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Taking action in higher education

College and university staff welcome Ban Bullying at Work Day

7 November 2007 | last updated: 14 December 2015

Today, on Ban Bullying at Work Day, UCU has called for greater efforts from colleges and universities to tackle workplace bullying.

Ban Bullying at Work Day has been called by the UK anti-bullying charity the Andrea Adams Trust, and is supported by TUC.

UCU's own UK-wide survey published earlier this year showed that in colleges and universities over one third of staff found bullying to be at "very stressful" levels.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) bullying is one of the key causes of stress and responsible for the loss of many thousands of days of work because of stress-induced illness.

Some universities and colleges recognise they have a problem and are putting in place robust measures to prevent and deal with bullying. Unfortunately in other institutions where UCU finds evidence of bullying it is often the case that senior management is either in denial or unwilling to discuss the matter.

At Leeds Metropolitan University, despite a survey by UCU which revealed that 63% of responding academic staff reported witnessing bullying at work and 24% felt they had been humiliated by bullying incidents, the university continues to deny there is a problem. But when BBC regional TV news programme Look North recently reported on bullying at Leeds Met and the university denied it, the BBC said it had been inundated with calls from university staff who endorsed the programme's findings.

However a growing number of university vice-chancellors and college Principals have shown they do not believe bullying is acceptable. The authoritative Equality Challenge Unit's recent guide for institutions on Dignity at Work lists a dozen or more institutions where practical steps to prevent bullying have been implemented with support from the very top of the institution. In those institutions bullying is treated as a health and safety hazard to be identified, evaluated, recorded, and prevented. UCU has welcomed this good practice.

UCU is developing its anti bullying work and some UCU branches are today using Ban Bullying at Work Day to raise awareness of the dangers of bullying.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt, said: 'I congratulate the Andrea Adams Trust for bringing attention to the issue of workplace bullying. Bullying is never acceptable and can wreck people's lives. In colleges and universities many lecturers continue to be bullied. They cannot perform well when they are stressed out, so students suffer too.

'Some universities and colleges are beginning to resolve this and we welcome the good practice which is emerging, but more needs to be done.  First of all, managers have got to stop denying the problem exists and begin discussing it.  If some institutions can do so there is no reason why the entire sector can't.'

Read more about how UCU is supporting Ban Bullying at Work Day

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