March 05, 2007

Increasing workloads stressing out lecturers - UK

Disturbing levels of sleeplessness, anxiety and exhaustion are affecting lecturers in colleges and universities, according to a new union study. Provisional research findings released the week by college and lecturers' union (UCU) reveal high levels of stress as workloads increase. But the study of over 1,000 college staff found only 16 per cent thought their institution was addressing the causes of stress.

Roger Kline,
head of equality and employment relations at UCU, said: 'This new research reveals disturbing levels of anxiety and ill-health symptoms amongst the workforce in further and higher education.' He said it was 'clear that one cause is the diminishing control which academics have over their job. Another is the job insecurity amongst lecturers and researchers with part-time and short-term contracts... We need more enlightened management practices which will increase academics' autonomy and reduce excessive administration.' [Nice words Roger - how will our union show innovation and leadership on this challenge?]

The study findings were released this week at a conference organised with the College and University Support Network (CUSN). CUSN chief executive Patrick Nash said: 'Thirty one per cent of calls from lecturers to our helpline in the last six months have been from people who were feeling anxious, stressed or depressed. Lecturers told us the main factors contributing to their high stress levels were money worries, harassment, problems with managers, difficulties with colleagues, workload, issues to do with performance and pay, and legal issues.'

A full analysis of the research, conducted for UCU and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), will be published in the new year.

From: - November 2006

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