative.

While the opportunist bully may appear to be a less dangerous category of academic bully than other more easily recognizable bullies, the damage they do is significant. When a colleague hoards resources, steals an original idea or otherwise preys upon another colleague’s work—most often that of a junior faculty member—the person whose work has been pilfered is likely to question their own role in allowing their work to be compromised. That can result in a sense of shame, guilt, fear and mistrust—all emotions connected with more traditional bullying behavior.

Ultimately, once the rank of full professor is achieved, certain individuals can become so emboldened by their positions that it is relatively easy to maintain power over those whom they outrank—and sometimes even administrators who try to rein in their unbridled egos. And the segregation and uneven support that various disciplines receive can lead to a more insidious hierarchy that is internalized by the individuals within areas or programs that perceive themselves as ranking “lower” within that hierarchy.

In such an environment, a form of bullying can arise that is described as “victim bullying” by C. K. Gunsalus in The College Administrator’s Survival Guide. As the name suggests, in this instance, the person attempts to turn their own bullying behavior upside down, positioning themselves as the victim. Victim bullying occurs when an individual uses a position of relative power to convince others that they are treated unfairly, work harder or are the target of disrespect. Yet while these individuals insist that their work is unappreciated, they often enjoy the most resources, the least external control over their workloads and the highest academic ranks.

A kinder term for this bully might be “the squeaky wheel.” While we may consider the squeaky wheel to be someone who’s simply persistent in expressing a need, the resolute steward who continues to speak up for the benefit of all differs markedly from the academic who uses manipulation for their own self-interest. Victim bullies may insist that their concern is for students or the greater good, but when this type of bully’s demands are pinpointed, it becomes clear that theirs is largely a narcissistic project.

Perhaps the most disturbing instances of academic bullying involve small groups of empowered faculty members who band together in an attempt to control, punish or even push out any individual whom they see as a threat to their agenda. In their book, Faculty Incivility: The Rise of the Academic Bully Culture and What to Do About It, Darla J. Twale and Barbara M. De Luca describe a relentless and insidious form of bullying known as “mobbing.” Similar to schoolyard bullying, this form of abuse typically involves a small group of people who align in the interest of achieving or maintaining power, often in order to protect the status quo—and sometimes even when their independent agendas don’t align.

For example, I am aware of an academic administrator who was taken to task by a small group of faculty members after that person’s first year in a leadership position. When the administrator failed to comply with the “mob’s” self-interested agenda, through deceit and manipulation they managed to push the administrator out...


January 08, 2023

Addressing instrumental bullying — stopping the Schemer...

 ...To prevent instrumental, indirect, and covert bullying, organizations should ensure transparent, fair, equitable, and legitimate ways to obtain rewards. Promotions, resource allocation, and other crucial decisions should be made based on transparent and accurately measured performance outcomes. “Eyeballing” performance rewards bragging, credit-taking, and possessing external markers of privilege.

Moreover, ensuring justice in organizational decision making requires a mechanism for correcting high-stakes decisions when necessary (such as if the information they were based on was incomplete or false, as in Noor’s case). For example, an independent group (e.g., a committee of ombudspeople) could verify the evidence supporting demotions or progressive discipline. Specific mechanisms
 differ based on the type of organization (state, private, unionized, etc.) and employment, often taking the form of grievance committees serving a specific type of employees (e.g., classified or unclassified, salaried or hourly). In any case, grievance and check-and-balance mechanisms may help disincentivize the reliance on instrumental bullying to get ahead.

Asynchronous work tools like taskboards and shared documents may also help prevent instrumental bullying in the form of credit-taking or unfair evaluations. Beyond their purpose as productivity tools, they serve an additional function of documenting performance and contributions.

Valid and well-designed recruitment,
 selection, and talent-management mechanisms that focus on demonstrated skills, results, and the ability to support others (rather than the ability to talk oneself up) also play a significant role in establishing a positive organizational climate. These can help prevent the hiring and promotion of takers and overconfident but incompetent individuals by identifying early signals of someone’s potential bullying behavior. For example, asking candidates to describe their experiences of failure or of enabling others to succeed will reveal degrees of humility, self-awareness, and orientation toward others...

