March 13, 2020

Third of Cambridge University staff 'have experienced bullying'

Nearly a third of staff at the University of Cambridge say they have experienced bullying and harassment in the workplace, according to an internal survey obtained by the Guardian that revealed what one union called “a culture of bullying” in parts of the institution.

 Responses from 3,000 academic and non-academic staff – a quarter of Cambridge’s total workforce – found that nearly one in three had either been the victims of bullying and other forms of victimisation or had seen it directed against colleagues in the previous 18 months.

The survey found that the largest group to have suffered bullying and harassment were women and assistant staff – Cambridge’s term for non-academic support staff – while the largest group to exhibit bullying and harassment were academics. The results are revealed as the Office for Students, the higher education regulator for England prepares to set out new requirements for how universities handle harassment and sexual misconduct affecting students and staff, including intervention by the regulator in cases of ineffective procedures.

...The initial survey was carried out in July 2018 but was only released on the university’s internal network in 2019. A summary of the results includes comments by Stephen Toope, Cambridge’s vice-chancellor, who wrote: “To be a leading institution, we must accept that this type of behaviour has no place at Cambridge. The experiences of bullying and harassment shared by some of the staff participating in this joint survey show us, however, that we have work to do to make this a reality for all.”

Ivan Williams, Unison’s Cambridge branch chair, said: “The levels of staff who say they have witnessed or suffered bullying is deeply worrying. I would also be concerned that, due to a lack of training, many staff is not even aware that some of the treatment they have to deal with at work would be classed as bullying...