...The anonymised comments suggest to Gabriel that academics are exercised by three main issues: growing managerialism and associated “market-driven and rankings-driven policies, constant performance monitoring and target setting”; escalating bureaucracy and “standardisation that erodes professional discretion”; and “excessive preoccupation with image and hype: the bullshit factor, where everyone must be a star, world class, cutting-edge and the like”.
...“Unmanageable workloads, poor work-life balance and the associated stresses are unsurprisingly top of the complaints list for lecturers again this year,” comments Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union. “Survey after survey identifies increasing workloads and poor management as real problems for our universities, yet nothing is done to address the issues. Increasing workloads, higher rates of casualisation and diminishing support are not the way to deliver the world-class system that leaders and politicians say they want.”
...“University leadership are on record saying they want a high staff turnover and…[pursue] this perverse aim by setting unreasonable personal targets for all academic staff, enforcing them with a new draconian performance assessment system,” one academic at a Russell Group university writes.
...And a senior lecturer at a Russell Group university complains that “now it is all about metrics. Performance management is really a euphemism for: ‘If we don’t like you, we will get rid of you or bully you until you quit.’
...The failure of managers to listen to staff views is a major source of frustration for the sector’s workforce, our survey suggests. Some 39 per cent of respondents overall, and 54 per cent of academics, say that they can’t make their voices heard within their university. Only 25 per cent of professional and support staff feel the same way, but the comments suggest that the issue has a dispiriting effect on morale wherever it is felt. “Directives and decrees come down from [on high]…without any consultation or any consideration of the practicalities of implementing them,” states one IT technician at a large university in the North West.
“We get crazy diktats – like they want to take all our printers away,” complains a senior lecturer in science at a Russell Group university. “Nobody bothered to ask us, or we would have told them that we need printers for our [scientific] instruments.”
A senior lecturer at a post-92 university in the South of England claims that the views of academics are not heard by senior management: “Those on the ground, working with students, know what is going on and should be listened to, instead of middle managers who are merely yes-men.”