December 13, 2022

Susanne Täuber - Bullying as a career tool in academia

Amongst recent high-profile bullying and (sexual) harassment scandals in academia, many have involved perpetrators who are ‘star academics’, yet had records  of bullying and multiple complaints over many years1. People often believe that these scientists are bullies despite being star academics. Their misbehaviours are attributed to an unfortunate decoupling between being a good scientist and being a decent person. However, academics who have experienced bullying often describe patterns that suggest a different explanation entirely: bullying is a means for mediocre scientists to rise to the top. Some star academics reached their position because they are bullies, not in spite of it.

(PDF) How bullying becomes a career tool. Available from: [accessed Dec 13 2022].

November 25, 2022

Poor management the top cause of workplace bullying, study reveals


If the boss doesn’t care, why should the employees? Poor management is a surefire path toward fiscal failure, but new research also finds a bad manager can lead to a nastier work environment for everyone.

Researchers at the University of South Australia cite poor management as the biggest risk factor for workplace bullying. In collaboration with scientists from the Centre for Workplace Excellence, the University of Queensland, and Auburn University, study authors developed a new evidence-based screening tool that identified the nine major risk areas associated with workplace bullying.

These risk areas are very much embedded in typical day-to-day business practices, leading study authors to conclude the burden falls on organizations and employers to address the issues.

The research team analyzed 342 legitimate, real-life bullying complaints filed in South Australia. Notably, 60 percent of those complaints came from female employees. Meanwhile, the largest portion of complaints originated within health and community services, the property and business sector, or the retail sector. That analysis revealed the most prominent risk areas associated with workplace bullying across organizations, researchers explain.

Workplace bullying predominantly shows up in how people are managed,” lead study author Professor Michelle Tuckey says in a university release. “Managing work performance, coordinating working hours and entitlements, and shaping workplace relationships are key areas that organizations need to focus on.”

“It can be tempting to see bullying as a behavioral problem between individuals, but the evidence suggests that bullying actually reflects structural risks in the organizations themselves.”


October 09, 2022

Report on the National Survey of Staff Experiences of Bullying in Irish Higher Education Institutions

This report presents the findings of an anonymous online survey examining the prevalence and impact of workplace bullying among staff in 20 publicly funded Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Ireland. This survey study was commissioned by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. The survey included five sections: 

* demographics and work arrangements

* negative acts at work, bullying and cyberbullying

* bystander behaviour

* anti-bullying culture and awareness of anti-bullying policies

* team psychological safety and work demands

A total of 3,835 HEI staff (11.5% of employees working in the HEIs that were invited to participate in this study) aged between 18 and 65+ (65.1% female, 31.7% male, 0.5% non-binary, 2.7% did not disclose their gender identity) engaged with the online survey. Data were collected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirty-point-five-percent (30.5%) of staff engaging with the survey was working remotely at the time of the data collection.

Findings showed that:

* 28% of the sample occasionally (“now and then”) endured work-orientated negative acts (targeting someone’s professional standing)

* 26% were subjected to person-orientated negative acts (targeting someone’s personal standing)

* an average of 32.9% respondents in the whole sample endured cyberbullying at work

* after being prompted to read the bullying definition, about one third of respondents (33.5%) reported having been bullied at work in the past three years, with 70.6% of them having been bullied for several months

* in the majority of cases, the perpetrator of bullying was a senior colleague (55%) or a peer (24.6%) * minority groups, such as LGBTQ+ respondents, ethnic minorities and respondents with a disability were more likely to endure negative acts at work, bullying and cyberbullying compared to majority groups (i.e., heterosexuals, ethnic majority groups and respondents with no disabilities)

* managers were more likely to endure negative acts and cyberbullying at work compared to respondents who did not cover a managerial role

* the rates of negative acts at work were comparable across respondents working in different work areas. *however, academics in the field of Social Sciences and Business and Law and those who did not disclose their work area endured higher levels of negative acts and cyberbullying compared to respondents working in other areas

* those who did not disclose their demographic information (gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, work area) were more likely to endure negative acts at work, bullying and cyberbullying compared to those who disclosed their demographic information. These findings suggest that employees who endure bullying at work might be afraid of reporting their negative experiences even when data are collected anonymously

Overall, enduring negative acts at work and cyberbullying had a negative impact on respondents’ mental health and wellbeing, with a slightly higher rate of female respondents and respondents belonging to minority groups reporting negative mood end emotions.

Incidents of negative acts at work were witnessed occasionally (“now and then”) by 34.5% of respondents. Over one third of respondents (35.3%) indicated that they had witnessed bullying at work in the past three years, with 50.5% reporting that they had taken action when witnessing bullying. Witnessing bullying was detrimental for the mental health of respondents, with 36.6% of bystanders reporting that witnessing bullying had a negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing.

On a positive note, the majority of survey respondents (64.5%) were aware that their institution had an anti-bullying policy. However, only 20.8% of respondents agreed that the anti-bullying policy and procedures at their HEI contributed to effectively protecting all staff members.

August 05, 2022

Academics make claims of bullying and racism at another UCL school

Academics at one of the UK’s most prestigious universities claim bullying and harassment has destroyed careers and left staff living in a “culture of fear”.

In a leaked letter seen by the Guardian, nine academics from University College London’s (UCL) Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction said they needed to break their “silence”, alleging that complaints of bullying are “simply ignored”.

It comes after UCL apologised for a “culture of bullying” dating back decades at the Bartlett School of Architecture, which is in the same faculty as the school of sustainable construction.

An investigation by intelligence company Howlett Brown into the architecture school found a “boys’ club” setting. It found some people had been left “deeply traumatised” by their experiences in what was described as a “toxic” and “unsafe” learning environment.

The report has prompted a backlash, with 30 architects and academics accusing the university of a “witch-hunt”. They criticised the decision to publish the findings of an investigation into alleged abuses at the school before the conclusion of a disciplinary process.

The letter from the Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction nowargues there is nepotism when it comes to high-profile appointments within the academy, as well as harassment and bullying of older and senior staff to “precipitate resignation or early retirement in order to replace them with cheaper junior staff on fixed-term contracts”.

The letter reads: “We are writing to you because you collectively have the fiduciary duty to govern UCL in the interest of its students and staff. This fiduciary duty includes ensuring that all reports of misconduct and fraudulent behaviour within UCL are diligently investigated through a transparent process.”

It alleges: “We have seen our own academic careers and lives and those of our colleagues destroyed through bullying, harassment and other predatory practices and know that any effort to raise the issues of misconduct or fraudulent behaviour would lead to retaliation endangering our own careers and lives.”

The academics call for complaints to be dealt with appropriately and to end the use of confidentiality clauses so people can speak without reprisal. They accused UCL of not looking sufficiently at the staff experience in their investigation of the architecture school.

Academics from the construction school, speaking about their experiences, say they have witnessed worrying levels of “bullying and deep racism”.

They claim this includes firing faculty members with no due process or warning and “extending probation discriminatorily”.

A UCL spokesperson thanked the individuals for coming forward, promising to launch an investigation, adding they were “sorry to hear about their experiences” and “troubled” by their stories.

“While the Howlett Brown investigation looked into the culture, educational practices and environment at the Bartlett School of Architecture, we know that unacceptable behaviour happens elsewhere in UCL and is not isolated to just one department or school,” they said.

“We are committed to tackling inequalities and to ensuring that our university is an environment in which students and staff can thrive in their diversity.”

They added that others with concern should raise it via university support services. “We guarantee that anyone who speaks to us will be treated with sympathy and confidentiality.”